The Atlanta Braves were able to knock the defending champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers, out of the playoffs, taking the National League Championship Series, 4-2.
However, they had some struggling starts, too.
If they want to win it all against the Houston Astros in the Fall Classic, these slumping performers need to wake up.
3. Dansby Swanson
The Braves’ starting shortstop, Dansby Swanson, hit 27 home runs and drove in 88 runs during the 2021 regular season, with a solid, yet unspectacular .760 OPS.
In other words, his respectable bat and good defense make him a very good regular.
However, the postseason hasn’t been particularly kind to Swanson, with him struggling, most specifically, in the series against the Dodgers.
The infielder went 6-for-23 against Los Angeles, with two runs scored and an RBI in the NLCS.
That’s not so bad, you might say, but none of the six hits went for extra bases, and he didn’t draw any walks either.
Those situations left his overall slash line at a meager .261/.261/.261, with a poor .522 OPS.
The 0/6 BB/K ratio is especially troubling, and Atlanta definitely needs to have the regular-season Swanson back if they want to inflict consistent damage to the Astros in the World Series.
2. Luke Jackson
Overall, Luke Jackson hasn’t had a bad postseason, but he had an evening to forget in Game 2 of the NLCS.
That night, he allowed four earned runs and recorded just one out against the Dodgers, in a game that Los Angeles eventually won.
His overall line in the NLCS is basically a reflection of that game, but he surrendered an additional run and ended up with five in just 1.2 frames.
That equates to a 27.00 ERA, and considering Jackson is a key bullpen arm who pitched four games in the NLCS, he needs to be better against Houston.
He was lights out during the regular season, with a 1.98 ERA in 63.2 frames.
Atlanta needs him to replicate that form and leave behind the rough outing in the Championship Series, because there aren’t too many dependable arms in the Braves bullpen other than him, Matzek, A.J. Minter, and Will Smith.
There is no one more excited that the #Braves are done with the Dodgers than Luke Jackson. Braves fans get fired up Luke especially when things don't go well, but I will say this, he is accountable. Great conversation after the NLCS clincher. pic.twitter.com/fcgCUSKrjd
— Cody Chaffins (@Cody_Fox5) October 24, 2021
1. Max Fried
Max Fried opened the postseason with a six-inning, no-run outing against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Then, he conceded a couple of runs in six frames against the Dodgers.
After that, he lost Game 5 against Los Angeles and couldn’t complete five frames, allowing five earned runs and a lot of traffic on the basepaths.
Final line on Max Fried:
4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
— Kris Willis (@Kris_Willis) October 22, 2021
Overall, you could say his performance has been decreasing in quality during the postseason.
That’s something he may need to correct if the Braves are going to have any chance of lifting their first World Series trophy since 1995.
Fried’s ERA for the NLCS was 5.91 in 10.2 innings, far from the 3.04 he put up over the regular season.
If his curveball is working, he will be hard to decipher for the Astros.
But after his Game 5 performance, it’s hard to know which version of Fried we will get.