No-Days-Off Gives Braves an Advantage?

I believe the Braves bullpen depth makes the no-days-off playoff format a positive for the the Braves. Having watched two playoff games, which is more than enough for an internet rando to come up with a theory, I’ll elaborate.

The conventional wisdom is that the Braves will be hurt by the format by possibly being forced to use 4th or 5th starters, and if you squint hard enough, you can find maybe 3. But here’s the thing. Starting pitching is important, but has there ever been a time in baseball history where it has been less important? Marlins starters, for example, pitched into the 7th inning only 8 times all season, per Stathead.

In an era where bullpens are routinely asked to cover 3 innings or more, and relievers rarely pitch more than 3 consecutive days, or even consecutive days if they have a long outing, the Braves are a lot better suited to cover 5 or 7 consecutive days than anybody else. Brian Snitker will have to manage his bullpen workload carefully, especially if he uses a bullpen game, but he has 4 legitimate closer options, 2 former closers in Darren O’Day and A.J. Minter, plus Tyler Matzek and Grant Dayton that he can comfortably use in close ballgames.

We got a peek against the Reds at what could happen in a long series. It looked pretty good for Cincinnati in game 1 when Trevor Bauer and Raisel Iglesias combined to shut out the Braves for 9 innings. It was a game the Braves could have easily lost, but even if they had, they forced Iglesias to throw 26 pitches. Iglesias relieved again in game 2, and facing Marcell Ozuna for the 2nd time in 2 days, allowed the first of the 2 homers he would give up that inning. In a longer series, the Braves are going to see a lot of tired and familiar relievers, crappy ones, or both.

Quirky picks get clicks, which could be one reason why so many experts were picking the 7th seeded Reds over the 2nd seeded Braves in the wild card round. Another reason, though, could have been that Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo, and Sonny Gray looked pretty good when stacked up against a team who notoriously had only one reliable starter. It’s a certified crapshoot, but at even money, why not just pick the team that won more games? There’s probably a reason why they did.

Author: Rusty S.

Rusty S. is a Braves Journal reader since 2005 and an occasional innings-eater. It was my understanding that there would be no expectations.

31 thoughts on “No-Days-Off Gives Braves an Advantage?”

  1. Regarding Bauer and being on the spectrum—even if he is, it doesn’t excuse him being a prick. I have to work with jackwagons like him every day in the tech industry.

  2. And to continue, the guy is painfully mentally fragile. He goes on tilt anytime something goes wrong on the mound, and his “dig” at Acuna is pretty pathetic. Guy hit a rocket double off him and his team, you know, won the game and the series. But hey, he struck him out once and that’s supposed to make anyone quake? Pitiful, and petty. He’s not half as clever as he thinks he is.

    He’s pretty obviously using pine tar this year to get the increased spin rates he’s always bragged about getting at driveline when using the stuff. If the Braves sign him, fine, but I am never gonna like him.

  3. I agree, Rusty. You need some starters to be sure, but a starter with an off night is just as bad as a reliever with an off night, and there are very few games now that don’t require at least three relievers. 6 reliable relievers are better than a league average third and fourth starter by a large margin. And the current strategy to wear starters out by the 5th inning works even better in the playoffs where the stress levels are naturally higher.

  4. I found the Bauer video hilarious. But he is probably cheating and someone who doesn’t like him will call him out on it one day. Then you might be stuck with the other Bauer — a petulant, exhausting, overpaid 3/4 starter.

  5. @66 @76 Great story, ububba. And I think everyone knows the mound was lowered for a lot of reasons but it has stuck in baseball lore that Gibson was the main cause. I think is actually a base characteristic of a true Hall of Famer – a legendary story of some sort. If a player is so good that his play creates a legendary story or some basic change in the sport then he certainly belongs in the Hall of Fame. It shouldn’t just be about statistics but his presence in the game. And, no, I don’t think gambling or steroids is a legendary story. Gibson certainly created a true legendary story.

    The only thing close I ever came to that was sometime in the mid-seventies. We lived in Alabama so I rarely had a chance to see a MLB game, but my Mother liked shopping at Rich’s in Atlanta so I begged to go to a game. Turned out it was against the Phillies and my only real memory of it was that Schmidt and Luzinski both hit HRs (Luzinski’s a GS) and the Braves were crushed. I looked it up and I guess it was 1976. I had no idea it was also Carlton vs. Messersmith. I’d have paid more attention to that if I were to see it now, although neither pitched particularly well. I also didn’t remember the Braves tied it up in the top of the 8th before Schmidt’s HR in the bottom half. All I remember was it being another Braves loss where the pitching got crushed. That’s mostly what I remember about all the Braves teams of the 70s.

  6. I actually think 5 games with no off days is the right format for a series. It has always bothered me that you have to have 5 starting pitchers during the season but you can get by with 3 and at most 4 in the playoffs.

    I think we’ll be okay as long as our starters can average just over 5 innings.

  7. Td#8 – I agree so much. I hate that the regular season tests teams’ depth differently from the end-of-season championship tournament. (And I’m sure this opinion has nothing to do with the fact that the Braves’ rotation during the glory years typically had a useless advantage at the 4/5 spots.)

    Re: Bauer. This School of Mines presentation with him and his father has been posted a couple times over at Primer:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvQ4QEDBMoI@50m10s
    It’s set to where they start talking about spin rates and how you can spot cheaters, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff. He’s basically busting present day him a few years ago.

  8. So the schedule is out and…well, it’s a whole lot of 2 p.m. Eastern. The first two games are definitely that, and Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for 2 p.m. and Game 5 for 4 p.m., but those could change if other series finish sooner. Game 2 Wednesday is also on MLB Network, which might provide another obstacle for folks. The other four are on Fox Sports 1.

  9. Just following up. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see an open roof on Atlanta home days (highs in the mid-to-high 80’s are very Atlanta-like) and a closed roof on Marlins home days, to match MIA, especially with no fans to cater to.

  10. So fun fact: a hurricane is going to head in that general direction later in the week. It’s supposed to eventually swing right, head into Louisiana and miss them, but not by enough where anybody should be at all confident about it right now IMO…and it is 2020.

  11. I know for covid purposes that outside is better than inside, but I have no idea if that makes any difference in buildings that size.

  12. @14 – It’s fine. I still like the Braves and I hope we don’t change the name, but this is great as a way to honor Hank Aaron.

  13. I 100% want us to change the name and I love what you’ve done there Ryan. Hammers is a great name. No one else has it, honors Aaron, has a good hitting and pitching connotation (hammer curve). Seems like a no brainer to me.

  14. Just to exercise some Eric Gregg demons, lets all as Braves fans forgive him thereby paving our way to this NLDS win over the Marlins. lol

    But seriously, if you need help in the forgiveness process, watch this great interview he did during a rain delay back in 1990. Seemed like a genuine personality despite what was going on with him in 1997.

  15. I’m sure Eric Gregg was a very nice & entertaining guy, but… I’ll let the video speak for itself — my reaction remains the same as it was 23 years ago:

  16. So it will be

    Fried vs. Alcantara
    Anderson vs. Lopez
    Wright vs. Sanchez

    in the first three games.

    I’m going Atlanta in 3.

  17. @25 & 26 Are yall serious?? Cmon man.

    His humanity was way more important than one baseball game in 1997. Yall are cold.

  18. Every time I see a video compilation of his strike zone on that day, it’s always even worse than I remember it. Just completely absurd. It absolutely crossed way beyond the line from the old “that’s my zone” thing into actively failing to do his job properly.

    I will not desecrate his grave (that does seem a little much), but you can’t make me say anything nice about him.

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