The National League begins their divisional series Tuesday afternoon as it will be clash of NL East foes in the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves.
28 seasons as a franchise and the Marlins have yet to be eliminated from the postseason. The trend continued last Friday as the ball club walked into Wrigley Field and completed a sweep of the Chicago Cubs. Led by stellar pitching from starters Sixto Sanchez and Sandy Alcantara, plus a shutdown bullpen that includes Brandon Kintzler and Yimi Garcia, Miami was able to score clutch runs off the bats of Corey Dickerson and Jesus Aguilar. While nothing jumps off the radar for the Marlins, manager Don Mattingly has done a fantastic job of keeping his team poised and providing the confidence they need to excel when it matters.
The job is simple for the Braves — hit. Aside from Ronald Acuna Jr., the Braves struggled to get on base as they were shutdown by the Cincinnati Reds starters. However, Cincinnati failed to score any runs in the series, allowing Atlanta to reach the NLDS for a third-straight year.
Atlanta’s strength has been their hitting this season but it was the young and inexperienced starters leading the path to the NLDS. Max Fried and Ian Anderson were a starting tandem not to be messed with as they went a combined 13 innings — only allowing eight hits and two walks while striking out 14 batters. The bullpen, led by Mark Melancon, Will Smith and Chris Martin, pitched a combined eight innings of scoreless baseball.
Even though the pitching was stellar, the high-octane offense will need to show up in this series. The spark will have to come from consistent veteran Freddie Freeman.
This was not a series many expected. It’s a series that perfectly encapsulates 2020 as to the craziness it took to get here, especially for the Marlins if you paid attention to them early in the season. History will be made this week though as the Braves will become the first team to ever eliminate Miami from the playoffs thanks to fantastic pitching from their youngsters and a bullpen that will hold a small lead if that is what it comes down to.
Prediction: Braves in 4