The Braves have formally announced their 28-man roster for their upcoming Wild Card Series against the Reds — a roster that includes some notable omissions of former key players and includes a few intriguing rookies. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Ian Anderson (Game 2 starter)
- Shane Greene
- Chris Martin
- Mark Melancon
- Darren O’Day
- Josh Tomlin
- Jacob Webb
- Kyle Wright (Game 3 starter)
- Ozzie Albies
- Johan Camargo
- Charlie Culberson
- Freddie Freeman
- Austin Riley
- Pablo Sandoval
- Dansby Swanson
Longtime center fielder Ender Inciarte is the most notable player left off the roster. An All-Star in 2017 and a three-time Gold Glover, Inciarte’s bat has continued to wilt in recent seasons — culminating in a disastrous .190/.262/.250 slash through 131 plate appearances in 2020. With Ronald Acuna Jr. capable of handling center field and options like Marcell Ozuna, Nick Markakis and the hot-hitting Adam Duvall in the corners, the Braves have begun to cut back on Inciarte’s playing time.
While he could still have been carried as a game-changing defensive upgrade for the late innings, that role will instead go to the 21-year-old Pache — the organization’s top prospect who draws 80 grades for his defense on most scouting reports. It’s been increasingly clear that Inciarte’s role with the club is dwindling, but leaving him off the playoff roster only further highlights that reality.
Also absent from the club’s Round 1 roster is righty Luke Jackson. The mercurial reliever was outrighted in June 2018 only to surprisingly emerge as one of the club’s few reliable bullpen options in 2019 when he nailed down 18 saves. The pendulum has swung back in the other direction in 2020 though, as Jackson has been clobbered for a 6.84 ERA and seen his K/9 mark nearly halved (13.1 K/9 in 2019; 6.8 in 2020). Had the groin injury that forced righty Chris Martin from the Braves’ season finale proven more serious, perhaps Jackson would have been considered, but Braves fans are surely thrilled to see Martin’s name listed after his dominant 2020 effort.
Elsewhere, Atlanta will entrust its Game 2 outing to former No. 3 overall draft pick Ian Anderson, who rose from top prospect status to key rotation piece in 2020. Anderson still has just six big league starts, but he’s exceeded all expectations with a 1.95 ERA and 41 punchouts through 32 1/3 frames. Catching prospect William Contreras, the younger brother of Cubs star Willson Contreras, is on the roster mostly as a depth option, but his presence only further gives a glimpse into the organization’s future.
The Braves’ late pickup of Pablo Sandoval came as a surprise to many, but the organization clearly sees something in the former Giants star. Despite a dismal .214/.287/.262 slash on the year, including four hitless plate appearances with Atlanta (two walks), the Panda makes the Wild Card roster as a bench piece.