Well, here we go! The wait is nearly over. Many, including Spencer Strider, have been waiting a year to make amends for an early exit at the hands of Philadelphia in last year’s NLDS.
Striderday will get underway at 6:07 ET/5:07 CT on TBS. Our guy, Jeff Francouer, will be in the booth with some other guy for those of us who can’t be there. All eyes, however, will be on Strider. The Philthies roughed up Strider in his first post-season start, with the infamous Rhys Hoskins bat-slamming episode as Philly get to Strider and eventually advanced.
Braves look to continue dominance
The Braves bounced back throughout the 2023 season and were the best team in baseball this season. Unfortunately, a short, five-game series doesn’t always favor the best team. Instead, the team that gets the best pitching and whose offense gets rolling early is often rewarded. Atlanta is the best first-inning offense – maybe ever – and looks to get rolling early. The Braves won eight of 13 meetings with Philly this year.
Strider is 8-0 lifetime in the regular season against the Philthies, including 4-0 this season. In two September starts against Philly, the young righty through 14 innings, struck out 20 and walked just two. His long real blemish was a three-hun homer by Bryce Harper that came after a long, four-run inning by the Atlanta offense. Strider won 20 games this season and the Braves are 26-6 in games he started.
Shake it up
Manager Brian Snitker is infamous for running the same lineup out there each and every night. That reality makes Atlanta’s lineup for Game One interesting. Ronald Acuña Jr. is in his usual lead-off spot, but Austin Riley is in the two-hole tonight. Matt Olson is up to third with Ozzie Albies batting cleanup.
Surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly, shaking up the order is head-scratching. Upon closer inspection, Riley is 6-for-15 with two doubles, a home run, and three walks against Ranger Suarez. Getting Acuña on and scoring him right away is key. Getting runs on the board and getting Riley going early is a pro move by Snitker.
Also, if Riley gets going, look out! The rest of the lineup is filled with the usual suspects, with Kevin Pillar in left-field batting ninth. Suarez is 2-2 versus the Braves with a 3.00 ERA. He is one of the few lefties in baseball to enjoy any success against ATL in the last several years. In his final start of 2023, Suarez allowed nine hits and six runs to the Pirates in 4.2 innings. Let’s hope THAT Ranger shows up today.
Subsequently, Game Two is set for Monday at 6:07 ET/5:07 CT. Zack Wheeler and Max Fried square off in a marquee matchup of two of the game’s best. Game Three will take place in Philly on Wednesday. Aaron Nola is scheduled for the Philthies. Atlanta’s Game Three starter is depending on how Games One and Two go.
Here we go, friends. Cheer loud and cheer proud. Having a lively chat here throughout Game One can help us manager our anxiety. No gloom and doom voices are necessary tonight.
Kyle Wright being left off the NLDS roster was perplexing, but the mid-morning news that Wright is being placed on the 60-Day IL explains things. And if going on the IL wasn’t bad enough, an hour ago we learned Wright is undergoing shoulder surgery and will likely miss 2024.