World Series: 5 Braves players who could be difference-makers

The Atlanta Braves are looking to rekindle some of the magic that won them a World Series in 1995. The team boasts Freddie Freeman, the reigning National League MVP and a host of talented young players in the bullpen, the field, and around the plate.

The Braves had hoped that Ronald Acuna Jr. would be available for this portion of the season, but he was injured in his ACL accident in July. Joc Pederson and Adam Duvall were acquired weeks later by the Braves. Each of these players played a part in getting them here.

The Braves finished 12th in batting average (. 244), third in home runs (239), seventh in RBI (762), 14th in hits (1,307) and eighth in slugging (.754). On the mound, they were eighth in ERA (. 88), 15th in strikeouts (1,417) and opponents hit . 234 against him during the season.

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Here’s five players who could be difference-makers in the Fall Classic.

Tyler Matzek

Atlanta Braves pitcher Tyler Matzek reacts after striking out Los Angeles Dodgers' Mookie Betts to end the seventh inning in Game 6 of baseball's National League Championship Series Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Atlanta.

Atlanta Braves pitcher Tyler Matzek reacts after striking out Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts to end the seventh inning in Game 6 of baseball’s National League Championship Series Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Tyler Matzek came up big for the Braves with the Los Angeles Dodgers threatening in Game 6 of the NLCS. To end any chance Los Angeles had for winning that game, he struck out four batters in a row. His six-inning pitching performance was impressive against Astros batters. He only allowed two runs.

Eddie Rosario

Atlanta Braves' Eddie Rosario, center, celebrates after hitting a three run home run during the fourth inning in Game 6 of baseball's National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Atlanta.

Atlanta Braves’ Eddie Rosario, center, celebrates after hitting a three run home run during the fourth inning in Game 6 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Eddie Rosario was a big acquisition by the Braves in the middle of the season. In the NLCS, he proved his worth against the Dodgers. In Game 6, he hit a home run for three runs and scored a run in the walk-off in Game 2. He was named the NLCS MVP.

Will Smith

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Will Smith celebrates after winning Game 6 of baseball's National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Atlanta. The Braves defeated the Dodgers 4-2 to win the series.

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Will Smith celebrates after winning Game 6 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Atlanta. To win the series, the Braves beat the Dodgers by 4-2.
(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Will Smith was given the win in the two games and got the save in one game in the NLCS. It will be vital that Smith can give Atlanta solid innings in the final part of games, particularly when playing at Minute Maid Park. Smith didn’t allow any runs and struck out four batters in his four appearances.

WORLD SERIES 2021: WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE FALL CLASSIC

Austin Riley

Atlanta Braves' Austin Riley is congratulated after hitting a home run in the fourth inning in Game 1 of baseball's National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Atlanta.

Atlanta Braves’ Austin Riley is congratulated after hitting a home run in the fourth inning in Game 1 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Austin Riley also played the hero for the Braves as well as Rosario. As clutch as he was. Riley was the offensive player with the highest Win Probability Added (0. 65), according to Baseball-Reference in the NLCS. And the second-highest Championship Win Probability Added (10.61%). Rosario was behind both of them. He was also 5-for-25 with two doubles, a home run and four RBI. It’s likely that he will be an outing for the Astros pitcher.

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Max Fried

Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried walks to the dugout during the fourth inning in Game 1 of baseball's National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Atlanta.

Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried walks to the dugout during the fourth inning in Game 1 of baseball’s National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Max Fried was arguably the best starter for the Braves in 2021. His 3. 04 ERA with 158 strikeouts in 28 starts. However, it had an inflated 5. 91 ERA in two starts in the NLCS. Houston’s best will test his resolve. His electric skills are what the Braves will be relying upon in this series.

By editor