ATLANTA -- With their first National League East title since 2005 in hand, the Braves have turned their focus toward securing home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs ahead of their final homestand of the regular season.
But Monday night's starting lineup reflected another pressing goal of the run-up to the postseason, as first baseman Freddie Freeman received his first day off since Aug. 29, replaced by rookie Joey Terdoslavich. Freeman became the first of a handful of everyday players who appear headed for a personal day later this week.
"I'm not going to give four or five [the day off] at the same time, but some of the guys are a little banged up, and I think we're going to use this to get a little recharged," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I think at the end of the season, having three days off is going to help us through some of those bumps and bruises."
Gonzalez expected Andrelton Simmons and Chris Johnson to each sit at least one game at some point over the upcoming series against Milwaukee and Philadelphia. Entering Monday, Simmons had appeared in 150 of the team's 155 games and leads all Atlanta position players with 143 starts this year. Johnson has manned third in all but three of the team's 90 games since June 12 after spending the first two months of the season splitting time with Juan Francisco.
After playing a full nine innings on Sunday for the first time since fracturing his jaw on Aug. 21, Jason Heyward was slated to start Monday and Tuesday's games against the Brewers before getting the day off on Wednesday as he continues to readjust to everyday action.
As for the pitching staff, Gonzalez cited the three days between the final day of the regular season and the start of the postseason as sufficient rest to keep his rotation and bullpen within their regular routine over the season's final week, without overtaxing or overprotecting any one arm.
"It's seven games, so I'd rather go out there and pitch just like we were still chasing the division," closer Craig Kimbrel said. "Every game does count, but I just don't want to take a few days off and get out of the groove of things. If it's a situation where I would normally go in and pitch, I want to go in and pitch."
Still, after nearly every regular missed significant time with an injury over the course of the season, the Braves will play it cautiously if they feel their push for home-field advantage is putting any key player at risk.
"I'm going to be looking at body language the next seven days, and if somebody comes in and starts doing a little twitch or something, I'm going to get them out," Gonzalez said. "You don't want guys getting hurt this time of year."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less