That’s where adding McCann, Josh Donaldson and Dallas Keuchel came in. The Braves needed more players who’ve had signature October moments, who’ve paced themselves for the playoffs and dueled in stressful postseason environments.
In McCann’s case especially, the Braves saw tremendous value in adding him as a clubhouse sage of sorts. They had strong veteran leaders in Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis and Tyler Flowers, but bringing in McCann - and now Keuchel - was plugging recent champions into the mix.
“(McCann) been there, done that,” Snitker said. “(They don’t know) this fight that they’re in. They got a taste of it last year, how hard it was to get there and how hard it is to advance. How strong you have to be to advance in the playoffs. That was the difference between us and the Dodgers. They were stronger than us. No doubt about that. But we’ve gotten stronger. We’re stronger this year than we were last year. … Having guys like Brian McCann, Dallas Keuchel, they’re going to make us stronger. We bring up the Austin Rileys, they’re all things that make us a better club.”
Snitker lauded Keuchel, who made what’s expected to make his final preparation start Saturday for Double-A Mississippi before joining the big-league club. Keuchel, a one-time Cy Young winner who’s coming off a 200-inning season, can share his methodology with Soroka, Fried and the team’s bevy of young starters, Snitker expects.
“Having a guy like Dallas Keuchel here who’s been there, done that, been successful, knows the routine and has a routine that he can share with those guys, probably some stuff to help them,” he said. “He’ll be huge once we get him in the mix. He’ll be really good for us.”
Overall, the Braves feel they’re improved from last season not only because of external additions and internal growth, but because the clubhouse is collectively wiser. The Braves are waiting for their experience to catch up with their talent, and whenever it does, their window of title contention will truly open.