Joey Votto will have to manage his excitement when the Cincinnati Reds play Game 1 of a wild-card series against the Atlanta Braves at noon Wednesday. He knows how much the adrenaline surges in the playoffs and can still remember the feeling when he stepped to the plate for the final time in the 2012 and 2013 playoffs.
“I can’t wait to compete,” Votto said. “I’m glad we’re starting at noon as early as possible, so we don’t have to wait.”
The Reds flew from Minneapolis to Atlanta on Sunday night and held workouts at Truist Park on Monday and Tuesday. The two-day break was just right, Votto said.
“We don’t want to rest too much,” Votto said, “or it messes up your timing or you get stuck indoors. There’s a reason why we looked sluggish with the random COVID pauses. It’s really important to get the games going.”
There will be eight playoff games Wednesday — four in each league — and the Reds and Braves play the first game. According to BetOnline.ag, the Reds have the 11th-best odds (20-1) of winning the World Series.
Even while winning 11 of their last 14 games, the Reds didn’t play their best baseball, Votto said.
“There have been moments,” Votto said. “The starting pitching carried us for most of the season. We’ve got some really good performances from Michael Lorenzen helping us out later in the year. The starting pitching was probably our forte. From the offensive side of things, I think we’ve just been OK at best. At some point, the levee is going to be break, and we’re going to put everything together.”
Pitcher honored: Reds ace Trevor Bauer, who will start Game 1, was named the National League Pitcher of the Month for September. He was 2-2 with 46 strikeouts and a 1.29 ERA in five starts.
Braves ace: Max Fried (7-0, 2.25 ERA) will start Game 1 for the Braves. He made eight postseason appearances in the National League Division Series the last two seasons with the Braves but all in relief. This will be his first playoff start.
Fried is 1-1 with a 5.14 ERA in three career appearances against the Reds. He made one start against the Reds in 2019 and allowed one run on four hits in six innings. The Braves won that game 4-1 on Aug. 1 in Atlanta.
Of the 2020 Reds, Fried said, “They’re playing some pretty good baseball right now. They got hot down the stretch. They won a bunch of games. You’ve got to bring your A game. At the end of the day it’s all going to be about executing pitches."
History lesson: The Reds are 49-46 all time in 15 postseason appearances. They have played one wild-card game and appeared in three division series, eight National League Championship Series and nine World Series.
The Reds have won the world championship five times, first in 1919 and most recently in 1990. That ties them for the fourth most in baseball history.