MLB playoffs: Cardinals vs. Braves NLDS Game 5 pitching plans as Jack Flaherty faces Mike Foltynewicz
Surely each team wants its starter to go as long as it can
The Braves host the Cardinals for the decisive Game 5 of their NLDS on Wednesday to determine who gets to advance to the NLCS, with the Nationals at Dodgers game to follow. Two Game 5s on the same day is beautiful for any self-respecting baseball fan. How might the pitching for either team line up? Let's take a look.
Jack Flaherty gets the ball and he's the ace of the staff who should get some Cy Young support. Surely, Cardinals manager Mike Schildt will let Flaherty go as long as he can.
If Flaherty is able to go seven innings, I'd bet Shildt doesn't mess too much with his formula and sticks with familiar late-inning guys like Andrew Miller, Giovanny Gallagos and, gulp, Carlos Martinez.
If the Braves somehow get to Flaherty early, an intriguing option arises. Adam Wainwright was brilliant in Game 3 and has a career 2.79 postseason ERA. His stuff is far diminished from when he was a Cy Young candidate, but I could see him working 2-3 strong innings to keep his team in the game with their backs against the wall. After all, this could well be his last game in the Cardinals uniform and he surely doesn't want that to be the case. Even if his arm isn't feeling good, he's the type who could gut through something.
Mike Foltynewicz was brilliant in Game 2 and Braves manager Brian Snitker likewise will let Folty go as long as he's effective. As for if he needs to be removed, "it's definitely an all-hands-on-deck," Snitker said Tuesday.
If Foltynewicz does find himself in trouble early, the eyes immediately dart to Mike Soroka. The 22-year-old rookie is the Braves' best pitcher and he'll be on two-days' rest. He was brilliant in Game 3, giving up just one run on two hits in seven innings.
Also, lefty Max Fried was mentioned as someone who could go multiple innings. He worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings in Games 1-3 but wasn't used in Game 4.
Expect Mark Melancon to remain in the role of closer.
If the Braves need anyone aside from Folty, Soroka, Fried and Melancon I'd wager one of two things: Extra innings or a Braves loss.
Get excited. It's a playoff elimination game between two division winners.
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