Braves NLDS notebook: On rotation, Swanson, mentality

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1995: N.L. East champs defeated the wild-card Rockies in 4 games Braves won their only World Series in Atlanta over the Cleveland Indians 1996: Atlanta swept the Dodgers to advance to the Championship Series The Braves reached the World Series, losing to the Yankees in 6 games 1997: Atlanta, winners of 101 regular season games, swept the Astros Atlanta lost to the Florida Marlins in 6 games in NLCS 1998: Braves won their only game of season at Wrigley Field in sweep of Chicago Cubs The Padres defeated the

The Braves worked out Wednesday evening at Dodger Stadium, their final preparation before the National League Division Series opens Thursday.

A consensus underdog, the inexperienced Braves must take three of five games to advance past the defending NL champions. The teams last met in the 2013 postseason, the Braves’ most recent appearance, with the Dodgers winning in four.

“I think we match up well against anybody as long as we're playing baseball the way we're capable of playing,” outfielder Nick Markakis said. “We got speed. We got defense. We got pitching. Bullpen has been great. And our hitting. We can go up there and swing the bats, sparked by the top of our lineup with those young guys up there, which is good to see. We do our thing and go out there. It shouldn't matter who's on the field. We just gotta stay confident in ourselves and play baseball.”

Several notables from the night:

-Manager Brian Snitker declared Anibal Sanchez the game 2 starter. Mike Foltynewicz gets the ball Thursday. The team didn’t name a game 3 or 4 starter yet, wanting first to determine the flow of the series. But the prevailing thought is Kevin Gausman will start game 3, and in the event of an elimination game, Foltynewicz could return in game 4.

“Anibal has been pitching really good for us, as has Folty,” Snitker said. “It's just kind of a natural fit right there and want him out there, in case we have to bring him back.”

The Dodgers will start Hyun-Jin Ryu in game 1, followed by future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. Their budding rookie Walker Buehler gets game 3. The team will assess it from there, but Rich Hill is the favorite to start game 4.

-Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson will miss the NLDS with a partially torn ligament in his left hand. The team was optimistic he could make his way back in time, but he wasn’t to the point he could comfortable swing.

“That’s a tough loss because of what he brings to this team and what he’s done,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “I feel bad for us but as much for him because he lives for this. He’s all about winning. He prepares, he works, he studies, he cares. If you asked him at the time he got drafted, this is what it was all about for him.”

-The Dodgers have a significant experience advantage over the Braves. Snitker acknowledged such matters in these moments, but he delivered a message to his team that it’s still the same game they’ve (successfully) played for the last half year.

"I just don't want them to do anything different than what they've done, because what they've done is good enough, you know, just to play with that emotion and aggression and the energy that they've been doing," he said. "And I've been here in playoff scenarios before, and there's not going to be any shortage of those guys getting amped up and being ready to go. Just let it fly.
"I mean they've been doing that all year. They've had a really good time playing baseball. It's a really neat group for me to be around in that respect, how they like to work and they prepare very well. And then when they go out, just to let it fly and not be careful."

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