The Atlanta Braves have advanced to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2001 after their 7-0 victory over the Miami Marlins on Thursday.
After knocking out the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Wild Card series, the Braves ran their 2020 playoff record to 5-0 by sweeping the Marlins in the NL Division Series. They also ended Miami’s postseason series winning streak at seven dating back to 1997.
Marlins starter Sixto Sanchez opened the game with two scoreless innings, including escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the top of the second, but the floodgates opened for the Braves in the third. They scored four runs in the third before adding one in the fourth and two more in the fifth.
Travis d’Arnaud’s excellent postseason continued with a two-run double in the third inning. He finished the series with four extra-base hits and seven RBI.
Notable Game Stats
- Kyle Wright (ATL): 6 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 7 K
- Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL): 0-3, 2 BB, 2 R
- Travis d’Arnaud (ATL): 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R
- Dansby Swanson (ATL): 2-3, 2 RBI, R
- Sixto Sanchez (MIA): 3 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
- Corey Dickerson (MIA): 3-4, 3 1B
- Jesus Aguilar (MIA): 1-4, 2 K
Loaded Offense Makes Braves Dangerous
As brilliant as Atlanta’s pitching staff has been in the playoffs thus far—Thursday marked its fourth shutout in five games—it’s hard to properly judge the group because the level of competition has been lacking.
The Marlins and Cincinnati Reds ranked eighth and 11th, respectively, in the National League in weighted runs created plus, per FanGraphs.
Credit Max Fried, Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright for doing what they had to do for the Braves, but the National League Championship Series against either the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Diego Padres will be their first real test of the postseason.
On the other side of the equation, Atlanta’s offense continues to torment opposing pitchers. After needing 13 innings to score in Game 1 against the Reds in the Wild Card series, the Braves have scored at least five runs in three of their past four games.
They did that despite Freddie Freeman having just three hits (all singles) in 18 at-bats all postseason.
The Braves did their damage during the regular season playing in the same division as reigning two-time NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom and a Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation that finished second in the NL with 6.9 FanGraphs wins above replacement.
Even factoring in some potential regression for Fried, Anderson and Wright on the mound in the NLCS, Atlanta is a serious threat to beat either one of its potential opponents because of how quickly this offense can strike.
Surprise Season Sets Marlins Up for Success
Even though the end is a disappointment for the Marlins, there’s no way to classify this season as anything but a rousing success for the franchise.
On the first day of the regular season, the Marlins were tied with the Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles as having the longest odds to win the World Series. They lost 203 games combined in 2018 and 2019.
It wasn’t hard to figure out why the outlook was bleak for Miami back in July.
As the season continued, the Marlins started piecing together a roster that was at least capable of competing on any given night. The biggest move came on Aug. 20 when Sanchez was promoted to the big leagues. He only made nine starts between the regular season and playoffs, but the results were often electric.
Even on Thursday, before things got away from Sanchez in the third inning, he showed tremendous poise and electric stuff in a second-inning jam:
Miami’s starting rotation is the biggest reason to be optimistic about its future. Sanchez, Sandy Alcantara, Daniel Castano, Pablo Lopez and Elieser Hernandez are all 26 years old or younger. The highest ERA in that group was 3.61 by Lopez.
Things aren’t as certain with the Marlins lineup. The group was pieced together this season with a series of players over the age of 30 like Jesus Aguilar, Miguel Rojas, Starling Marte, Jon Berti and Corey Dickerson.
In order for the Marlins to take the next step in their development, the prospect pipeline will need to start producing some hitters. Jesus Sanchez, Lewin Diaz and Jazz Chisholm made their MLB debuts in 2020; both players struggled, but there’s no reason to panic based on a combined total of 45 games among them.
Outfielder J.J. Bleday, drafted No. 4 overall in 2019, could make it to the big leagues next season.
The rebuilding process has been long and frustrating for Miami’s fanbase, but it’s finally producing some serious results that seem likely to stick.
The Braves will play the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLCS on Oct. 12.
via Bleacher Report – Front Page https://ift.tt/2gMI6gF
October 8, 2020 at 04:57PM