Wednesday October 27th, 2021 6:19PM

Braves, Brewers spurred to playoffs by bold midseason deals

By Steve Megargee AP Sports Writer
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MILWAUKEE — Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves left spring training with high hopes following three straight NL East titles.

Then star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. tore the ACL in his right knee, and it fell on the front office to get underwhelming Atlanta the help it needed.

The Braves hadn’t been above .500 all season when general manager Alex Anthopoulos essentially acquired an entirely new outfield at the trade deadline. Those moves helped Atlanta surge to another NL East crown and a Division Series matchup starting Friday with the NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers, who benefited from their own roster adjustments.

“Getting those pieces kind of just gave us that boost of energy to make it,” said Freeman, the Braves’ All-Star first baseman and 2020 NL MVP.

Whether it was Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall and Joc Pederson to the Braves, or Willy Adames to Milwaukee, both clubs had to shake up their fortunes by changing the lineups in order to punch a fourth consecutive playoff ticket.

“Both teams have made additions that have helped their respective teams,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “We started a little bit earlier than most teams in making some of those decisions and some of those acquisitions.”

Milwaukee was below .500 when it acquired shortstop Adames from the Tampa Bay Rays on May 21. The Brewers went 74-44 after his arrival. Adames batted .285 with 20 home runs, 58 RBIs and an .886 OPS, leading the team with 3.9 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs, despite playing just 99 games after the trade.

“I don’t think I did anything crazy or anything special,” Adames said. “I just come to the field every day just to play the game the right way, just to have fun and enjoy this because this is what we live for.”

Rowdy Tellez came over from Toronto and provided the Brewers stability at first base. Hunter Strickland, designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels, became a key part of Milwaukee’s bullpen. Eduardo Escobar arrived just before the trade deadline and is one of the Brewers’ top hitters.

The Braves didn’t seem to have any major holes in the lineup until its entire opening day outfield fell apart. Promising rookie center fielder Cristian Pache struggled and got hurt, left fielder Marcell Ozuna was arrested on assault charges in late May following an altercation with his wife and hasn’t returned, and Acuña suffered a season-ending injury in early July.

“We were just treading water all year, kind of playing .500, couple games under .500 all year,” Freeman recalled.

Pederson was the first reinforcement, acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 15. Two weeks later, Anthopoulos added three more outfielders: Duvall, Soler and Eddie Rosario.

Duvall and Soler have been especially productive, with Duvall clubbing 16 homers and Soler adding 14 in 55 games each down the stretch.

That helped Atlanta go 36-19 after July 31.

“We’ve been mixing and matching all year,” Freeman said. “It’s been an absolute grind. I think that’s what’s so special about it this year is because I felt like we’ve been grinding all year, trying to figure it out.”


This series features the Braves’ potent lineup facing the Brewers’ exceptional rotation.

Atlanta has three of the NL’s top four RBI producers in Duvall (113), Austin Riley (107) and Ozzie Albies (106). Freeman had an NL-leading 120 runs scored.

Milwaukee struck out an MLB-leading 1,618 batters with a rotation featuring All-Star right-handers Corbin Burnes (11-5, 2.43), Brandon Woodruff (9-10, 2.56) and Freddy Peralta (10-5, 2.81).


Burnes will start Game 1 for the Brewers against Braves veteran Charlie Morton (14-6, 3.34).

Burnes gave up five runs over four innings when he last faced the Braves on July 30, though the Brewers still won the game 9-5.

Morton is 7-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 13 career postseason appearances. He pitched 10 2/3 scoreless innings for Tampa Bay in last year’s AL Championship Series.

“It’s nice to know that I’ve been in these spots,” Morton said. “It’s reassuring because the unknown is really what gets you in life.”


The Brewers and Braves have some notable connections, but this marks the first time they’ve faced off in a postseason series.

The Braves played in Milwaukee from 1953-65 — winning a World Series in 1957 and an NL pennant in 1958 — before moving to Atlanta.

Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, who died Jan. 22 at the age of 86, played for the Milwaukee Braves from 1954-65 before joining them in Atlanta and hitting his record 715th homer in 1974. The Braves traded Aaron to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1975.


The Brewers are adapting their bullpen to account for the absence of setup man and 2020 NL rookie of the year Devin Williams, who fractured his throwing hand when he punched a wall the night Milwaukee clinched the NL Central title.

Milwaukee does appear to have the edge at closer.

All-Star left-hander Josh Hader converted 34 of 35 save opportunities and posted a 1.23 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings for the Brewers during the regular season. Atlanta’s Will Smith went 37 of 43 on save opportunities and had a 3.44 ERA.


Both teams have fared better on the road than at home. The Braves are 46-35 in away games and 42-38 at home. The Brewers are 50-31 on the road and 45-36 at home.

  • Associated Categories: Sports
  • Associated Tags: Atlanta Braves
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
ICYMI: Week 8 previews -- Playoff contenders, pretenders could be discovered this week
Once again, another huge night could be in store as crucial region contests dominate the schedule on Friday night around the Northeast Georgia area...
8:03AM ( 53 minutes ago )
Volleyball: Bluff captures 7-3A crown; North Hall takes 2nd
Cherokee Bluff held off North Hall in thrilling three-set match in the finals to capture the Area 7-3A volleyball championship on Thursday at the North Hall gym...
7:25AM ( 1 hour ago )
Braves, Brewers spurred to playoffs by bold midseason deals
Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves left spring training with high hopes following three straight NL East titles. Then star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. tore the ACL in his right knee, and it fell on the front office to get underwhelming Atlanta the help it needed...
6:30AM ( 2 hours ago )
Pederson, Contreras HRs power Braves past Mets
Joc Pederson hit a solo homer off Carlos Carrasco in the third inning, William Contreras went deep with a two-run shot off Carrasco in the fourth and the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 6-5 on Saturday night...
10:45PM ( 5 days ago )
Braves capture unlikeliest 4th straight NL East title
Ian Anderson turned in another dominant pitching performance, Jorge Soler and Austin Riley homered, and the Atlanta Braves clinched their fourth straight NL East title by completing a sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies with a 5-3 victory Thursday night...
By Paul Newberry AP Sports Writer
10:29PM ( 1 week ago )
Braves magic number down to 1 as Fried powers Braves past Phils
Max Fried pitched seven strong innings, Austin Riley drove in three runs, and the Atlanta Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-2 on Wednesday night to move within one victory of a fourth straight NL East title...
By George Henry AP Sports Writer
10:51PM ( 1 week ago )
Braves hold off Phillies, move step closer to NL East title
Charlie Morton threw seven scoreless innings, Jorge Soler hit a two-run single and the Atlanta Braves escaped a ninth-inning jam to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 on Tuesday night and move closer to their fourth consecutive NL East title...
By Charles Odum AP Sports Writer
10:27PM ( 1 week ago )
Braves, Phillies to go head to head with NL East title on the line
The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies are in an old-fashioned battle for the NL East title, with the wild card looking unlikely for whoever finishes second...
By Noah Trister AP Sports Writer
2:19PM ( 1 week ago )