No-BS Division Series Preview
OK, we had so much fun with the no-BS wild-card round preview that we’re going to go ahead and do it for the Division Series next. We don’t have to call it the no-BS Preview, though. We could call it the “Anti-A-Rod Series Preview.” Yikes, does Alex Rodriguez pump his broadcasts with complete nonsense — bizarre calls for bunts, incredibly confident conjecture about what people are thinking, full-blown predictions based on the tiniest sample sizes, etc.
Anyway, we try our best to avoid all of that here as we preview the five-game division series. Here we go!
Philadelphia vs. Atlanta
Announcers: Joe Davis, John Smoltz and Ken Rosenthal
(All Times Eastern)
Game 1: at Atlanta, Tuesday, 1:07 p.m. (Fox)
Game 2: at Atlanta, Wednesday, 4:35 p.m. (Fox)
Game 3: at Philadelphia, Friday, TBD, FS1
Game 4*: at Philadelphia, Saturday, TBD, FS1
Game 5*: at Atlanta, Sunday, TBD, FS1
The Braves are good at locking up their young players, aren’t they? This week, they signed brilliant rookie pitcher Spencer Strider to a six-year deal. Strider went 11-5 with a 153 ERA+ and a ridiculous 202 strikeouts in 131 innings … and he STILL is not going to win the Rookie of the Year award because that certainly will go to his teammate Michael Harris, who hit .297, slugged .524, hit 19 homers, stole 20 bases and played brilliant defense in centerfield.
The Braves have already locked up Michael Harris with an eight-year deal.
This is after they locked up Ronald Acuña through 2028 at an absurdly happy price for the club (he tops out at $17 million per year). Austin Riley is signed through 2033 (he tops out at $22 million). Matt Olson is signed through 2030 if they want him that long. Ozzie Albies is going to make $7 million per year through 2027. I do not blame players one bit for getting their guaranteed money if that’s what makes them happy and comfortable, but, wow, are the Braves getting some sweet discounts on some of the best young players in the game.
This is the no-BS baseball preview (NBBP), so we’re not going to mention that Atlanta went 11-8 against the Phillies this year, played .679 baseball at home or that they finished second in the National League in both runs scored and runs allowed. None of that will play any role in this series. We will point out that this is super-deep Braves lineup with seven or eight dangerous hitters every night and that if Strider is healthy enough to pitch — an oblique injury ended his regular season a couple of weeks early — the Braves’ 1-2-3 pitching rotation of Max Fried, Kyle Wright and Strider is good enough to shut down any team in baseball.
The Phillies are a lot of fun, but they do come into this series with their rotation out of whack because of the wild-card round. They’re starting Ranger Suarez in Game 1, which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it isn’t ideal in a best-of-five series where the winner of Game 1 will take the series most of the time. What does “most of the time” mean? Well, our buddy Tom Tango explains that if the two teams are exactly equal, and you don’t want consider all the complicating factors, the team that wins Game 1 will win the series 69% of the time.
Considering that Atlanta is probably quite a bit better than Philadelphia, should the Braves win Game 1 those chances would go up quite a bit.
However, because this is the NBBP, we must concede that Suarez might just throw seven shutout innings. None of us know.
The Braves do get back on their regular rotation Wednesday with the electric Zack Wheeler on the mound. Obviously, if they stole Game 1, they’d feel pretty good about themselves.
The Phillies hit just .158 in their two-game sweep of St. Louis with one home run (Bryce Harper!), which doesn’t tell us anything about this upcoming series but does reflect the sort of baseball we are seeing this October. Batters, mostly, are looking overmatched. If that continues, I do believe it gives the underdogs a better chance at pulling upsets. The Phillies in my mind are not, over a long stretch, as good as the Braves (or the Cardinals, for that matter), but in a 3-2 game, a 2-1 game, a 1-0 game, they have as good a shot as anybody.
OK, time for a bonus! Here’s the great Ellen Adair offering an actual Phillies fan preview with actual facts in it. Everybody should have a friend like Ellen: