After dropping Game 1 of the NLDS in frustrating fashion, the Braves are now looking to at least return home with a split as they get set for Game 2 against the Brewers.
For the second game in a row, it’ll figure to be tough sledding for the Braves at the plate since Milwaukee is sending out Brandon Woodruff to start this evening’s game. Woodruff’s numbers may not have been as dominant as Corbin Burnes’ were, but a 2.56 ERA and a 2.96 FIP with a 3.05 xFIP is still very impressive in its own right. With that being said, the Braves had their chances to do something against Burnes yesterday and if history is any indication, they should have some chances against Woodruff today.
Back on July 31, the Braves got Woodruff for eight hits and three runs over 5.1 innings, which wasn’t exactly a high point this season for the right-hander. Jorge Soler picked up two singles during that game and Dansby Swanson was responsible for the three runs that were scored — he singled in one run and then hit a dinger to bring in the other two. If history repeats itself and the Braves manage to get one over on the Brewers in Milwaukee, then it could be due to those two playing a key role once again.
Brandon Woodruff is a really good pitcher but by no means has he looked dominant over this final stretch of the regular season heading into October. Part of that could be due to the fact that the Brewers basically won the NL Central at a canter (even with that crazy run the Cardinals went on) so they didn’t exactly need him to be completely lights out. Part of that is he’s just been slowing down after a very hot start to the season in the early stages. Still, this is a pitcher who can be just as good as anybody on his best day and the Braves will surely be aware of that going into this evening’s contest.
Meanwhile, the Braves themselves are putting a very good pitcher on the mound later on, as Max Fried will be making his start. All you really need to say about how Fried has been doing lately is that he’s thrown a Maddux in each of the past two months. Things may have been up-and-down for Fried in the early stages of the season but as of right now, Fried has really got it going at the moment and I’d say that the Braves can be confident that he can go out there and pick up where Charlie Morton left off yesterday.
Fried didn’t pitch against the Brewers whenever the Braves faced them this season, but he does have some pretty good numbers against the NL Central teams he faced. Fried had two good starts against the pre-streak Cardinals, one really good start against the Pirates and one really bad start against those same Pirates. Again, it doesn’t mean much since Fried has yet to pitch against these Brewers but at the same time, I think it’s safe to trust that Fried can get something done against this particular lineup.
Also, Fried himself has stated that in terms of Postseason experience, he’s at that point where he’s “able to come in, have some familiarity of what the atmosphere is going to be like, what to expect late in the game, in a playoff game, in a deciding game. It’s no longer speeding up. At the end of the day, the person with the slower heartbeat normally has the advantage. So just being able to take it pitch by pitch.” This will be Fried’s fifth career Postseason start and his thirteenth career appearance in the playoffs, so he’s definitely starting to get really used to the atmosphere and the intensity that this level of baseball has.
The first game of that series went about as you’d expect it to go for the Brewers. The pitching was excellent and the defense was mostly good. With that being said, Atlanta’s pitching staff on their best day is not too far off and Charlie Morton proved that. Max Fried will have an opportunity to prove himself this afternoon and the Braves will have another shot to hopefully capitalize on any mistakes that the Brewers happen to make later on this evening. The Braves had their opportunities yesterday, but they were either wasted or wiped out by Milwaukee’s pitching and defense.
Either way, I wouldn’t say that this is an impossible task for the Braves. If they play well and Fried pitches like we expect him to, then this should be a big opportunity for Atlanta to return home with a split. The first game didn’t go Atlanta’s way, but today is a new day and personally, I like how things are shaping up for the Braves in this one. We’ll just have to wait and see what unfolds in a few hours.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, October 9, 5:07 p.m. ET
Location: American Family Field, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network