|Posted by theprincipality on November 2, 2018 at 8:45 PM|
In the end, the inevitable happened. Atlanta, having defied all expectations to win their first NL East title in five years, found themselves outmatched by an LA Dodgers team now in their third consecutive NLCS. The gulf in class was evident right from the outset. Los Angeles is a decorated team of household names like Kershaw, Machado, Puig and Bellinger. The only surprise was the difficulty with which they eventually took the NL West. It was really the deadline trade for Machado that was the catalyst for their run to the postseason. Yet despite their scuffling into October, right from the word go of Game 1, they looked polished, professional and much stronger than the Braves.
So it is with a sense of déjà vu that we find ourselves eliminated at the first postseason hurdle. Down in four games to a classy Dodgers team having led Game 4 but let it slip. Shades of 2013 and Juan Uribe. The difference between then and now though is the immense sense of hope in Atlanta. This team was not supposed to be this good this soon. They still have a long way to go, as was shown this past week but people are now talking about the Atlanta Braves.
Ronald Acuna Jr has announced himself to the world. If you hadn’t heard of him before this week, you sure have now. Bases loaded in Game 3 and he didn’t miss out, becoming the youngest player to hit a postseason grand slam. Acuna is just one of the talents who will just get better. Ozzie Albies, Touki Toussaint, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley, Max Fried, Luiz Gohara are all only just starting to realise their potential and yet they walked away with the NL East this year.
Yet the question remains how to win in October? This is when the big boys bring their best. You might split a series in the regular season, but to beat the best in October is a different animal altogether. You need to be confident in your rotation and not go bullpen by committee. Your aces (yes, plural) need to dominate and not give up home runs, whilst a couple of guys need to get hot in your lineup and carry the team through adversity. This is where the Braves still lack completion, but hopefully they will go away from this season and not lick their wounds but learn from their experience. They won’t always have to play the Dodgers, but to be the best, you have to beat the best and somewhere along the way they will face a dominant pitcher like Kershaw and an imposing lineup like the Dodgers have. Only in victory over these teams will a World Series come South again.