Braves extend manager Brian Snitker for two years with option for 2021

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The Atlanta Braves just announced a new contract for their manager: Brian Snitker, who was initially named interim manager in 2016 and then was given a one-year deal plus a team option when he was made permanent manager in October of that year, is now signed for two more seasons with a team option for 2021.

In 2018 Snitker, 63, took a Braves team that was widely expected to be at least a year away from contention to a 90-72 record and an NL East title. Snitker has been in the Braves organization in some role or another for over 40 years and is well-respected within the current big league clubhouse. As such, his extension was a foregone conclusion even if many originally expected him to be a caretaker manager until the team got into serious contention.

UPDATE: While Snitker was extended, the Braves have fired pitching coach Chuck Hernandez.

Hernandez, a long-time big league and minor league pitching coach, was hired by the Braves in November 2015 as Minor League pitching coordinator and was named the pitching coach for the Braves following the conclusion of the 2016 season. His dismissal this year is likely a product of a Braves staff that issued the second-most walks in the majors this season and allowed 27 walks and 8 homers in four games against the Dodgers in the NLDS.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.