Take away from the MLB playoffs: The brave face a tough decision; Baker’s bets elevate Astros

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Wednesday was a good night for two teams on the brink, as the Los Angeles Dodgers crushed the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS, earning their first victory of the series, while the Houston Astros made it fair. enough to live another day against the Tampa Bay Rays, avoiding a sweep in the ALCS.

That means we’ll have another double dip on Thursday as these two entertaining series continue. But before we get there, we need to look back and piece together a few takeaways from Wednesday night’s action.

NLCS

Los Angeles Dodgers 15 – Braves d’Atlanta 3
The brave lead the series, 2-1

A bad start

Usually when things go wrong in a ball game it can be said that it always could have been worse. But in this case, it’s literally never been worse than 11th place Atlanta got the Dodgers hanging on in the first inning on Wednesday. The 32-minute executive set a postseason record for most runs scored in an inning as the Dodgers ambushed Braves starter Kyle Wright, chasing him out of the game after registering just two outs.

The problem for Wright was the whole location, as his sinkers and sliders were missing well outside the zone or sat on the set so the Dodgers hitters could start:

You just can’t make mistakes like these at such a dangerous and well-prepared formation as the one Wright faced. The same can be said of veteran reliever Grant Dayton, who followed Wright, left a host of fastballs in the heart of the plate and suffered a similar fate:

Dayton was making his first appearance of the postseason and is not a pitcher the Braves will rely on in crucial moments. But if and when Atlanta returns to Wright in this series, it’ll be a fascinating decision to watch.

For better or worse, he is Atlanta’s third-best starting pitcher after Max Fried and Ian Anderson. So if this series goes the distance, Wright will likely be needed again. You can even argue, given that he only threw 28 shots on Wednesday, that he would be available to come back to the mound in Game 5 on Friday or Game 6 on Saturday.

Wright pitched brilliantly against the Miami Marlins in the Division Series just a week ago, working six scoreless innings while striking out seven. There’s reason to believe he can bounce back. But this Los Angeles lineup is a different animal than Miami’s. The Braves have now seen a very good start and a very bad one from Wright. It will be interesting to see if he succeeds again.

Manage for tomorrow

After the premiere, the night of the Braves manager Brian Snitker turned into a delicate exercise in balancing the short-term demand to complete nine innings of baseball with the long-term desire to preserve the arms of the bullpen and put his team in a position to be as competitive as possible for Thursday Night Game 4.

Which is why, even though it became extremely obvious that he didn’t have it overnight, Dayton wore it from halfway through the first until there were two in the third, allowing eight runs on eight hits – including three home runs – while 10 of 16 batters he saw hit base.

It’s also why Travis d’Arnaud, who caught all the throws in the 66 innings the Braves have played this postseason on the night, was hit with a pinch in the third inning, taking the rest of his night to recover. before. many more games that this series brings. Ditto for 31-year-old first baseman Freddie Freeman and young superstar Ronald Acuna Jr., who both came out of the game after their second home plate appearance of the night.

There are no days off in this series, remember, so the energy has to be managed. Even Dave Roberts took the opportunity to get Mookie Betts out of the game in the fourth and Corey Seager off his feet a set later.

In the end, Snitker managed 27 strikeouts without having to get too deep into his paddock, a major credit to rookie swingman Huascar Ynoa, who carried his team through the middle frames with four innings of one-shot at his post-season debut. . Ynoa’s work is probably the only reason the Braves haven’t resorted to a position player on the mound.

This was especially important given that on Thursday the Braves are set to start Bryse Wilson, a 22-year-old who has made just 15 appearances in the big league and threw a 5.91 ERA between them. The longest of Wilson’s six outings this season was 82 shots. And it will be surprising to see him come close to that amount on Thursday against the best team in baseball. Snitker will likely visit his pen early and often.

Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw will be on the hill for the Dodgers, and the massive talent gap in that pitching game gives Los Angeles a 58.2% chance of evening the series, according to ZIPS projections. But the Braves are still favored to win the NLCS in 62.2% of the results. This counts on them to return to Fried and Anderson later in the series. Considering how things turned out for them on Wednesday, that can’t happen soon enough.

ALCS

Houston Astros 4 – Rays de Tampa Bay 3
Rays lead the series, 3-1

Live and die with Altuve

Jose Altuve’s unusual struggles from second base over the course of the ALCS was a big topic to tackle in Wednesday’s game, as many questioned whether the Astros could afford to trust him by playing the position with if little margin for error in the series. The thing is, Dusty Baker runs the club. And that’s nothing if not an old school manager of the player. He probably never thought of it.

So of course Altuve’s name was on the Astros lineup card, hitting third and playing second. And it didn’t take long for him to make a statement with his bat, as he took a 100 mph fastball from Tyler Glasnow 400 feet over the left field wall in the first to open the scoring:

Returning in the third with two and two outs, Altuve circled another Glasnow heater, this time bouncing it off the base of the right wall of the field, providing the second inning of the game for Houston.

Difficulty or not, which is why Astros will always have Altuve at the top of their roster. He’s a .293 / .361 / .545 career hitter in 59 career postseason games, and he now has homers in five of his last six games.

Greinke against Arozarena and Dusty the player

Astros starter Zack Greinke sailed through three innings, allowing only one walk as he shuffled and matched ’80s fastballs,’ 80s modifications, and large curved balls looping that all landed somewhere along the strike zone. This was Greinke at his best, as the likely future Hall of Famer won well-placed calls and minimized hard contact, wiping out that single step with a double play ground ball.

But an Austin Meadows blooper discovered the grass on the field for a single in the fourth, which brought in the insatiable Randy Arozarena, who entered the game hitting an absurd .419 / .479 / .814 in the post-season. That being considered, you can’t blame Greinke for nibbling away at the edges at the start of the plate’s appearance, just as you can’t be surprised that Arozarena doesn’t have it, firing two changes and a curveball. to work a 3-0 count. .

Arozarena was taking all the way when Greinke gave him a 3-0 fastball, but he was in off-pitch attack mode later as Greinke left a total break and over the inside half:

It’s a 73mph pitch that left Arozarena’s bat at 102, as he hammered it over the left-field wall to tie the game.

So, quite an interesting call for Baker two innings later when Greinke allowed back-to-back singles with one out, bringing Arozarena back to home plate representing the go-ahead run.

Ryan Pressly was hot and ready in the Astros ‘enclosure and it looked like he would step into the game as Baker emerged from the Astros’ dugout. But after a conference on the mound with Greinke, Baker left his starter in the game for another crack against Arozarena. Again, nothing if not an old school manager of the player.

And Greinke rewarded his manager’s confidence, forcing Arozarena to go too far on a verified swing and strike for a 1-2 change. (During the replay, it seems Arozarena was difficult to do, but no human should expect him to accurately make such a limit call from over 90 feet away)

But if you thought it was a gamble, what about Baker’s decision to leave Greinke in the game after Ji-man Choi extended the inning and loaded up the bases with a field single? Once again, Pressly was warmed up and waiting. But this time Baker didn’t even move. And it would have been something to see the discussion in the Houston front office focus group as next hitter Mike Brosseau worked hard.

But Greinke returned once again, leading Brosseau to pursue a devastating change – his 93rd and final pitch of the night – for the third outing of the set.

Oh, seeing the glasses fall off the faces of the MLB front office analysts when this happened. The obvious and gradual move to make in each of these places was to put Pressly in the game. Greinke was at the end of the line, Arozarena and Brosseau had seen him twice already, and one of the best relievers in the match was ready. to come in and give them a different look. You’d be hard pressed to find a manager in the game who wouldn’t.

But that’s not Dusty Baker’s style. The man is 71 years old. He’s been around for so long that he’s handled Bud Black – nearly 2,000 games have handled himself – as a player. He’s currently leading his fifth different postseason team, the only MLB manager to do so. And, surprisingly enough, here he is taking greater risks than any of his peers.

Upper bridge

There is the upper deck and then there is this:

That bombshell from George Springer – 110.9 mph from the start, 405 feet throw distance – broke the tie 2-2 in the fifth and gave the Astros everything they needed to stay alive in the series.

The Rays lagged behind and tied the tie for third against Pressly, who was ultimately brought into the game a batter in the ninth. But Yoshi Tsutsugo flew to the right to end it.

The Rays still have a 91.8% chance of winning the series, according to ZIPS projections. But the Astros live to fight another day. And in baseball, that’s all you need.



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