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12 pitchers, no Swanson on Braves' roster

October 4, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- Chad Sobotka, Touki Toussaint, Max Fried, Julio Teheran and Sean Newcomb will have a chance to help the Braves advance in the postseason. But Dansby Swanson will have to wait at least until the next round to participate.The Braves ruled out Swanson when their National League Division

LOS ANGELES -- Chad Sobotka, Touki Toussaint, Max Fried, Julio Teheran and Sean Newcomb will have a chance to help the Braves advance in the postseason. But Dansby Swanson will have to wait at least until the next round to participate.
The Braves ruled out Swanson when their National League Division Series roster was revealed on Thursday. Sobotka, Toussaint and Fried will fill bullpen spots previously occupied by relievers who faded near the end of the regular season.
:: NLDS schedule and results ::
It was interesting to see both Teheran and Newcomb included on what is a 12-man pitching staff. Both would be candidates to be used as a fourth starter, but Newcomb's presence provides another matchup option against Cody Bellinger and some of the Dodgers' other top left-handed hitters.
"It kind of boiled down also to just having the healthiest, freshest guys that we could get," manager Brian Snitker said. "We don't know where we're going after tomorrow right now. So we just kind of looked at that with the stuff and matchups and the whole ball of wax, really."
Swanson was left off the roster because he tore a ligament in his left hand last week and is aiming to be ready if the Braves advance to the NL Championship Series. Here's the group the Braves are carrying into the series:
Pitchers
Mike Foltynewicz got the start in Game 1, and Anibal Sanchez will start Game 2. Kevin Gausman is the likely Game 3 starter, but the Braves will wait to decide the direction they will take when the best-of-five series shifts to Atlanta. Some within the organization have lobbied for a start to be given to Newcomb, who came within a strike of no-hitting the Dodgers on July 29. If Newcomb is not used extensively as a reliever in the first two games, he could start Game 3 instead of Gausman. But he produced a 6.34 ERA over his last eight starts, so he may be used as a matchup option and Teheran could be used as a fourth starter if necessary.
Still, because Snitker did not rule out the possibility of Teheran starting, they could essentially piggyback Newcomb and Teheran during one of the first four games.
The suspect bullpen got a significant boost during the season's final weeks courtesy of the healthy return of closer Arodys Vizcaino and Sobotka, who has established himself as a legitimate high-leverage option just 14 appearances into his big league career. A.J. Minter hasn't been the same since he began dealing with back discomfort in August, but he and Jonny Venters will also draw high-leverage assignments.
In addition to being capable of making multi-inning relief appearances, Toussaint and Fried impressed enough during the season's final week to possibly draw some middle-relief appearances. Both have the ability to attack with a plus curveball.
Like many of the Braves' relievers, Brach struggled throughout much of September, but the Braves opted to gamble on him while leaving Shane Carle, Jesse Biddle, Dan Winkler and Sam Freeman off the roster. Each of the four stood as one of the bullpen's top options at various points throughout the season
"They're a big reason why we're here," Snitker said. "I told them, I said, 'It's my fault. I'm the one that worked you guys to death in order to try and win this thing.'"
Catchers
With Swanson's unavailability creating the need for Charlie Culberson to be the starting shortstop, the Braves decided to carry a third catcher, Rene Rivera. Culberson would have been the top right-handed pinch-hit option. Now the options consist of Lane Adams, who was brought up in September to be a pinch-runner, and either of the two primary catchers -- Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers. Rivera's presence allows for Flowers or Suzuki to be comfortably used as a pinch-hitter.
Infielders
Swanson's absence also created the need to carry Ryan Flaherty, now the only backup middle-infield option. If necessary, the Braves could move third baseman Johan Camargo to one of those spots.
Outfielders
Adams has the capability to serve as a backup at any of the three outfield spots. Ender Inciarte improved significantly during the second half against left-handed pitchers. If there is a need to remove him from a game, Ronald Acuna Jr. can shift to center field.
Here is the complete roster:
PITCHERS (12)
Brad Brach
Mike Foltynewicz
Max Fried
Kevin Gausman
A.J. Minter
Sean Newcomb
Anibal Sanchez
Chad Sobotka
Julio Teheran
Touki Toussaint
Jonny Venters
Arodys Vizcaino
CATCHERS (3)
Tyler Flowers
Rene Rivera
Kurt Suzuki
INFIELDERS (6)
Ozzie Albies
Johan Camargo
Charlie Culberson
Lucas Duda
Ryan Flaherty
Freddie Freeman
OUTFIELDERS (4)
Ronald Acuna Jr.
Lane Adams
Ender Inciarte
Nick Markakis

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.