Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, MLB Postseason

Braves’ pitching staff is shutting out everybody in October

Good defense and great pitching may win the 2020 Atlanta Braves a World Series.

The Atlanta Braves‘ pitching staff just did something that hasn’t happened in the MLB postseason since 1966. Atlanta becomes the third team in postseason history to shut out their opponents in three of their first four postseason games. The only other teams to do this are the 1905 New York Giants and the 1966 Baltimore Orioles. Both of those teams went on to win the World Series.

The Braves are now the most complete team in all of baseball.

Atlanta takes a commanding 2-0 series lead over the division rival Miami Marlins in their best-of-five NLDS in Houston. The Marlins are 7-0 all time in postseason series to date, but are now on the brink of elimination. Atlanta advanced for the first time in the postseason since 2001 by not allowing a single run at home vs. the Cincinnati Reds in their best-of-three NL Wild Card series.

In Wednesday afternoon’s 2-0 shutout of the Fish, Braves starter Ian Anderson went 5.2 innings, allowing three hits, walking one and striking out eight. Anderson started the NL Wild Card series clincher over the Reds last week. He has not allowed a run in 11.2 innings, allowing five hits, waling three and striking out a ridiculous 17 batters. His change-up is borderline unhittable.

Though the bullpen and defense have been solid throughout their first four postseason games, it’s been remarkable how well the Braves’ starting rotation has been. This was the team’s glaring weakness all year long, and especially heading into October. While Anderson pitched fantastically in both of his starts, Max Fried wasn’t as good in Game 1 vs. the Fish as he was against the Reds.

In a game where Ronald Acuña Jr. struck out four times, Atlanta did enough at the plate to win the game. A pair of solo shots by shortstop Dansby Swanson and catcher Travis d’Arnaud have the Braves on the verge of reaching their first NLCS since 2001. The last time the Braves won four straight postseason games was in 1999. Interestingly, that’s the last time they won the pennant.

If Atlanta wins one of its next three ballgames vs. Miami, the Braves will face the winner of the other NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. Though most people expect Atlanta to lose to Los Angeles in the 2020 NLCS, all the pressure in the world is off the Braves’ shoulders, so long as they get one more victory over the Fish and not lose three in a row.

With championship aspirations on their mind, getting to the NLCS isn’t good enough for this Braves team. They have the talent, and apparently the mental makeup now, to win it all. Keep in mind the last time baseball didn’t play a full 162-game season Atlanta won the Fall Classic. Being compared to two World Series champions like the 1905 Giants and the 1966 Orioles bodes well.

The last two times the Braves had a player win NL MVP (1999, 1991), they went to the World Series. Freddie Freeman is expected to join Chipper Jones (1999), Terry Pendleton (1991) and Dale Murphy (1981-82) as the fourth Brave to win NL MVP since the team relocated from Milwaukee to Atlanta. Things are starting to look up for this long-suffering fanbase in 2020.

Good pitching will always beat great hitting, and it seems the 2020 Braves finally have that now.

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