Giants fans have easy NLCS rooting interest with old friends on Braves
Why Giants fans have a slight NLCS interest in Braves originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
If the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros make it to the World Series, there might be some Giants fans who find it a little more difficult than usual, just with the old playoff plan, “I'm for the team that is ahead of the Dodgers " to play .
The Dodgers are the Dodgers, but the Astros cheated on the game and are not apologizing for it. To see them celebrate again would be an end to this 2020 season.
That could be an issue for later this month (although we're honest, you will probably still face the Dodgers). Next week's matchup is a much easier choice, perhaps the easiest in this Dodgers run that has now been nearly a decade.
After dispatching the really fun San Diego Padres to the NLDS with no problems, the Dodgers now face a good Atlanta Braves club that is essentially Giants East. The Braves have five former Giants on their roster, including a fan favorite, a Willie Mac Award winner, and a former first-round player who was partially responsible for the 2012 title.
We start with the man who was once traded for Marco Scutaro and is helping bring a second championship to San Francisco. Eight years later, Culberson is still in the big league, and he's an Atlanta fan favorite, as seen only in popular bankers. His hair even has a Twitter account.
Culberson is quietly playing his eighth season in the big league, despite only getting seven bats for the Braves this year. They gave him a DFA in early September but brought him back for the playoffs. Culberson had some big hits after the season but only appeared once in the first two rounds. If you're looking for him on the NLCS make sure you don't confuse him with Dansby Swanson or Ian Anderson:
It seemed like the Braves were doing Farhan Zaidi a big favor by taking on the final year of Melancon's deal at close of 2019, but he actually turned out to be a great addition. Melancon has a 3.30 ERA and 22 saves in 46 streaks for the Braves, and he's retired all 12 base runners he faced this off-season.
Melancon looks like the guy the Giants thought they'd get. His cutter is back to 93 to 94 mph and his curveball has been almost unbeatable this season. If he had thrown like this in his early years in San Francisco, a new regime may never have been introduced.
That trade was still good for the Giants as they came out under big buck and picked up Tristan Beck who has the chance to be in their rotation soon. But when you look at this version of Melancon it's hard to believe that it is exactly what the 2020 Giants needed.
The second time we could get a Will Smith-Will Smith matchup, and this time it would come on a much brighter stage. The 2019 Giants had a tough first year in Atlanta when they tested positive for the coronavirus over the summer and allowed seven homers on his return. But he was a weapon in the postseason, throwing 4 1/3 innings without hits, and will be a key player against a Dodgers team he knows very well.
Ahh, the one who escaped. Duvall was infamously sent to the Reds, where he morphed into the 30 homer outfielder the Giants have been looking for. Duvall ended up in Triple-A again last year, but he's become a valuable piece of the big league again.
Duvall hit 16 homers and made 33 runs in the shortened season. He is Atlanta's left starting player and hits sixth or seventh place in a very low line-up.
RELATED: Ten Things You May Not Know About 2020 Giants
Sandoval was designated for use when the Giants wanted to test Justin Smoak. He went to the alternate location for the Braves and was called up for their last game of the season. He hasn't seen the field in October but he was in the middle of the celebrations and seems to be having a good time.
It's unclear whether Sandoval will be on the NLCS list, but no matter what, he'll be up for his fourth ring if the Braves win it all. When he makes the next roster, he will try to make a postseason resume that has an average of .344 and six homers.
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