» Snitker has said throughout the season that last season's NLDS appearance was immensely valuable for his young club. The Braves have carried themselves with more confidence – as any team winning 97 games would – and enter the series expecting to advance rather than being satisfied with a postseason berth.
“I just think they're, starting in spring training, they're a more confident group,” Snitker said. “When you go through what they went through last year and to have this success that some of them did that -- it's a really a great steppingstone for them in their career. And they never -- I don't think any of these guys ever feel like that they're a finished product. And if you watch them work and you watch them go about it on a daily basis, I think you'd see why, that they all feel like they can get better, improve and become a better ballplayer than what they are now.
“I think they know and I want them -- two things, (to) know how hard they had to work to get it last year; and the second thing was how good they felt when they did accomplish what they wanted to last year, which was winning the division. And to a man, I think all of those guys put that, the experience they had to the perfect use this year in preparing for what they went through this year.”
» To some, the decision to pair Game 1 starter Dallas Keuchel with Brian McCann instead of Tyler Flowers may have been a surprise. Despite Keuchel's history with McCann in Houston, he'd pitched masterfully with Flowers behind the plate.
Keuchel with Flowers: 2.93 ERA, 59 strikeouts and 25 walks in 11 starts (61-1/3 innings).
Keuchel with McCann: 4.73 ERA, 32 strikeouts and 14 walks in nine starts (51-1/3 innings).
Now, his stats with Flowers could be superseded by his past with McCann. Keuchel and McCann won the 2017 World Series together with the Astros, and pairing them for a pivotal Game 1 here is a logical choice. As Snitker explained, that was the deciding factor.
“He and Mac have been through this before,” Snitker said. “That wasn't intentional (that he worked with Flowers so often). I told both those guys, it kind of happened. Mac, I think it was when he went through his (injured list) spot, and it just worked and it kind of happened to line up right. I talked to Dallas about it at length, and he's good with either of them, loves both of them.”