The Atlanta Braves were shut down by the New York Mets ace starter on Wednesday night, but losing to their #4 had some worried about how the team could handle playoff pitching.
The Atlanta Braves are preparing for the National League playoffs at this point, heading into their final weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Some fans have worries about the Braves ability with top pitchers, however, specifically the type of pitchers that usually populate a postseason rotation.
Though it took an incredible performance from Jacob deGrom in order to salvage even one victory over the Atlanta Braves on his season in six starts, deGrom had dominated the Braves on the stat sheet on the season, posting an incredible 0.88 ERA and 0.78 WHIP over 41 innings against the Atlanta Braves on the season with 50 strikeouts, but just Wednesday night’s victory on the win tally for the season.
To see how the Braves have performed against the best arms in the league, I took the top 10 pitchers in each of the American and National Leagues for 2018 in each of bWAR, fWAR, and WARP. That gave 27 pitchers that appeared on at least one of those top 10 lists, 14 of whom faced the Braves this year. Adding in some of the considered elite arms in the game who didn’t make those ranks only added Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg to the list of top pitchers the Braves faced. So against those 16 elite pitchers in 2018, how have the Atlanta Braves fared?
Overall Braves W/L: 24-14
Opponent starter W/L: 13-16 (Braves have won 16 decisions over these “aces”)
IP: 219 2/3
To put it lightly, the Atlanta Braves have done very well against top pitchers overall. In fact, the only “ace” the Braves did not collect a home run against as a team is Clayton Kershaw.
That brings up an interesting point. Of the list, there is not a single member of the Dodgers, Cubs, or Brewers in that list. The Colorado Rockies do have two pitchers, Kyle Freeland and German Marquez, on the list, but the Braves have put up 13 runs in 23 and 2/3 innings against those two this season.
If they get past the NL, then what?
For the Braves, running the gauntlet of the National League would likely not lead to a lot more depth of elite starters down the road outside of one team. Houston has two starters that made all three lists (and one that made one). Boston has just Chris Sale on all three (though David Price also was on one).
The team with the loaded rotation in this view is the Cleveland Indians, who placed three pitchers on all three lists, one on two lists, and another in the top 20 on Fangraphs. The rotation has needed to be good as the Indians bullpen is rough, to say the least.
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Losing a pair to the Mets doesn’t feel great, but for Atlanta Braves fans, it’s good to remember that the Braves are in good shape to keep playing much beyond this weekend, especially if their performance against top pitchers is any indication.