You probably wouldn’t guess it, but of all the NL playoff contenders, the Atlanta Braves have, by far, the youngest pitching staff. The rotation is not very experienced, with an average age of 24 amongst their top four. However, the pitchers have played with poise and confidence all season.
Alex Wood was blatantly shafted by umpire C.B. Bucknor during Wednesday night’s game, but he wasn’t afraid to stand up to the incompetent menace and express his disgust. Some may see that move as immature, and he even partially renounced his actions in a post-game interview, but I loved it. He didn’t fear telling off an umpire, and that’s what I want to see in pitchers headed into October, fearlessness.
It was dangerous, sure. He could have been thrown out of the game, but at that point, frankly I wouldn’t have cared if he was. The Braves were hitting .199 over the span of 13 games going into Wednesday night and runs were at a premium. Wood was doing everything he could to keep the Washington Nationals at bay, and despite his outstanding work getting out of a jam, Bucknor stole that accomplishment from him. Bucknor needed to feel the immediate repercussions for his incompetence in that moment.
As one of the two 22-year-old players manning spots in the Braves’ rotation, Wood will have to perform like a salty veteran to help his team get deep into the postseason; Julio Teheran will have to step up as well. Teheran showed some grit himself a few months back when he accidentally beltedl he took special exception to the bad pitch. As Harper bellowed toward him and aggressively made his way up the baseline, Teheran did not back down, nor show any hesitation to approach him.
These situations may seem trivial in the long run, and I agree that the most important factor going into the postseason is performance, but we already know that these young guys can pitch. If you consider the outstanding performances these rookies have had, everything seems kind of trivial, but the little things matter too.
It’s been a long September for the Braves, and a little drama may be exactly what the doctor ordered. This team needs to be aggressive and ready for battle if they’re to avoid another early postseason dismissal that seems to have plagued the organization for more than a decade.