EDIT: The Dodgers will now start Cy Young favorite Clayton Kershaw on the mound for Game 4. On one hand, this is the worst-case scenario for Atlanta, as they now face the best pitcher on the planet, but on the other, it will be the first time in Kershaw’s career that he will take the ball on short rest. It’s time to pray.
Date: October 7, 2013
First Pitch Time: 9:30 PM ET
Pitching Probables: Freddy Garcia (Atlanta) vs. Ricky Nolasco (Los Angeles)
TV Channel: TBS
Radio: 93.7 FM/680 AM (Atlanta Flagship), Atlanta Braves Radio Network (Local Affiliates)
It is elimination day in Braves Country, and all that stands between a Game 5 back in Atlanta and the off-season is Freddy Garcia.
If you would have told me that I would have written that sentence back in June, I frankly would have asked you what you were smoking. I’ll be the first to admit, I hated the move for Garcia back when it happened, and plainly hoped that he would never get out of AAA and into a Braves uniform.
If nothing else, Garcia won’t be intimidated by the big stage. He has made 10 post-season starts in his career, including World Series starts. Although most of his starts were in his younger, more successful years, he did put up a 3.28 ERA in 60.1 post-season innings. To be fair, though, only one of his starts has come since 2005, and that was a loss that came 2 years ago as a Yankee to the Tigers.
The veteran right-hander has been absolutely excellent during his short stint with the Braves. In 6 games (including 3 starts), Garcia has a sparkling 1.65 ERA over 27.1 innings, and in short, he’s been an unexpected ray of shine. The best hope for Braves fans during tonight’s game is for Garcia to continue that stellar pitching, but many (or most) are expected a bit of regression.
He’ll be opposed by an old friend in former Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco. On the positive side, Nolasco has a 5.11 career ERA against the Braves (in 132 innings), but he was effective in his lone start against Atlanta this season, pitching 7 innings of 2-run ball. The 30-year-old won’t intimidate anyone, but he is the type of boom-or-bust pitcher that you don’t necessarily want to see in an elimination game.
Fortunately, the Braves won’t square off with Clayton Kershaw in this game, and that alone presents a positive outlook. Garcia against Nolasco isn’t exactly an advantage for the Braves, but it isn’t the catastrophe that Kershaw vs. Garcia would have been, and the Dodgers lineup could be due for some regression after Sunday night’s outburst.
Plain and simply, this is the game of the year for the Atlanta Braves, and if the team falters, it’ll be a long, chilling offseason of regret and anguish. Hopefully (with a win), the Braves will live to fight another day.
Stay with us throughout the night, and tell a friend where to find us for tremendous Braves coverage! Hopefully this won’t be the last Braves game thread of the year.