A capsule look at the Reds-Braves playoff series

FILE – In this Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020, file photo, Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman connects for a grand slam over left center field during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, in Atlanta. Game 1 of a National League wild-card baseball series between the Braves and Cincinnati Reds is Wednesday, Sept. 30. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)

By The Associated Press

A capsule look at the best-of-three playoff series between the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves beginning today. All games in Atlanta:

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CINCINNATI REDS

Record: 31-29.

Playoff Entry: NL wild card.

Playoff Seed: No. 7.

Manager: David Bell (second season).

Projected Rotation: RHP Trevor Bauer (5-4, NL-best 1.73 ERA, 100Ks), RHP Luis Castillo (4-6, 3.21, 89Ks), RHP Sonny Gray (5-3, 3.70, 72 Ks).

Top Hitters: DH Jesse Winker (.255, 12 HRs, 23 RBIs), 1B Joey Votto (.226, 11, 22), RF Nick Castellanos (.225, 14, 34), 3B Eugenio Suarez (.202, 15, 38).

Top Relievers: RHP Raisel Iglesias (4-3, 2.74 ERA, 8 saves), RHP Lucas Sims (3-0, 2.45), LHP Amir Garrett (1-0, 2.45, 1 save), RHP Tejay Antone (0-3, 2.80).

Series Summary: The Reds took off in early September and earned their first playoff appearance since 2013. Cincinnati won six in a row beginning Sept. 13 and finished the season 11-3, including an extra-inning victory over Minnesota in the finale. The team won its last five series. The resurgence coincided with that of Votto, benched by Bell for three games when he was batting .191 in late August. The veteran slugger responded by batting .367 with three home runs in the next nine games and kept on hitting. … Bauer won three of his last four starts. … Cincinnati has three All-Star starters lined up for this series, while the injury-plagued Braves rotation was patched together all season behind Fried. … The Reds haven’t advanced in the postseason since 1995, when they swept the Dodgers 3-0 in the Division Series before getting swept by Atlanta 4-0 in the NLCS. That was the only time these clubs have met in the playoffs.

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ATLANTA BRAVES

Record: 35-25.

Playoff Entry: NL East champions.

Playoff Seed: No. 2.

Manager: Brian Snitker (fifth season).

Projected Rotation: LHP Max Fried (7-0, 2.25 ERA, 50 Ks), RHP Ian Anderson (3-2, 1.95, 6 games), RHP Kyle Wright (2-4, 5.21, 30 Ks).

Top Hitters: 1B Freddie Freeman (.341, 13 HRs, 53 RBIs, 51 runs, 1.102 OPS), DH Marcell Ozuna (.338, 18, 56, 77 hits, 1.067 OPS), OF Ronald Acuña Jr. (.250, 14, 29).

Top Relievers: RHP Mark Melancon (2-1, 2.78 ERA, 11 saves), LHP Will Smith (2-2, 4.50), RHP Chris Martin (1-1, 1.00, 1 save), RHP Bryse Wilson (1-0, 4.02, 1 save).

Series Summary: The Braves have won three straight NL East titles but haven’t won a playoff series since 2001. They’ve dropped 10 straight postseason rounds, including a loss to St. Louis in the 2019 Division Series. … The Braves swept Cincinnati in the 1995 NLCS before beating Cleveland for their only World Series championship in Atlanta. … Braves won the division despite a wave of injuries and demotions from their rotation, including the loss of top starter Mike Soroka for the season and most recently shutting down veteran Cole Hamels after only one start. Fried tweaked his ankle in his last start on Wednesday but threw well in a side session Sunday. Anderson has only six career appearances, and the young rotation could force the Braves to rely on their bullpen. Acuña was scratched from Sunday’s final regular-season game with left wrist irritation, a concern since he spent time on the injured list with the same problem last month.

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