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Braves look for a solid outing from Ian Anderson with chance to advance on the line

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The Braves hope the offense gets started a bit earlier than yesterday.

Wild Card Round - Cincinnati Reds v Atlanta Braves - Game One Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The longest scoreless game in playoff history.

A playoff record 37 combined strikeouts between the Reds and Braves.

The Braves becoming the first team in playoff history to strikeout 20 or more times and have 20 or more players left on base in a playoff game.

And yet, despite all their failures yesterday, the Braves still pulled out a Game 1 victory for the first time since 2001.

This same team that scored 29 runs earlier this season against another team that won a playoff game yesterday looked completely out of sync for most of Game 1. But after the Braves bullpen escaped three straight jams in extra innings, Freddie Freeman finally said enough was enough. A line drive into center field to score Cristian Pache and the lone run of the game for the win was an epic swing of positive momentum the Braves had not felt in the playoffs in a long time.

However, despite the heroics and drama from yesterday, this playoff format in 2020 allows little time to sit back and admire one’s work. Once again, the Reds and Braves will be getting a full day of action stated, with the Braves having a good chance to win a playoff series for the first time in nearly two decades. However, they also are one day away from being in yet another elimination game. While the pressure is definitely more on the Reds today, there is little room for error and plenty of motivation for Atlanta to get the job done.

For the second straight year, the Braves will be relying on an impressive rookie in a big spot. Last year, it was Mike Soroka who took the mound in Game 3 versus the Cardinals, a game in which the Braves eventually won. This year, it will be rookie Ian Anderson. Anderson (1.95 ERA/ 2.54 FIP/ 3.45 xFIP) will take the mound for his seventh career start, but within the first six starts of his career, he has gained plenty of measurable experience. Wins over the Yankees and at Fenway Park, as well as outings against one of league’s best offenses in the Mets and another playoff team in the Marlins, highlight an impressive debut season. Though he has been a bit more hittable as of late than earlier this year, he has kept the Braves in each game he started, and shown he can work deep into games. After yesterday’s marathon that nearly used the entire Braves bullpen, at least five innings of work from Anderson will be ideal.

The best way to describe the Braves effort against Trevor Bauer is that they survived. Bauer absolutely dominated the Atlanta lineup. And though Bauer is likely the toughest arm Atlanta could face for a while in the playoffs, today’s task remains quite tough in the form of Luis Castillo. Castillo (3.21 ERA/ 2.65 FIP/ 2.82 xFIP) will take the mound for his first career playoff start, coming off a season in which he has pitched the best of his career. With a 11.44 K/9 rate this season, the Braves will be facing yet another pitcher who can produce strikeouts at a high rate.

Though he certainly is quite talented, Castillo has also shown a vulnerability against tougher competition. Against both the Twins and Cubs this season, Castillo allowed four runs apiece, and did not make it past five innings. If the Braves can regain their focus at the plate, they can find some success.

The bright side of yesterday’s struggles is that it is highly unlikely the Braves offense will be that dormant again. However, the Braves must find a way to get their offense going early to support both Anderson and a bullpen that is likely tired. After yesterday’s heart stopping experience, with a chance to advance, the hope is that the Atlanta offense can do it in convincing fashion, as we all know they certainly have shown the ability to do plenty of times this year.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Thursday, October 1st 12:08 p.m. ET

Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, Georgia

TV: ESPN

Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network