NLDS notebook: Braves try to stay perfect this postseason

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Braves manager Brian Snitker discusses the team's focus with the chance to sweep the Marlins in NLDS.

Credit: Atlanta Braves

HOUSTON - The Braves need one more win to eliminate the Marlins and advance past the National League Division Series for the first time in 19 years.

Kyle Wright starts the potential clincher Thursday afternoon against Miami’s Sixto Sanchez. It’s a meeting of two of the NL East’s most promising young right-handers.

Should the Braves advance, they would go to Arlington, Texas, for the best-of-seven NL Championship Series against either the Dodgers or Padres. The Dodgers lead the Padres 2-0 in their NLDS, which is being held in Arlington. The Braves and Dodgers are the only two teams entering Thursday without a loss this postseason.

The Braves are trying for their first three-game postseason sweep since 2001, when they swept the Astros in the NLDS. The win was their most recent postseason series victory until they upended the Reds last week.

From 1995-98, the Braves had one series sweep in each postseason: The Reds in 1995 (4-0), the Dodgers in 1996 (3-0), the Astros in 1997 (3-0) and the Cubs in 1998 (3-0). Those four, along with the 2001 sweep, were all the Braves' postseason sweeps during their unprecedented run of 14 consecutive division titles (1991-2005).

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Braves catcher Tyler Flowers discusses what it's like to have family inside the MLB bubble during the postseason.

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Notes from Thursday:

- All that written, you won’t catch these Braves looking ahead at sweeps or the NLCS.

“This group is really good at staying in the moment and focusing on the matter at hand,” manager Brian Snitker said. “They’re content with playing today’s game. They come in and compartmentalize everything and keep the focus on today. It’s the one thing we can control. I think we just have to stay focused on today.”

- If the Braves lose Game 3, they’ll have to turn to the most uncertain part of their team: the back end of the rotation. They haven’t announced who would start Friday in Game 4. Huascar Ynoa and Bryse Wilson are the logical candidates.

“We have a plan in mind, but we’ll have to wait and see how we get through today,” Snitker said.

- Snitker indicated “a couple” of the Braves' relievers may be unavailable for Game 3. Darren O’Day, Tyler Matzek, Will Smith and Mark Melancon have pitched in the first two games. Depending on how the game unfolds, perhaps Snitker still turns to one of them for the third consecutive day, but the Braves have ample bullpen depth if they decide to give those pitchers a break.

The Braves' bullpen has been almost perfect this postseason. The group has a 0.52 ERA – one earned run in 17-1/3 innings – in four games. The Braves are now 29-0 when leading after six innings this season (2-0 in postseason).

- Sanchez held the Braves to three hits over six scoreless innings in their first meeting, which the Marlins won 8-0. The Braves got the better of Sanchez in the rematch, tagging him for four runs and chasing him after three innings in a win Sept. 23.

“This kid has an unbelievable arm,” Snitker said of Sanchez. “Man, it’s something else. As you see guys, you get more familiar with them. It’s going to be a tough ride today again, the third day in a row. These guys throw unbelievable starting pitching at you. This is our fifth game of the postseason, and we’ve faced five upper-echelon starters in every game. It’ll be tough, but our guys are good. They do their studying, they have their approach, and hopefully we come out on top.”

- The Braves set their expected lineup against Sanchez:

CF Ronald Acuna

1B Freddie Freeman

DH Marcell Ozuna

C Travis d’Arnaud

2B Ozzie Albies

SS Dansby Swanson

LF Adam Duvall

RF Nick Markakis

3B Austin Riley