As both National League Divisional Series are set to get underway on Tuesday, one series features a matchup of NL East teams as the Miami Marlins will be taking on the Atlanta Braves. The Marlins come into this one having swept the favored Chicago Cubs in two games during the Wild Card series.
The Braves took out the Cincinnati Reds, also in two games, holding them scoreless in both contests. With the two ready to square off, here is a closer look at the upcoming series.
Trying to maintain a “bubble” atmosphere, the series will be held at the neutral venue of Minute Maid Park in Houston. The schedule will be as follows:
- Game 1: Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2:08 p.m. ET, FS1
- Game 2: Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2:08 p.m. ET, MLB Network
- Game 3: Thursday, Oct. 8, 2:08 p.m. ET, FS1
- Game 4 (if necessary): Friday, Oct. 9, 2:08 p.m. ET, FS1
- Game 5 (if necessary): Saturday, Oct. 10, 4:08 p.m. ET, FS1
2020 Regular-Season Records
- Miami Marlins: 31-29
- Atlanta Braves: 35-25
Since both play in the NL East, these two teams battled 10 times throughout the regular season. In those matchups, the Braves won six times.
Miami Marlins 2020 Stats
Offensively, the Marlins struggled this season, ranking 20th in the majors with just 4.35 runs per game. Third baseman Brian Anderson led the way, hitting .255/.345/.465 with a team-leading 11 home runs and 38 RBI. The Marlins’ offense did take a bit of a hit, though, as outfielder Starling Marte broke his pinkie finger after getting hit by a pitch. While he’s available to pinch run, it remains very questionable if he can do much else in this upcoming series.
While they were able to get timely hitting when needed, the Marlins’ pitching staff was extremely impressive as they stymied the Cubs over two games. It is somewhat surprising, given they ranked 20th in the majors this season in ERA at 4.71, but Sandy Alcantara and Sixto Sanchez were brilliant. As a whole, the Miami pitching staff went 18 innings, allowing one run on nine hits with five walks and 16 strikeouts. They will need to keep pitching that well to keep the Braves’ bats quiet.
While their pitching staff as a whole was inconsistent this season, the Marlins do have some quality arms in their bullpen. Closer Brandon Kintzler converted 12 of 14 save opportunities with a 2.22 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. Throw in Yimi Garcia (0.60 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 19 strikeouts in 15 innings), Brad Boxberger (3.00 ERA, 1.39 WHIP), James Hoyt (1.23 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 20 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings), and Richard Bleier (2.63 ERA, 1.24 WHIP), and the Marlins have some arms that can help shorten a game.
Atlanta Braves 2020 Stats
Even though the Braves were only able to put up six runs in two games against the Reds in the Wild Card series, the offense is certainly capable of putting up a crooked number. This season, Atlanta ranked second overall in scoring, averaging 5.71 runs per game. Leading the way during the regular season were first baseman Freddie Freeman (.341/.462/.640 with 13 home runs, 53 RBI, 51 runs) and Marcell Ozuna (.338/.431/.636 with 18 home runs, 56 RBI and 38 runs). The Braves also have Ronald Acuna Jr., Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies and others in their lineup, so it is no wonder why they can score in bunches.
Including an extra-inning affair in Game 1, the pitching staff threw a total of 22 innings of shutout baseball and blanked the Reds’ offense for the series. Max Fried (seven innings, six hits, five strikeouts) and Ian Anderson (six innings, two hits, nine strikeouts) were dominant in their starts, and the bullpen was equally as impressive. While the pitching will be a little more tested with the best-of-five format, it was a good start to the postseason for a pitching staff that entered with a lot of question marks.
One interesting variable for the Braves in this one will be the venue, as they will not have the comfort of Truist Field to play at after going 21-11 (including the first round) at the venue this season. Away from Truist Field, Atlanta was just 16-14. Furthermore, the Marlins are a team that has played better on the road this season (22-14 away from home), so while this is a neutral site, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in this series.
- Game 1: Sandy Alcantara vs Max Fried
- Game 2: Pablo Lopez vs Ian Anderson
- Game 3: Kyle Wright vs Sixto Sanchez
- Game 4: TBD vs TBD
- Game 5: TBD vs TBD
The Atlanta Braves are the clear favorites in this divisional series, as their moneyline sits at -300 compared to the Marlins at +220.
In terms of winning the World Series, the Braves are +635 to win it all, while the Marlins have the longest odds in baseball, currently at +1200.
Divisional Series Pick
I give a lot of credit to the Marlins because they have defied the odds this season. Not only were they expected to be one of the worst teams in baseball during the preseason, but they also battled COVID-19 issues from the onset.
But, while they have been grinding all season long, I see that grind ending here. The Braves’ offense is dynamic, and they have enough pitching to take care of a Marlins offense that lacks potency. Take the Braves to win the series and move onto the NLCS.