Braves plan on bullpen game for NLCS Game 4

Braves manager Brian Snitker prepares his team to play the Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLCS Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Los Angeles. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Caption
Braves manager Brian Snitker prepares his team to play the Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLCS Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Los Angeles. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

LOS ANGELES — The Braves still plan to use a bullpen game in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers, manager Brian Snitker said before Game 3 on Tuesday.

“We’ll evaluate after the day today to see how we’re going to go about that,” Snitker said. The Braves led the NLCS 2-0 before the series shifted to Dodger Stadium for Games 3, 4 and (potentially) 5.

The Braves have several relievers capable of covering bulk innings. Huascar Ynoa would be a candidate to start Game 4. Lefty Drew Smyly and veteran righty Jesse Chavez also can cover multiple innings.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said southpaw Julio Urias is expected to start Game 4. Urias appeared in Game 2, surrendering two runs in the Braves’ rally.

Braves notes:

- Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman’s struggles were a subplot of the first two games. Freeman was 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts. He doesn’t have a hit since his game-winning homer in Game 4 of the NL Division Series against the Brewers.

“We forget that he’s two games away from getting us in this, putting us in this position, and these guys have been through this before,” Snitker said. “It’s magnified now. They care. That’s the biggest thing. These guys care, and they want to do good, and you have a tendency in this game to get in your own way a little bit. That’s the hardest part of this business is just showing up the next day and fighting through things.

“But we had a day off yesterday. He could clear his mind. I have every confidence that he’s going to come out today and put everything behind him.”

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (left) and teammates loosen up in Dodger Stadium while preparing for Game 3 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Los Angeles. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Caption
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (left) and teammates loosen up in Dodger Stadium while preparing for Game 3 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Los Angeles. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

- The Braves have lost 10 of their past 11 games at Dodger Stadium, including getting swept in a three-game series in Los Angeles in late August-early September.

“We lost three games here this year that we were in all three of them, we were a pitch away, a hit away,” Snitker said. “I don’t know. I mean, they’re really tough here. I know that. But it’s just kind of been coincidence, I guess, how the games have went. But I really can’t put my finger on any one thing because we did some really good things in that time, just couldn’t finish a game off.”

- The Braves were 1-12 in games tied after eight innings in the regular season, yet they’ve won two such contests in the NLCS. They’re 4-for-7 and have scored two runs in the ninth inning during this series. In the 13 games tied entering the ninth in the regular season, the Braves were just 4-for-59 with one run scored.

- Luke Jackson has appeared in each of the Braves’ six postseason games, pitching 4-2/3 scoreless innings. Lefty Tyler Matzek likewise hasn’t allowed a run in his postseason work. The Jackson-Matzek duo has been one of the strongest bullpen combinations in the majors throughout the season, and their performance hasn’t dropped off in October.

- Braves outfielder Guillermo Heredia explained the origin of the swords he carries in the dugout. He discovered them from someone he follows on Instagram.

“It was just something I found on social media,” Heredia said via team interpreter Franco Garcia. “I saw some guy basically having similar swords and doing a similar thing. But as far as how we apply it to the team, I just figured it could be a source of good motivation for the guys. I think you always need some type of celebration and something to just kind of keep the morale up and keep the motivation going, so I figured I would just take these out to the dugout.”

Braves outfielder Guillermo Heredia (left) runs onto field holding a pair of pink swords as teammates celebrate Eddie Rosario after Rosario brought in the game-winning run a single in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the NLCS Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at Truist Park in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Caption
Braves outfielder Guillermo Heredia (left) runs onto field holding a pair of pink swords as teammates celebrate Eddie Rosario after Rosario brought in the game-winning run a single in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the NLCS Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at Truist Park in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Heredia continued: “I’m not going to lie, for a while I went to a lot of stores and a lot of places and I couldn’t find the swords anywhere, so a big shout-out to our clubhouse manager, Calvin (Minasian), who went online, found me the swords, ordered them, and I was able to get them. The first day I took them out to the field, a lot of guys were laughing and everyone was sort of asking, ‘What’s with the swords?’ And I just told them, ‘Hey, this is part of our celebration now, so kind of get used to it.’

“But for me more it’s just a way to continue to participate and contribute to the team. Just because I’m not playing, I’m not physically out there on the field, I find this is way to just kind of just show the team support within my role.”

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