Projecting the Braves Round 1 Roster

This Friday, the Braves will kick off their 5-game matchup against the Milwaukee Brewers. Here’s the schedule:

  • Game 1, Friday October 8th @Milwaukee, 4:37 ET
  • Game 2, Saturday, October 9th @Milwaukee, 5:07 ET
  • Game 3, Monday, October 11th @Atlanta, TBD
  • Game 4, Tuesday, October 12th, @Atlanta, TBD
  • Game 5, Thursday, October 14th @Milwaukee, TBD

With off days after the 2nd and 4th games, the Braves will only need to carry 4 starting pitchers, which would opens up more relief options and/or an added bench player. However, if history holds true, the Braves might go a different route and utilize piggy-backed starting pitchers in Game 4.

First Round 26-Man Roster Predictions

Starting Pitching

Unless there’s an injury that pops up out of nowhere, the first 3 starting pitchers are easy predictions:

  1. Charlie Morton
  2. Max Fried
  3. Ian Anderson

From there, the pitchers that have logged innings as an MLB starter (no, I’m not counting openers) on the 40-man are Drew Smyly, Huascar Ynoa, Tucker Davidson, Kyle Muller, Touki Toussaint, and Kyle Wright.

In this scenario, we can likely scratch Tucker, Muller, Touki, and Wright. For Tucker, it’s been said they’re looking at him for the later rounds as he’s just not ready yet after a long IL stint due to a “forearm strain”. Kyle Wright Houdini’d his way into the postseason mix last year and was brilliant until he wasn’t, but there doesn’t seem to be any faith in him currently as he’s been leapfrogged by everyone all year after a horrendous start. Both Muller and Touki suffered from inconsistencies and simply lost the ability to command the zone. I think if they were going to be given a chance, especially for the 1st round, they’d have been called back last week. By law of subtraction, that leaves us with Ynoa and Smyly. The 2 of them piggybacking in Game 4 makes a lot of sense in an “all hands on deck” bullpen game. So, 5 “starters” for 4 games.

The Infield

While it might not be the best infield in the bigs, it’s definitely close and there are 0 questions on who makes up this 4: Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, and Austin Riley

The Catchers

With breaks between Games 2 and 3, then another between 4 and 5, William Contreras is likely only there for emergency purpose as Travis d’Arnaud will likely be squatting for all the innings.

The Outfield

What happens when your big offseason signing gets himself in a domestic scandal, your future CF stud turns dud quick, and the best player in baseball tears an ACL? You buy a brand new outfield. I expect the Braves will continue more of the same with Jorge Soler in RF, Adam Duvall in CF, and Eddie Rosario in LF.

The Bench

Here’s where it starts to get interesting. I’m guessing that Joc Pederson, Ehire Adrianza, and William Contreras are locks, but what about Guillermo Heredia or Orlando Arcia? Would the Braves rather have someone like Cristian Pache to be the defensive whiz/pinch runner? Or maybe even go with pure speed in Terrance Gore, whose sole purpose is to run really, really fast? Would the Braves entertain the idea of 3 catchers to free up Contreras to pinch hit? If the team really thinks they’ll be running a bullpen game for Game 4, it’s highly likely that they’d want a deeper bench rather than going with 4 as they’ve been nearly all season. My guess is they go with a 5-man bench, keep Heredia and add a 3rd catcher like Jeff Mathis so they can free up d’Arnaud or Contreras for pinch-hitting purposes. If the Braves make it to where they’re facing an AL team, I’d wager things could get wild.

Relief Pitchers

Thus far, I’ve got the Braves going with 5ish starting pitchers, then 8 starting position players, a 5-man bench, and that leaves room for 8 relievers. Jesse Chavez, Chris Martin, Luke Jackson, A.J. Minter, Tyler Matzek, Richard Rodriguez, and Will Smith are probably the first 7 and newcomer Spencer Strider will round out the Elite 8. Rich Rod and Martin are the 2 that have their feet to the fire and could be yanked from this list should they falter and Braves still advance.

What are your thoughts on the Braves Postseason Roster? Have a setup you’d like to see instead? Let’s hear in the comments!

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

48 thoughts on “Projecting the Braves Round 1 Roster”

  1. I have been thinking Webb would be the odd man out in favor of Strider as well. I know in the past 3 catchers has been a thing, so I see why you went that way, but I think if that were gonna be the case, we would’ve seen a 3rd catcher at least called up for that last series, maybe I’m wrong. I’d go Pache over Arcia for the last bench spot as late OF defense nearly cost us some winnable games.

  2. I like keeping both Smyly and Ynoa for the reasons mentioned and for the possibility that one of the first three might need some long relief backup in an emergency. I also like Pache over Arcia. But that leaves only one infielder on the bench. Not sure they will go with that. I also like Strider over Webb. Also, I absolutely dislike the idea of taking a Mathis type. That’s a waste of a roster spot. If you want a 3rd catcher, he should be extremely strong defensively. To me, only Langeliers fits that bill at catcher and he’s not really an option at this point (Pache fits that bill for the OF and pinch running).

    The roster should be single fault tolerant in my estimation. If there’s an injury, you need a replacement for that game and can replace that spot for the next game. That means you can do without the third catcher or a second bench IF. If that leaves you with an extra slot then I might take Lee over Webb, too, but they are about the same in my book. Pache or Heredia may be better choices over another reliever.

  3. Honestly, I think Mathis is such an offensive black hole that he’s as unplayable as Jonathan Lucroy. I don’t see the Braves going with a single-skill player generally, like Terrance Gore — when it comes to it, the team’s been more willing to use a pitcher as an emergency pinch runner, like Jair Jurrjens or Max Fried, rather than carry a no-hit track star.

    What will we do with Ynoa?

  4. Thanks Ryan for keeping this site rolling. Thanks to the feature contributors and to the comment contributors. You make this a great site for the Braves and “Life It’s Own Self.”

    On Ynoa,

    I am not too sure whether his less effective late season self is more heavily driven by “the scouting caught up” and how much is “the feel in the hand isn’t quite back.” But for now, he looks like an effective 2 to 3 inning pitcher, but not 4 or more innings. Same thing with Smyly. I don’t think Smyly is toast, I just think “starting pitcher 5 plus innings” Smyly is toast.

    I am intrigued by Strider, but if he is carried, he needs to be the strikeout master against righthanders or low leverage, only.

  5. I think we’re already screwing up the rotation, though I guess not as bad as we did in 2019. Fried should be starting Game 1 and Morton Game 2, as I’d rather have Fried come back on three days’ rest than Morton. And yes, I probably wouldn’t be publicizing it right now to everybody, but there is no scenario in which I wouldn’t start Fried on three days’ rest in Game 4. As currently set up, we’re going to do this bullpen game thing in Game 4 and Fried will only pitch once this series. That’s dumb. I’d maybe entertain piggybacking Ynoa and Smyly in one game of the NLCS if we get there, but not in this short five-game series. They should pick whichever they like for the bullpen (probably Ynoa) and leave the other one off.

    And finding a third catcher from the scrap heap for this series is borderline psychotic IMO. It’s always dumb, but it would be especially dumb this year. There’s nobody the slightest bit worthy of the playoff roster in that regard. Use the spot on somebody useful, for God’s sake!

  6. @5, sorry — you absolutely did, I wasn’t so much asking you as asking the existential question. I actually think Chavez is a more likely opener than Smyly (and wrote that in a sentence I decided to delete as it was inconclusive musing). But it’s awfully hard to hold guys in reserve the first three games, as any trouble in Games 1 or 2 could lead to a possible Johnny Wholestaff situation in Game 3, which makes Game 4’s likely bullpen game even tougher to chart. I have always liked Ynoa as a 3-5 inning pitcher. This year, he made significant strides towards being able to throw deeper into the game, and then he stupidly broke his hand and lost a lot of the gains he’d made. In particular, his intermittent lack of feel for the slider or fastball makes him tough to trust in a short outing and ALSO tough to trust in a big game. You kind of have to hand him the ball and hope he finds it, and have a very short leash if he doesn’t.

  7. A bullpen that only scares Braves fans.
    See Ray’s are starting Baz in the second game.
    The Ray’s and the Giants have the best 20 th. through 30th. players in baseball. Built to win in a long season. Unfortunately as the Braves witnessed in the past TOO many times that does not matter in a five or seven game series. In the good old days, the Ray’s and Giants would now be playing. But greed took over. We have two sets of rules and a ridiculous wild card scenario. A joke is what baseball is. And the biggest joke is those who don’t know a damn thing about the game rely solely on numbers. Braves in five.

  8. The top 5 players you didn’t mention on this blog would be Tromp, Langeliers, and Franco. I’d take Tromp over Mathis because he might help us with scouting the Giants’ and even Dodgers’ strategy. I highly doubt Franco will make it, but I won’t count him out based on his postseason experience. Trevor Kelley would be the guy to watch if I’m looking for an arm; you didn’t mention it as well. He might fill in Darren O’Day’s role. Travis Demeritte is another one with power hitting and can play anywhere defensively.

    C – d’Arnaud, Contreras, Tromp
    1B – Freeman
    2B – Albies
    3B – Riley, Adrianza
    SS – Swanson
    OF – Soler, Duvall, Rosario, Pederson, Heredia
    SP – Morton, Fried, Anderson
    PB – Ynoa, Smyly, Chavez
    RP – Smith, Jackson, Matzek, Minter, Martin, Webb, Strider

  9. I only go with a 3rd catcher to free up Contreras or D’Arnaud to PH. It’s sound like logic, especially if AA thinks they’re the 2nd or 3rd best option off the bench. If Joc, d’Arnaud/Contreras, and Adrianza are all PH options, that’s a really solid 3.

  10. I’m not seeing Edgar Santana on anyone’s roster list. He was put on the 10 day IL on Oct 1 with a right intercostal muscle strain. The guy has basically been average with a 3.59 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Over the last 30 games he’s actually done slightly better than that. Will his muscle strain keep him out of the playoffs completely? I’m not really a fan, but it seems like he’s the odd man out and we could do worse.

  11. I also understand that Santana’s muscle strain may have just been a way to call up Strider and /or Lee. He still hasn’t been terrible and the other guys are far from proven.

  12. On the rotation, it should be pointed out that if you were to start Morton on 3 days rest in game 4, then Fried could actually be on full rest for game 5. Worth considering especially if down 2-1.

  13. I think Snitker said he isn’t going to use Chavez as an opener. I think they start Ynoa in Game 4 and he pitches 1 TTO and then they go to Smyly for 1 TTO.

  14. Juan Yepez possibly making his ML debut for the cards after the braves traded him for Matt Adams in 2017. Seems to have discovered his power stroke this year. Best of luck to him, but not the red birds. I mean sure, go cards today, but lose against SF.

  15. @14

    Yeah, they could, but I figure they’re more likely to pitch Fried on three days’ rest than Morton, hence why I’d rather start Fried in Game 1 than Morton. I’m fine if the plan is to pitch Morton on three days’ rest, but I somehow doubt that it is.

    @11

    Or we could have two catchers like normal people and use the backup to pinch hit as we see fit, not hamstringing our roster to account for something that is unlikely to happen.

  16. The way I look at it, if you pinch hit Contreras and then lose d’Arnaud after that, just take your lumps and chalk it up to fate. Planning for that eventuality and making your team worse in almost every other eventuality is bad strategy.

  17. 19 — Yeah, that’s similar to the NFL team’s strategy of carrying 2 Qbs. If your 2 top guys get hurt you’re probably losing anyway.

  18. Just read a crazy stat. Arcia is tied with Prince Fielder for the most homeruns (4) in Brewers post season history. I wonder if this will be a consideration for the last roster spot.

  19. I truly see no sense in RR being on the roster. The thought of him being required to face 3 batters and Snit managing is scary. His FIP the last 30 days is 9.17 and he is giving up over 4 HR/9. Newcomb, Muller, Wright, Webb or an extra offensive player are better options.

    I think Tromp is the only other catcher on the roster. It would make more sense to me to just use Arcia. It’s not like Contreras is a great hitter.

  20. Tromp wasn’t in the organization before September, was he?

    I agree with carrying any of those pitchers before RR.

  21. I would probably carry Arcia instead of Pache because Arcia can also be a late inning outfield defensive replacement in addition to being an infielder. And I have a little more faith in his bat than Pache if we need another pinch hitter.

  22. @22, interesting that the author listed as the three most detestable franchises in baseball the Yankees, Cardinals, and Braves. Wonder what the Braves have done to earn it, other than winning division titles that Mets fans think should rightfully be theirs? If you’re of a certain political bent, I can see not liking the team name, but that doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that Mets fans would object to as much as some other fanbases. Webb hitting Pillar was horrifying, but I don’t think anyone thinks that was intentional. John Rocker’s comments were a long time ago, but I guess Kent Hrbek was longer ago and I’m still not over it. As far as more baseball-related frustrations, two of the three best game-saving 9th-inning outfield catches I can remember came at the expense of the Mets, by Heyward (in CF) and Ender, and maybe walking Andruw to lose the NLCS still stings. Anything else?

  23. Cards legit have 3 guys in tonight’s lineup I’ve never heard of. That probably says more about me than it does them, as I tend to focus my attention mostly just on the Braves. But it also gives more fuel to the whole “devil magic” thing.

  24. Goldschmidt, Arenado, Molina, Wainwright, and… well, yeah. I don’t wish them any success ever at any time for any reason, but it would be awfully sweet for the Dodgers to lose to ’em.

  25. @28: (a) Chipper didn’t name his child Shea because he smelled like urine; (b) the Braves won 11 straight NL East pennants and, more recently, the last 4. In that time the Mets have made the playoffs five times — not a coincidence; (c) the Mets overpaid Tom Glavine, and he still came back to Atlanta, still loved.

  26. If players like Strider were not on the 40 man roster as of September 1 the Braves have to petition mlb to get them added to the playoff roster. It sounds like a formality but I wonder if this is an issue at all.

  27. @29 I’d say that if Tromp or Mathis did not travel with the team then that would mean they are choosing to have two catchers with Langeliers in the wings as an emergency. I’d also think that if Pache is on the taxi squad then Arcia is on the roster. I’d be interested in the full list of who’s travelling with the team. I like that as I’m sure they do not want to put Langeliers on the 40-man yet but are willing to do just that if it means winning a pennant.

    @3 I’m quite sure Mathis is an excellent defender, but like someone else said, his bat is non-existent. Langeliers’ bat has promise and as a newbie may get better pitches to hit on a short series. I would rather not take a third catcher at all and just have one on the taxi squad.

  28. Interesting choice. I certainly wouldn’t have done it, but it’s definitely a Dave Roberts sort of thing to do. The other thing is that he probably wouldn’t have gone more than one additional inning, and even that’s perhaps a stretch.

    End of the day, though, I think Scherzer was more likely to get the outs than Kelly. So why make the change?

  29. I can see why he did it. Max wasn’t his usual dominant self and he didn’t want him to face Arenado for a 3rd time. Interesting decision still.

  30. This game is torture ……and I am missing the reboot of CSI (thank goodness for the DVR). Two teams I detest and no offense. Cards need to score.

  31. If it were the Braves in this game it would be torture. Otherwise this is a great pitching duel.

  32. Out of curiosity, who would the Braves put behind the plate in the event they only carry two catchers and both are out due to injury/pinch hitting?

  33. I think they have an emergency catcher but I don’t know who it is. I doubt that Snitker would use the 2nd catcher except for an emergency in the playoffs.

  34. Why in tarnation do they need to start a playoff baseball game at 9:37 EST? Is there one bloody person on earth that’s watching 3-4 playoff games all in one day to where they need to be spaced out?

    I get it when a west coast game has to start at 10PM EST. I don’t believe in science, logic, time zones, or the circular earth conspiracy theory, but I do respect that some other people believe it and therefore we have to keep up appearances. But this makes no sense.

  35. But in all seriousness, and in a complete change of the subject, I’d like to give my hearty recommendation for No Time To Die, the newest James Bond movie. It’s not my favorite, but it’s easily in the top 5 of the series. Do your best to avoid spoilers as the ending is very different from other Bond movies, and it’s best to enjoy the movie understanding that the Daniel Craig era functions as its own arc. But the action sequences are great, and it actually has great writing and drama, which of course is rare for a Bond movie.

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