Doubt: They’re the Braves. They always blow it in October.
Faith: You’re working with outdated information. Did the Braves go 19 years and nine playoff appearances without winning a playoff series or even a play-in game? Yes. But they’re 5-2 in postseason series since 2019. These Braves are not those Braves.
Doubt: Since Sept. 2, the Braves are 11-11. Brian Snitker should have done something different.
Faith: Like what? Rested his starters? Wouldn’t that have yielded more losses? The Braves will have five off-days before Game 1 of the LDS. Where’s the line between rest and rust? And hasn’t Snitker earned the benefit of all doubts? Only one manager whose team figures to make the playoffs has won the World Series more than Snitker, and Bruce Bochy, now of Texas, has presided over two winning postseason games since 2014.
Doubt: The postseason favorite never wins.
Faith: Often it doesn’t. Sometimes it does. The team with the best record has won it all three times since 2015. That’s not never.
Doubt: The Braves have given up a ton of runs – their ERA for the month is 5.64 – in September.
Faith: You got me there. But September isn’t October. Some of these pitchers won’t be on the postseason roster. Some of these pitchers need to pitch better.
Doubt: No other team will be under the same pressure.
Faith: True, as far as it goes. Except: Do the Braves ever look pressured? They’ve won six consecutive division titles. They’ve gone from winning the World Series in 2021 to improving by 13 wins in 2022, and they’d have to lose out not to top 101 wins this time. They move from strength to strength. They’re amazing that way.
Doubt: “Amazing,” huh? How amazing will it be if they lose to Philly yet again?
Faith: They won’t lose to Philly.
Doubt: You’re sure? How’d that ‘27 Yankees comparison work out for you back in 1996?
Faith: Not so well. But that was then. And Jim Leyritz will turn 60 in December.
Doubt: Didn’t the Braves blow a 6-0 lead in the Leyritz game?
Faith: They did, but we return to last night. The 2023 Braves trailed the Cubs, who needed to win much more, by the same score. Justin Steele, who might win the Cy Young, took a shutout into the sixth inning. Kevin Pillar hit a home run. The Cubs’ right fielder muffed a catch. Raisel Iglesias struck out Dansby Swanson. The Braves won 7-6. It was their biggest comeback since April 20, 2019.
Doubt: That’s great. But you said it yourself: September isn’t October.
Faith: Yeah, but here’s my closing argument. The Braves won the 2021 World Series without Ronald Acuna. How much easier will it be to win with Ronald Acuna?
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