The Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds began their best-of-three Wild Card Series on Wednesday, and the Braves won a historically low-scoring game, 1-0, in 13 innings. Atlanta will try to advance to the NLDS on Thursday, while Cincinnati will try to find some offense to support Luis Castillo. The Braves, who won the NL East, are the No. 2 seed in the bracket, while the Reds are the No. 7 seed.
Here is how you can watch the Wild Card Series matchup. All three games will be played at Truist Park in Atlanta.
|Date||Start time||Starting pitchers||TV||Odds (via William Hill Sportsbook)|
Thurs., Oct. 1
12 p.m. ET
RHP Ian Anderson vs. RHP Luis Castillo
|ATL -130; CIN +120; O/U: 7.5|
Fri., Oct. 2
TBA vs. RHP Sonny Gray
* if necessary
Here are three things to know about the series.
Top offense vs. top rotation
The Braves scored 5.80 runs per game during the regular season, finishing just behind the Dodgers (5.82 runs per game) for the title of top offense in baseball. Freddie Freeman is an MVP candidate, Ronald Acuna Jr. is a megastar, and others like Adam Duvall and Marcell Ozuna had excellent seasons. Atlanta's lineup is very good and very deep.
The Reds, meanwhile, led baseball in starting pitching WAR and by a good margin too. In a short postseason series Bauer-Castillo-Gray is as formidable as it gets. Cincinnati's bullpen can be hit or miss, so the Reds will need their starters to be great and pitch deep into games. In October, I want to see greatness, and this series features a great offense and a great rotation. Fun!
Rematch of 1995 NLCS
These two franchises have been around basically forever -- the Braves spent time in Boston and Milwaukee before settling in Atlanta -- but they have only met in the postseason once before. That was the 1995 NLCS, which Atlanta swept in four games. It was a decidedly one-sided series:
- Game 1: Braves 2, Reds 1 in 11 innings
- Game 2: Braves 6, Reds 2
- Game 3: Braves 5, Reds 2
- Game 4: Braves 6, Reds 0
The Braves started three Hall of Famers (Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz) and Steve Avery in the series and held the Reds to five runs in four games. Mike Devereaux was named NLCS MVP after providing the game-winning hit in extra-innings in Game 1 and hitting a three-run home run in Game 4.
Of course, what happened in 1995 or any year doesn't matter in 2020. Different teams with different players in different years. Trying to predict a best-of-three series is basically impossible in this game. Trying to do so using past history doesn't make it any more precise. These are two great teams and the series could go either way.
One team will finally win a postseason round
Obvious statement is obvious, but it is a big deal. Neither the Braves nor the Reds have won a postseason round in a very long time. The Braves have not won a postseason round since the 2001 NLDS. For the Reds, you have to go back to the 1995 NLDS for their last postseason round victory. To be clear, this includes Wild Card Games. Neither team has advanced a postseason round in a very long time. One of these two clubs will end that drought this year.