The Braves were the favorites to win this series. Despite what some will tell you, you will find many more people predicting the Braves over the Cardinals. It’s a disappointment, without a doubt. And it really seemed like we were on a trajectory; last year’s team broke the playoff drought but shouldn’t expect much further, this team would beat the playoff series drought, and next year’s team would be prime to make a length run through the playoffs, maybe even win it all. That didn’t happen. What went wrong?
Couple of reasons this went awry. The first one is obvious: we didn’t get the starting pitching performance we needed. For me, the most disappointing was Dallas Keuchel, but maybe it shouldn’t have been much of a shock. In 9 postseason starts before this start, he never pitched over 6 IP. Somewhere along the lines, maybe perpetuated by the great salesman Scott Boras himself, Keuchel had established this reputation as an anchor of a staff. And in some ways, that’s true in the regular season. He’s pitched as many as 232.2 innings, he’s pitched over 200 innings three times, he’s won a Cy Young Award, but in the postseason, he’s been nothing special.
Obviously Braves fans may also never forget Mike Foltynewicz‘s doozy of a Game 5, even if it succeeded a brilliant Game 2. Which leads to the big reason, I think, the starting pitching performance wasn’t there: 4 of the 5 starts went to Dallas Keuchel and Mike Folynewicz. Only one went to Mike Soroka, and none went to Max Fried. Keuchel is really only nominally better than Julio Teheran for his career, and if it’s cemented into the consensus that Julio has no business starting a playoff game, why does Keuchel start two? These last two years, why has Max Fried found himself in the pen when the season is beginning, ending, and on the line? At one point is he going to be taken seriously as a talent lefty with a 3.83 ERA and 9.5 K/9 in 225 career innings pitched?
Middle of the Order
The triple slashes for the players receiving the most ABs:
The first slash line is for Nick Markakis, who somehow never found himself on the bench during the entire season. I can’t say that there was a better option on the bench, but let’s just assume that Ender Inciarte and Johan Camargo. Don’t you, then, find it troubling that you’re not entirely convinced Markakis wouldn’t have started over them? That’s troubling. My position player goat is Nick Markakis, but I don’t blame the player; I blame the front office that signed him to be the primary right fielder, the manager who refused to get someone in there in place of him, and the injury environment that led to his irreplaceability.
This is less of a gripe, but I’m going to make it anyway. Why didn’t Max Fried pitch more than 4 innings? Why not go multi-inning with Sean Newcomb? For crying out loud, why did Josh Tomlin get as many outs as Newcomb and almost as many as Fried? You might have won game 4 if we hadn’t burned through out pitchers so quickly, and if you didn’t want Julio in the game in that moment, then why was he on the roster anyway, since that was the only time you were ever really going to use him (extra innings in the playoffs)?
What Did I Miss?
This wasn’t meant to be exhaustive. A lot of things had to go wrong to lose this series. What did I miss?