OCTOBER 5: As expected, the Braves announced that Fried will get the ball in Game 1, with Anderson and Wright tabbed for Games 2 and 3, respectively (via David O’Brien of the Athletic). Manager Brian Snitker suggested the club could carry fifteen pitchers on their NLDS roster (relays O’Brien). Atlanta only activated thirteen pitchers for their shorter first-round series against the Reds.
OCTOBER 4: The Braves will consider a bullpen game at some point during their NLDS series against the Marlins, per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. That’s a lot to put on a bullpen in a 5-game series that takes place over 5 days, but the Braves and manager Brian Snitker may not have a better option available to them.
Max Fried figures to get the start in game one, with Snitker announcing the move in all but name: “I think you want your best going in Game 1,” said Snitker, per Bowman. Fried could return on short rest to start a potential win-or-go-home game five. Said Snitker, “…I definitely think that is a possibility. We just need to see how that first game goes and the subsequent games as well.” Snitker remained coy about officially naming Fried as the game one starter, but only an injury would derail a game one start from Fried at this point, and it seems their ace lefty is finally healthy for the first time in that past month.
Beyond Fried, rookie standout Ian Anderson should line up for game two and Kyle Wright for game three. Again, Snitker would make nothing official, but the Braves don’t have a lot of options given the injuries that befell their rotation during the season.
Game four is where things get interesting for the Braves, as they don’t have a clear option lined up to start this game – hence the possibility of a bullpen game. Josh Tomlin was on the Wild Card roster, and he could function as a key swingman after making 5 starts during the regular season. Tomlin covered 39 2/3 innings across 17 total appearances during the regular season with a 4.76 ERA/4.02 FIP and 8.17 K/9 to 1.82 BB/9.
Atlanta went with a 10-man bullpen for the wild card series, with Tomlin as the only true long man. If they should so choose, the Braves have a number of options elsewhere in the system with experience eating innings. Huascar Ynoa, Bryse Wilson, Touki Toussaint, and Sean Newcomb could conceivably be added to their pitching pool as options to start or eat innings in a potential game four. That said, 10 guys in the pen should be enough even with a bullpen game, and the Braves already expect to lean heavily on Mark Melancon and Shane Greene – each of whom could theoretically pitch in as many as four of the five games, if it goes the distance.