3 questions surrounding Braves' NLDS roster

October 9th, 2022

ATLANTA -- After resting on Thursday and Friday, the Braves returned to Truist Park on Saturday to prepare for their National League Division Series. The players worked out while coaches and executives discussed plans for the best-of-five matchup against the Phillies.

With 101 regular season wins, the Braves claimed a fifth consecutive National League East title and secured the No. 2 seed in the NL playoffs. This means they will host Game 1 (Tuesday), Game 2 (Wednesday) and Game 5 (Oct. 16 if necessary) during the NLDS.

Teams will no longer have an off-day between Games 4 and 5. So expect to see the Braves protect themselves by carrying possibly one more pitcher than they would have with the former format, which included an extra off-day.

The Braves will have until Tuesday morning to decide exactly who will be on their 26-man NLDS roster.

“We don’t know going in,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said prior to the Phillies sweeping the Cardinals in the Wild Card Series, securing a matchup with Atlanta. “We’ll look at the matchups. We don’t know who we are playing. The more guys we get playing well, they may fit.”

Is Ozuna a fit?
Snitker’s comment above was in response to a question about Marcell Ozuna’s recent success. It didn’t look like Ozuna could fit on the postseason roster as August came to a close. But then the veteran outfielder hit .321 with three homers and a .953 OPS in September/October.

So it now looks like Ozuna will have a spot on the 26-man roster. The Braves actually provided a clue last weekend, when Ozuna served as the designated hitter in place of William Contreras for the final two games of the big series against the Mets.


Contreras had a 1.036 OPS against left-handed pitchers and a .784 OPS against right-handers. Looking strictly since the start of September, the backup catcher hit .239 with a .672 OPS in 55 plate appearances against right-handers.

Meanwhile, Ozuna hit .355 with a 1.218 OPS in 34 plate appearances against righties within this same span.

So, don’t be surprised if Ozuna gets some more starts as the DH against righties. It shouldn’t be a shock. He was given the assignment in the two biggest games of the regular season last weekend.

Is Strider healthy?
The Braves became optimistic when Spencer Strider didn’t feel any left oblique discomfort when he played catch on flat ground twice this past week. But his potential availability for the NLDS won’t be known until he throws off a mound this weekend.

If Strider is healthy, he may have time to start Game 3 of the NLDS, which will be played on Oct. 14 in Philadelphia. The rookie hasn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 18.

If he were to start, he would likely be asked to complete just 2-3 innings. This option is less attractive, given there won’t be an offday between Games 4 and 5. But it would certainly be a big lift to get Strider some work in the NLDS.

Max Fried and Kyle Wright would likely start the first two games of the NLDS, and Charlie Morton would be available to start Game 3 or Game 4, depending on Strider’s availability. The uncertainty about Strider increases the likelihood Jake Odorizzi will be on the NLDS roster.

What are some other final roster decisions?
With the expectation Orlando Arcia continues to serve as the starting second baseman, Vaughn Grissom is currently the only lock to be on the roster as a backup infielder. The question might be whether to carry Ehire Adrianza, who can play every infield position, or backup outfielder Guillermo Heredia, who would only be used as a pinch-runner or late-inning defensive replacement.

Kirby Yates’ elbow has been cooperative, but he may not have enough time to be available for the NLDS. If Odorizzi is placed on the roster with a healthy Strider, there’s likely not a need to also carry Bryce Elder. As for Tyler Matzek, he has struggled to find his form this year. But his experience might still make him a better option than Kyle Muller, who has limited experience as a reliever.