2. SP Max Fried
Max Fried is the best starter in the Braves rotation. He has the ability to pitch deep into games and last year he finished 7-0 with a 5th place finish in the Cy Young voting. In 2021, his 1.09 WHIP ranks him 15th in all of the MLB and during the season he posted 19 quality starts of the 28 games he started, 19 quality starts being tied for ninth most in all of baseball. He also was tied for the most complete game shutouts in the MLB with 2.
Fried is no stranger to pitching in big games, even with this only being his fifth year in the big leagues. He’s pitched in 12 postseason games, starting four. His postseason ERA stands at 3.90 through the five series that he’s pitched in and he owns a WHIP of 1.33. Last season against the Dodgers in the NLCS, Fried really came into his own. He threw 12.2 innings in that series, logging a 2.84 ERA and 14 strikeouts against a dangerous Dodgers lineup.
He’s a ground ball pitcher that also does a nice job of keeping the ball in the park. He ranks 13th in baseball in ground ball outs recorded during the 2021 season with 199 and he boasts a HR/9 of 0.8, as he’s only surrendered 15 big flies on the season, which is tied for third-least in the MLB (8 more than Corbin Burnes who leads in that category).Expect to see lots of curveballs when facing Max Fried as he can locate it for strikes or spike them to ring you up.
3. 3B Austin Riley
The 24 year old corner infielder has taken the league by storm in 2021. Austin Riley was one of the most productive and durable players in baseball this season. To go from 131 games played in his first two years in the MLB combined to 160 this season (which was tied for most in the NL), he has taken a jump as one of the premiere hot corner patrollers in the sport.
He finished above his teammate, Freddie Freeman in OPS with an .896 rating and above Nolan Arenado in Defensive Runs Saved. The guy can really do it all.
He popped 33 home runs and 33 doubles this season, also driving in 107 runs and scoring 91 himself. In the regular season he slashed an impressive .303/.367/.531 and posted an OPS+ of 132.
In his first postseason a year ago, he struggled overall with only a .178 average with one home run and four RBI’s in 49 plate appearances. Don’t expect those numbers during this year’s World Series run as he looks to be an entirely different hitter.
Plate discipline is one place where Austin Riley could improve as he’s below the 50th percentile in strikeout percentage, walk percentage, whiff percentage and chase rate according to Baseball Savant. When he does get ahold of the baseball though, odds are it’s coming off the barrel. If baseball fans didn’t know the name ‘Austin Riley’ entering these playoffs, they’ll more than likely know him after this series is over. He’s one of the most dangerous bats in Brian Snitker’s lineup.