The date was October 19, 1999.
The number 1 movie in America was “The Best Man”.
The best songs in America were “Something Like That” by Tim McGraw and “Heartbreaker” by Mariah Carey.
And, more importantly, the Braves beat the New York Mets in a walk to Andruw Jones in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the NLCS to advance to their fifth World Series of the 1990s.
Although almost 21 years have passed since that wonderful moment, your Atlanta Braves are set to make their first World Series appearance this century. They created the opportunity with some amazing throws and timely hitting, while also mixing a lot of power and spice along the way. Since mid-August, it seems like there is something special about this squad, and they continue to confirm it more and more since the schedule moved to October.
However, there is one more victory to make this all a reality. And as talented as the Dodgers are, that’s far from a guarantee.
When the best of the Braves faced the best of the Dodgers, the Braves performed better on several occasions. Other than Kyle Wright, Josh Tomlin and Grant Dayton, the Braves starters and bullpen have kept quiet about the Dodgers’ offense. Against a duo many considered one of this year’s top playoff starting duos, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw, the Braves’ offense did enough to sustain their starter’s efforts. It was a full team effort against the best team in the majors that helped the Braves earn their 3-1 lead in the series, and that must continue tonight and throughout the weekend (if necessary ) to pick up.
With their season on the line, the Dodgers will look to young right-hander Dustin May to start Game 5. While May has been primarily used for playoff relief, he certainly has some dominant things that will make him a tough game for Atlanta. May (2.57 ERA / 4.62 FIP / 3.98 xFIP) was 3-1 in 56 innings during the regular season and did not allow a run in 4 2⁄3 playoff innings. In Game 1, he gave up a stroke and walked over 1 2⁄3 innings against the Braves. While May’s move on the fields has allowed her to be featured frequently on Pitching Ninja’s Twitter feed, the Braves have plenty of experience against quality talent over the past few weeks. If the Braves can manage to discipline May’s throws (much easier said than done) and force him to throw some hitting shots, they can be successful.
If they need any clues, I’m sure Rafael Ortega can be consulted.
Right now, TBD is slated to start in Atlanta, a name many Atlanta fans have grown accustomed to seeing this season. While the name that starts the game is important, how other names are used throughout the game is the most important development for Atlanta tonight. Manager Brian Snitker has been very good with his handling of the reliever box in the playoffs, consistently placing his arms in positions where they can be effective.
As Anthony Traurig has pointed out, perhaps the best option tonight is to throw Tyler Matzek into a pure enclosure effort. Theoretically, presenting names like Matzek, Chris Martin, Will Smith and Mark Melancon against the top of the Dodgers order whenever it is expected would be ideal. However, while the Braves need to be aggressive, they also need to be careful not to burn their enclosure down until the weekend if other games occur.
On the other hand, starting Wright or Tomlin and risking falling behind early isn’t appealing either. Perhaps the best option is a compromise between the ideas listed above. Start the game with a quality reliever to have a good chance of limiting the Dodgers to start the game, handling Wright or Tomlin to pass a few innings after that and then playing the odds that the Bats and the Braves bullpen get the best Dodgers beat and bullpen again as they did in three of the four games in this series.
Whichever way the Braves decide to approach the game with their pitch, the pressure is on the Dodgers as the Braves have allowed themselves the luxury of trusting what has worked so far. As they have done on numerous occasions under Snitker, this core of Braves continues to bounce back immediately after struggling. And this time, they did it against arguably the best pitcher of this generation and the best baseball team. The time has finally come when, if the Braves are just playing to their potential, they can be considered the best team in baseball.
If they play like that again tonight, there’s a good chance the next time they play it will be in the World Series.
Date / time of game: Friday, October 16, 9:08 p.m. ET
Location: Globe Life Field, Arlington, Texas
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network