Brian Snitker‘s questionable bullpen decisions cost the Braves a playoff win. When will he stop relying on Luke Jackson?
Going into the 8th inning, the Atlanta Braves had a 3-1 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. The city of Atlanta was getting ready to celebrate a game one victory. Then, Brian Snitker made the wrong bullpen decision (something he has done multiple times this season). However, this wasn’t the only call that Snitker made that would cost the Braves game one of the NLDS. Let’s look at a few of those game-changing decisions by the skipper of the Braves.
1) Taking Dallas Keuchel Out in the 5th Inning With 2 Outs
There is no doubt that Dallas Keuchel was going to be finished after the 5th inning. His pitch count was adding up and the bullpen would handle the last four innings. However, Snitker didn’t even let Keuchel finish the 5th. Why was this a game-changing decision?
In the bottom of the 5th, Keuchel was due up to bat. By taking him out and putting Darren O’Day in the game, this meant that Snitker sacrificed a bullpen pitcher for one out. This would later come back and haunt the Braves. O’Day only threw six pitches and will be available for game two, but it would’ve been much better to have him available in the 8th inning.
2) Taking Max Fried Out of the Game After One Inning
One could make the argument that Max Fried should be starting game two or three; however, Snitker wanted Fried out of the bullpen. The only problem is: Max is a starter, meaning he could go multiple innings, yet Brian Snitker didn’t use him in that type of role, which would later prove detrimental to Atlanta.
Max threw a total of 14 pitches. 9 of those were strikes and he struck out two of the three batters he faced. All that being said, everyone imagined Fried would come back out for the 8th inning. He does have a record of 17-6 on the season, and is lights out when he gets into a rhythm (P.S. – That 7th inning was Fried just getting started). But, Brian Snitker had other plans in his mind, and this is when the Braves collapse in game one was about to take place.
3) Putting Luke Jackson In The Game
Again, most would agree that taking Max Fried out of the game was a mistake. However, Brian Snitker turned to Chris Martin, who would leave with injury before throwing a pitch. This meant the Braves had Josh Tomlin, Sean Newcomb, and Luke Jackson to pick from. Of all those three, why would Snitker pick Luke Jackson? Think about it: Jackson is the reason the Braves TRADED for bullpen help in July. Why? Because people couldn’t even imagine him pitching in a crucial playoff situation.
All that being said, Snitker decided to bring in Luke Jackson in the 8th inning of a game where the Braves were leading 3-1. Snitker decided to bring in the pitcher with SEVEN blown saves, TEN home runs given up, and a 3.84 ERA.
What happened on the first batter that Luke Jackson faced? HOME RUN. Everyone knows what happened next: the Braves would eventually lose. The record books will show Mark Melancon as the losing pitcher of the game. However, Brian Snitker deserves the blame. Melancon should have NEVER been needed in the 8th inning. He’s not primarily used for more than one inning.
Lots of Baseball Left, But Game 1 Loss Hurts BAD
The majority of game one winners win the best-of-5 playoff series; however, the series is still very young and the Braves have a chance. However, Brian Snitker may be blamed AGAIN by most experts if the Braves go down 2-0. Why? He’s pitching Mike Foltynewicz over Mike Soroka in a must-win game for the Braves. This could be genius or it could very well be the beginning of the end for Atlanta’s season.
Bottom Line: The Braves were six outs away from taking a 1-0 series lead. Brian Snitker must take responsibility that he made horrible bullpen decisions in game one. He cannot let that happen again if the Braves want a NLCS appearance.
One last thought: Imagine if Snitker wouldn’t have left Julio Teheran off the NLDS roster. Luke Jackson wouldn’t have even been an option for this game.