Forget the wins and losses. There was a moment back in late July where I was unsure that the 2020 season would happen at all. Then once it did return, there were no assurances that we would make it until the end. Well MLB did just that wrapping up a stressful, exhausting, exhilarating and just about any other adjective that you can think of regular season. They successfully incorporated the DH in the National League and the world didn’t end. They also introduced seven inning doubleheaders and started extra inning games with a runner at second and we all survived. Surprisingly, I kind of liked all of the changes but that is a story for another day.
Everyone thought that the NL East would be one of the strongest divisions in baseball but it didn’t quite work out that way. The Atlanta Braves overcame many pitfalls and not only captured another division crown but secured the No. 2 seed in the NL behind the Dodgers. They were able to overcome rotation struggles thanks to a powerful offense and a strong bullpen. A formidable Cincinnati Reds rotation awaits them in the first round and that is fine because it wouldn’t be right if there wasn’t some adversity waiting for this team. Will this season end any different than the last two? I have no idea but I am thankful that we reached this point because we all needed baseball a little more than ever in 2020.
We are going to spend the next two days previewing Atlanta’s first round matchup against Cincinnati so stay tuned.
More Braves News
The next task for the Braves will be determining who to include on their postseason roster for the Wild Card series. Atlanta added Pablo Sandoval to the mix on Sunday and he looks like a safe bet to end up with one of the team’s bench spots against the Reds. Atlanta is also dealing with several injury questions that will have to be answered before Wednesday’s Game 1. Ronald Acuña Jr. was scratched from Sunday’s lineup due to soreness in his left wrist. That is the same wrist that landed Acuña on the injured list earlier this season. The move was described as precautionary and Brian Snitker said that he expects to have his regular lineup available for Game 1 Wednesday.
Max Fried threw a side session on Sunday and is reportedly ready to go for Game 1. Austin Riley sat out the final two games of the regular season due to a sore quad but got some swings in against Fried and is expected to be ready to go as well.
The Braves weren’t able to escape Sunday’s 9-1 loss to the Red Sox without adding another name to the injury list. Chris Martin left Sunday’s game after throwing four pitches in the seventh inning with what was called “right groin discomfort.” Snitker told reporters after the game that Martin was day-to-day for now but they are hoping that it isn’t serious. His status for the Wild Card series is in question.
Freddie Freeman fell shy of the NL batting title on Sunday but may be the favorite to be named NL MVP. Marcell Ozuna is also deserving of some MVP votes after finishing with the NL lead in both home runs (18) and RBI (56). Ozuna went 2-for-4 with his 18th home run of the season in Sunday’s loss. He is the first Braves player to lead the NL in homers since Andruw Jones hit 51 in 2005.
The 2020 MLB Playoffs will officially get underway on Tuesday. Here is a look at the first round matchups.
FINAL MLB PLAYOFF BRACKETS— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 27, 2020
NL (starts Wednesday)
8 Milwaukee at 1 Los Angeles
7 Cincinnati at 2 Atlanta
6 Miami at 3 Chicago
5 St. Louis at 4 San Diego
AL (starts Tuesday)
8 Toronto at 1 Tampa Bay
7 Chicago at 2 Oakland
6 Houston at 3 Minnesota
5 New York at 4 Cleveland
Freddie Freeman finished second to Nationals outfielder Juan Soto in the NL batting race. Soto raised his average to .351 with a single and a walk in two plate appearances Sunday. At age 21, he is the youngest player to ever win a batting title.
The Miami Marlins are headed to the postseason for the first time since 2003 as the No. 6 seed in the NL. They suffered a couple of unfortunate injuries on Sunday that won’t help their playoff chances. Starling Marte left Sunday’s game after he was hit by a pitch in the helmet. The team announced the injury as a left ear contusion but it isn’t clear as to what his status will be going forward. One player who won’t be on Miami’s playoff roster is Jose Urena who was struck in the arm by a line drive. X-rays revealed a non-displaced fracture and his season is over.
Prior to Sunday’s game against the Braves, the Red Sox announced that manager Ron Roenicke will not return as manager for the club in 2021. Roenicke was elevated from bench coach to manager during spring training after the club parted ways with Alex Cora.
Angels GM Billy Eppler will also not be returning for the 2021 season after he was officially let go on Sunday. Speculation is already ramping up that Dave Dombrowski is the frontrunner to replace Eppler as Angels GM.