Braves OnUp Reporter
As the Braves enter the final weekend of the regular season, there are still three very important games left to be played. At stake, home field advantage in the NLDS, and if things go really well, it could mean home field throughout the duration of their playoff run. Starting tonight, the Braves will take on a Phillies squad that has lost eight straight and has quickly gone from postseason contender to middle of the pack in the NL East standings. Last night, Brian Snitker opted to rest both Ender Inciarte and Freddie Freeman, but both are expected to be right back in there tonight. Snit said prior to yesterdays game it’s important to try and win as many games as possible between now and Sunday, but also after such a long season, he’d also like to give guys a bit of a breather.
What’s started to become a little more clear is what the NLDS rotation could look like. Mike Foltynewicz, who starts tonight for the final time in the regular season is lined up to start on Thursday, and would likely be followed by Anibal Sanchez and Kevin Gausman. Still up for grabs is the fourth spot in the rotation, which I think will almost certainly go to Julio Teheran. Last night, Teheran allowed just one run over six innings of work, with the lone blemish being a third inning solo homer from Kevin Plawecki. Over his last nine starts of the regular season, Teheran has posted a 2.78 ERA with just four home runs allowed over 55 innings of work. Teheran, who has served as the clubs Opening Day starter for each of the last five seasons has been much more consistent down the stretch, and also has the advantage of postseason experience back in 2013. Sean Newcomb and Touki Toussaint could also be awarded the fourth spot, but I’d think the Braves would tend to lean towards the veteran Teheran. Both Newcomb and Toussaint could provide depth from the Atlanta bullpen, if they are in fact the two that don’t make the starting staff.
When it comes to the starting staff, bullpen and the remainder of the roster, those final decisions could be determined when the Braves find out who they’ll face in the first round. Also, with Dansby Swanson’s future uncertain, it could open the door for Ryan Flaherty to earn a spot as a backup infielder, with Charlie Culberson getting the majority of the playing time at short. Again, a lot of those final roster decisions will be made once the Braves find out their opponent, but don’t expect too many surprises when it comes to who wins the final few available spots.