Two wins. That’s all it’s going to take to advance to the National League Divisional Series. Even the best teams will lose a series here and there to a bad team. In the playoffs, even in 2020 when 16 teams in baseball make the playoffs, there are no bad teams. Some teams may be better, but no one is a bad team. While I’m sure most of you reading this are Reds fans, and are probably feeling good about Cincinnati heading into the series – this is Redleg Nation after all – let’s take a look around at what some of the national media are picking in the series.
Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections worked their magic in the computer and came up with odds for each game in the three game series. The Reds aren’t favored in any of them. The Braves have a 62.9% chance to win the series according to the ZiPS projections.
While Eric Longenhagen didn’t exactly predict a winner, he’s sure likes their chances.
This team should terrify the National League. In addition to the three big starters, Tyler Mahle has had a good year and Michael Lorenzen, who should pitch out of the bullpen and pinch run during the Wild Card round, made two good starts toward the end of the regular season. This team also has one of the deeper bullpens in baseball, especially if we’re talking about the inning-eating long relievers. Lucas Sims, Lorenzen, Tejay Antone and perhaps Wade Miley and Anthony DeSclafani can all give the club multiple innings out of the bullpen. The lineup doesn’t have power from top to bottom but those who lack power grind out tough at-bats, and the club can play left/right matchups with their outfielders and upgrade their defense late with Freddy Galvis and Jose Garcia coming off the bench. I think this group could make a deep, deep run.
Over at The Athletic they polled 10 of their writers and editors for the entire playoff bracket. Of those ten, five of them picked the Cincinnati Reds to win the series against Atlanta. Three of them then picked the Reds to advance to the NLCS, but all three had them losing to a team from the NL West.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan
Much like Eric Longenhagen at Fangraphs, Jeff Passan didn’t exactly pick a winner, but he loves the series.
Give me Braves-Reds. In baseball’s one-year, 16-team experiment, the 2-7 series looks a lot like a 5-12 in the NCAA tournament — ripe for upset.
Yes, a few hundred words ago, I was singing the Braves’ praise. Yes, a few dozen words ago, I was pointing out that over 60 games, the Reds batted .212. Here’s the thing: Cincinnati will start the deserved NL Cy Young winner, Trevor Bauer, in Game 1, follow with Luis Castillo (September: 32? IP, 22 H, 9 BB, 37 K’s, 2.20 ERA) and, if necessary, close with Sonny Gray.
Even though the Reds can’t hit, they walked more than any other team in the National League and finished behind only the Dodgers, Braves and Padres, three swatalicious teams, with 90 home runs. In fact, 59.7% of the Reds’ runs came via the long ball — by far the highest in baseball history, according to ESPN Stats & Info. (The previous best: Toronto in 2019, with 53.2%.)
Redleg Nation Radio
Hey, why not a little self promotion, huh? In the pre-playoff edition of Redleg Nation Radio, both Chad and myself picked the Reds to beat the Braves. I have Cincinnati winning the first two games, while Chad has the Reds taking the series in three games. We talked a lot about the Braves, and a little bit about the Reds, too. So go give it a listen.