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Snitker to balance rest, home-field pursuit

September 23, 2018

ATLANTA -- Sean Newcomb will make another start during the upcoming series against the Mets, and Braves manager Brian Snitker will weigh rest against possibly gaining home-field advantage when making other pitching-related decisions this week.Having clinched the National League East on Saturday, Snitker rested many of his backups for Sunday

ATLANTA -- Sean Newcomb will make another start during the upcoming series against the Mets, and Braves manager Brian Snitker will weigh rest against possibly gaining home-field advantage when making other pitching-related decisions this week.
Having clinched the National League East on Saturday, Snitker rested many of his backups for Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Phillies. He will spend the next few days determining how to get some of his relievers rest and how to get his projected starters prepared for the NL Division Series.
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Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis were the only regulars in Sunday's starting lineup. But Snitker planned to pull both of them after just a couple of at-bats.
"We're aware of the home field, but today, I want to sit a lot of guys today because I've rode them guys really hard the last six months," Snitker said. "So this is a good opportunity to give the guys two days really. But we'll tee it up on Tuesday."
After enjoying an off-day on Monday, the Braves will be on the road for a three-game series against the Mets. They'll finish the regular season with next weekend's three-game set in Philadelphia. Within this six-game span, Snitker will judiciously use some of his relievers, including closer A.J. Minter, who has struggled since beginning to feel lower back discomfort in early August.
The Braves entered Sunday one game ahead of the Dodgers, who would be Atlanta's NLDS opponent if the season ended today. Snitker understands his team has struggled at home over the past month, but he still thinks drawing home-field advantage should be viewed as a potential benefit.
Unless the NL Central winner does not finish the season with the league's best record, the Braves will face the winner of the NL West battle being waged between the Dodgers and Rockies.
Because of the head-to-head season-series records, Los Angeles and Colorado both would win the tiebreaker for home-field advantage if either wins the NL West with an identical record as the Braves.
"We're going to do the best we can to get [home-field advantage] within the scope of giving a guy or two a day off next week," Snitker said.
As the Braves look forward, their four-man postseason starting rotation will almost certainly include Mike Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman and Anibal Sanchez. Julio Teheran improved his bid for the fourth spot with Friday's start against the Phillies. But Newcomb will get a chance to do the same during this week's start against the Mets.
Snitker said the NLDS opponent will likely most influence who fills the fourth spot in the rotation. So if Newcomb were to extend his struggles and the Braves want to use a left-handed starter, there is at least a chance the spot could go to Max Fried, who could also draw a start at some point during this final week of the regular season.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.