The Braves might not have expected to distance themselves from three consecutive 90-loss seasons by earning a postseason berth this year. But now that they have, they are looking forward to the chance to add to the splendor of what has been a magical season."I'm proud of all we accomplished,"
The Braves might not have expected to distance themselves from three consecutive 90-loss seasons by earning a postseason berth this year. But now that they have, they are looking forward to the chance to add to the splendor of what has been a magical season.
"I'm proud of all we accomplished," manager Brian Snitker said. "We were sitting here thinking if we would have finished .500 this year, we would have been like, 'Wow. We took a huge step forward.'"
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:: NLDS schedule and results ::
Having won the National League East by following three consecutive 90-loss seasons with a 90-win season, the Braves will now face the Dodgers in the NL Division Series beginning Thursday night at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers defeated the Rockies, 5-2, in Monday's NL West tiebreaker to win the division and draw Atanta in the first round.
As the NLDS nears, here are some questions surrounding the Braves:
Q: What are the dates for the NLDS, and where can I watch the games?
A: Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS will be played on Thursday and Friday at Dodger Stadium. Game 3 will be played in Atlanta on Sunday. If necessary, Game 4 would also be played at SunTrust Park next Monday. If Game 5 is needed, it would be played on Oct. 10 in Los Angeles. All of the NLDS games will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and MLB Network. The broadcasts will also be available to MLB.TV subscribers who are authenticated subscribers to either of these cable outlets through a participating pay TV provider.
Q: What is Dansby Swanson's status?
A: The Braves have tried to remain optimistic about Swanson, who tore a ligament in his left hand on Tuesday. But the shortstop increased doubt about his NLDS availability when he felt some discomfort while taking dry swings on Saturday. Charlie Culberson would fill the shortstop position if Swanson is deemed unavailable. Culberson's presence in the lineup weakens the bench.
Q: How have the Braves fared against the Dodgers this season?
A: The Braves went 2-5 against the Dodgers during the regular season. The Dodgers hit nine home runs while taking two of three from the Braves at Dodger Stadium in early June. They were positioned to complete a four-game sweep at SunTrust Park before Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb came within a strike of no-hitting them during the July 29 series finale.
Q: How will the Braves handle the three off-days prior to the NLDS?
A: Snitker wants his players to rest and spend time with family members on Monday. The team will work out in Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon and then fly to Los Angeles. A workout day will be staged Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.
Q: Who will be in the Braves' rotation?
A: The Braves have said their first-round opponent could influence who will fill the final spot within a four-man rotation that will include Mike Foltynewicz, Anibal Sanchez and Kevin Gausman. But when Newcomb made a relief appearance during Sunday's regular-season finale against the Phillies, the team provided reason to believe Julio Teheran will be the fourth starter.
Foltynewicz will almost certainly be the Game 1 starter. The Braves have the option to start either Gausman or Sanchez in Game 2.
Q: Will there be any surprise additions to the bullpen?
A: Concerns about the bullpen were at least slightly reduced over the past couple weeks, as closer Arodys Vizcaino made a healthy return and Chad Sobotka burst on the scene with closer-type stuff. A.J. Minter, Jonny Venters and Sam Freeman also seem to be likely candidates for what will be an eight-man bullpen.
Don't be surprised if the Braves opt to carry a pair of starting-pitching prospects -- right-hander Touki Toussaint and left-hander Max Fried. While Toussaint might be primarily a long relief option, Fried spent the past week providing reason to believe his curveball could make him a weapon as a middle reliever or matchup option.
Shane Carle, Brad Brach, Dan Winkler and Jesse Biddle were key relievers at different points during this season. But they may now be battling for the last available bullpen spot.
Q: Who will be on Atlanta's bench?
A: If the Braves go with an eight-man bullpen, the makeup of their five-man bench will depend on whether Culberson needs to start in place of Swanson. Regardless, the bench will include at least one catcher (Tyler Flowers or Kurt Suzuki), Lucas Duda and Ryan Flaherty, who will be carried to serve as a backup middle infielder. There's also a chance speedy outfielder Lane Adams earns a spot.
With Culberson in the lineup, the only right-handed bat Snitker could comfortably use off the bench would be Adams, who was brought up in September to primarily be a pinch-runner. So, there's a chance the Braves carry Rene Rivera as a third catcher. Rivera's presence would allow the Braves to more comfortably use either Flowers or Suzuki as a right-handed bat off the bench.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.