The Morning Aftermath:  Pumped, Still Pumped

I had truly forgotten how exciting postseason baseball can be until last night. I also forgot how exhausting it can be. Last night was emotionally draining. I'm actually glad there's an off-day today.

In thinking about the last two games I was wondering what the most valuable part of the Braves has been, and without a doubt the difference for Atlanta has been in the bullpen. Here is the breakdown:


IP
H
R
ER
BB
SO
Giants Starters
15.2
9
1
0
3
20
Braves Starters
9.1
9
5
5
2
11
Giants Bullpen
4.1
4
4
3
0
5
Braves Bullpen
9.2
6
0
0
1
11

Lincecum and Cain have been terrific, but the Giants' pen hasn't gotten the job done -- and that's rather surprising since their pen is the second best pen in baseball. Of course, the Braves bullpen was the third-best bullpen in baseball this year.

The Braves bullpen's execution and the Giants bullpen's lack of execution is the difference in this series being tied at one game apiece and the Giants being up by two games.

This Braves bullpen is about to be tested in a way it hasn't been all season, as they will go the rest of this series without their anchor, closer Billy Wagner. He strained his left oblique muscle in the tenth inning of last night's game and walked off the field with the help of the trainer.

The Braves will have the ability to replace Wagner on the roster before Sunday's game, and they will likely choose to activate Takashi Saito, but he has been battling his own injury woes. If Saito cannot pitch, the Braves could  activate Jair Jurrjens, who has also been out the last two weeks with an injury, or Scott Proctor, who traveled with the team to San Francisco in case he was needed as an injury replacement.

Whoever is activated to replace Wagner, it will likely be rookie Craig Kimbrel ascending to the closer role. He seems to be the hot hand in the bullpen right now, but the Braves could also use another rookie, Jonny Venters, to close.

Chipper Jones, Kris Medlen, Martin Prado, Jair Jurrjens, Eric O'Flaherty, Takashi Saito, and now Billy Wagner. That's an All-Star team on the disabled list, and yet still the Braves play on.

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