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Sports Braves vs. Reds: National League Wild Card series preview, schedule, predictions

15:21  30 september  2020
15:21  30 september  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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The Braves ’ powerful offense will be matched against the Reds ’ strong starting rotation when the National League Wild Card Series begins at Truist Park on Braves : Freeman and Ozuna were the National League ’s top offensive players in September. Freeman produced a 1.246 OPS and Ozuna

The Braves ’ powerful offense will be matched against the Reds ’ strong starting rotation when the National League Wild Card Series begins at Truist Park on Wednesday. Top NL Cy Young Award candidate Trevor Bauer helped the Reds win 11 of their last 14 games to secure a Wild Card berth.

For the third straight season, the Atlanta Braves (35-25) ran away with the National League East. This time, they accomplished that over the course of 60 games instead of 162.

The Cincinnati Reds (31-29), meanwhile, needed a 16-9 showing in September to earn the NL's first wild card spot to set up a date with Atlanta. The two clubs have yet to meet this season, as MLB scheduled its 60-game season regionally for 2020.

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League Wild Card Series on Wednesday afternoon, the Braves drew first blood in this best-of-three series that could include one or two more nail-biters. The Braves haven’t won a postseason series since 2001, while the Reds ’ drought goes all the way back to 1995. Here is a look at how the two

The Atlanta Braves will look to advance to the National League Divisional Series when they take on the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday in the 2020 MLB The Braves lead the best-of-three Wild Card Series 1-0 after outlasting the Reds 1-0 in 13 innings on Wednesday when Freddie Freeman drove in

a man in a baseball uniform throwing a ball: Cincinnati Reds' Trevor Bauer reacts after recording a strikeout against Milwaukee Brewers' Christian Yelich last week. © Aaron Doster, AP Cincinnati Reds' Trevor Bauer reacts after recording a strikeout against Milwaukee Brewers' Christian Yelich last week.

Game 1 is primed for a pitcher's duel, with NL Cy Young favorite Trevor Bauer going for the Reds and the undefeated Max Fried starting for the Braves.

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Here's a closer look at the series:

Schedule

Wednesday, Game 1: Reds (Trevor Bauer, 5-4, 1.73 ERA) at Braves (Max Fried, 7-0, 2.25 ERA), noon, ESPN

Thursday, Game 2: Reds (Luis Castillo, 4-6, 3.21 ERA) at Braves (TBA), noon, ESPN

Friday, Game 3 (if necessary): Reds (Sonny Gray, 5-3, 3.70 ERA) at Braves (TBA), 3 p.m. ET, ESPN TBD

Three things to watch

Juggernaut vs. Jugger-not: A deep lineup propelled the Braves to one of the top team offenses in the game. Over the final month of the season, Atlanta averaged 6.7 runs per game (including a 29-run performance against the Miami Marlins). Freddie Freeman, who battled COVID-19 during summer training, is a National League MVP candidate after a .341/.462/.640 season. He didn't even lead his team in home runs or RBI — that would be Marcell Ozuna, whose 18 dingers and 56 RBI topped the NL. Throw in a now-healthy Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Travis d'Arnaud and Adam Duvall, and the Braves have a top-to-bottom advantage over a team that hit .212 collectively this year.

'Can't fault the pitching': Reds waste ace Trevor Bauer's amazing start

  'Can't fault the pitching': Reds waste ace Trevor Bauer's amazing start Trevor Bauer pitched a game for the ages Wednesday. Unfortunately for the Reds and Bauer, even a starting pitcher as durable and effective as him doesn’t go 13 innings in modern baseball. The 13th inning was when the Reds lost it – to the Atlanta Braves, 1-0 – in the first game of the National League wild-card series. Bauer went 7 ⅔ shutout innings. He allowed two hits, walked none and struck out 12. The 12 strikeouts were a Reds’ postseason record and the most by anyone in the postseason without allowing a walk.Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

The Wild Card Series has been introduced to the baseball world, and Sporting News has the schedule , scores and more from the opening series of Not without its speed bumps, the 60-game MLB regular season has officially concluded, giving way to the debut of the Wild Card Series this

The Atlanta Braves can punch their ticket to the divisional round of the MLB Playoffs with a win over the Cincinnnati Reds on Thursday. The Braves are set to counter with right-hander Ian Anderson, who will make his first postseason appearance. Here’s how to watch Reds vs . Braves online and on TV

Reds rotation: If the Braves have the upper hand on the lineup card, then the Reds have it on the mound, at least in theory. Cincinnati's staff posted the best fWAR (8.1), Fielding Independent Pitching (3.47) and K/9 rate (11.01) in the majors, and Bauer-Castillo-Gray is a potent postseason rotation. Looking at Game 1, Bauer is coming off a start that almost surely secured his Cy Young, while Fried has missed time this month with back issues and also tweaked his ankle during his final start.

Can Reds timely hitting carry them?: Even though the Reds' team batting average ranked last in the bigs, this offense has pieces to put runs on the board. It just needs to strike at the right time. Cincinnati led the NL in walks, as Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas and Eugenio Suarez all had on-base percentages more than 100 points higher than their batting averages. The Reds hit the fourth-most home runs in the NL (the Braves were second) with 90, and 59.7% of Cincinnati's runs came via homers. That mark is the highest in baseball history, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Prediction

Reds in 3.

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Braves vs. Reds: National League Wild Card series preview, schedule, predictions

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