Oh, sweet revenge.
In what seems like destiny, the Atlanta Braves have a shot at redemption, facing off against the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS for the second-straight postseason.
The Braves won their sixth-straight division title in September, earning them a bye during the first round of the playoffs, along with some well-deserved but potentially disastrous time off.
It’s a highly-anticipated rematch as the Braves will face off against their NL East rivals who swept the Marlins in two games during the Wild Card series, bottling up a little extra momentum on their way to Atlanta.
The 104-win Braves—the most in the majors— haven’t played since October 1.
Under MLB’s new playoff system (implemented in 2022), teams with a bye have at least five days off between the Wild Card round and the start of the division series. Last year, after the bye break, the Braves lost to the Phillies in four games.
To get you completely back up to speed before the NLDS rematch, here’s a recap of what happened in 2022 and how the Braves chose to stay fresh this time around:
A Recap of the Braves Disappointing NLDS in 2022
The Braves won 101 games in 2022 and got clobbered by the Phillies, three games to one. Besides scoring six runs in the Game 1 loss, the Braves didn’t score more than three for the rest of the series.
The Phillies outscored their rivals 24-to-13 throughout the series and sent the Braves home early as Atlanta attempted to repeat as World Series champions.
The Phillies went on to take down the Padres and secured their first NL pennant since 2009. They ultimately fell short in six games versus the Houston Astros in the World Series.
Avoiding Rust: What the Braves Did to Stay Active in 2023 During Their Bye Week
The Braves don’t want to come out flat, obviously.
In an attempt to maintain the intensity during the bye week, the Braves opened Truist Park to fans during their on-field workouts, batting practice, and sim games.
Third baseman Austin Riley said, “Anytime you have fans in the building, it definitely boosts the energy and the game-like conditions. That lull in between the Wild Card and the DS, we’re trying to build that momentum.”
Manager Brian Snitker admitted having fans in attendance makes practice feel “more realistic than what we did last year.”
It’s not uncommon for 100-plus win teams to lose momentum after sitting out for a few days:
The 2022 Los Angeles Dodgers won 111 games and were upset by the 89-win San Diego Padres in the other NL Division Series. The 2021 San Francisco Giants won 107 games and lost in five games to the Dodgers in NLDS.
How Much Better Are the Braves in 2023 Compared to 2022?
The 2023 Braves are deep.
They have six players with more than 20 home runs, four of whom knocked in more than 100 runs.
Matt Olson led the majors in home runs with 54 and RBI (139) and he might not even be the best player on the team. Ronald Acuna had a season unlike any other player in history, slugging 41 long balls and swiping 73 bases.
Spencer Strider was MLB’s only 20-game winner and led the entire league with 281 strikeouts. Charlie Morton and Bryce Elder won 14 and 12 games, respectively, and the team’s ace, Max Fried, went 8-1 with a 2.55 ERA in only 14 games.
Michael Harris, Orlando Arcia, Eddie Rosario, and Sean Murphy round out a prominent Braves offense while relievers Raisel Iglesias, A.J. Minter, and Kirby Yates lock down the late innings.
The Phillies are hot. Citizens Bank Park is wild and their fans are hungry for another NL title.
Philadelphia is looking to enact their own revenge, lobbying to finish what they started last year in the World Series.
Buckle up, the NLDS is going to be one for the ages. The Braves and Phillies square in Game 1 on Saturday at 6:07 p.m. ET.