AP photo by John Amis / Atlanta Braves reliever Will Smith pitches against the Miami Marlins on Sept. 7. Smith and fellow relievers Chris Martin and Mark Melancon both pitched on back-to-back days as the Braves swept their NL wild-card series with the Cincinnati Reds this past week.

ATLANTA — The deep Atlanta Braves bullpen is preparing for its biggest test.

There will be no off days in the team's best-of-five National League Division Series against the Miami Marlins, which begins Tuesday at the Houston Astros' Minute Maid Park.

Braves manager Brian Snitker may have to maneuver his pitching staff through five games in five days. Atlanta starters failed to last five innings in more than half of the 60 regular-season games, but the strong bullpen helped Atlanta win its third straight NL East title.

Atlanta relievers threw nine scoreless innings in this past week's two-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds in the NL wild-card round and could be even more important against the Marlins, who finished second to Atlanta in the division to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2003 before sweeping the Chicago Cubs.

"I think the bullpen depth helps us be equipped, but you know we're not going to throw them five days in a row," Snitker said Saturday. "That's going to be the challenge, the lack of off days that normally in the playoffs you have where you exhaust all those guys."

Will Smith, Chris Martin and Mark Melancon worked back-to-back days in the sweep of the Reds. If there had been a third game, all would have been available.

Snitker said he may have to use some relievers in as many as four of the five games against the Marlins. Smith said there will be no complaints.

"We've got a hard-working bullpen," Smith said. "We show up every day and we get our work done. We're all on that first bus. We all know we want to throw that night. We take pride in being up every single day. We don't like days off. We don't like to be down."

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AP photo by John Bazemore / Atlanta Braves closer Mark Melancon pitches against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, a 5-0 win to sweep the best-of-three NL wild-card series.

Five of the seven outs recorded by Smith in the wild-card series came on strikeouts. The left-hander who signed a $40 million, three-year contract with Atlanta in the offseason was shut down at the start of the delayed season after his positive test for the coronavirus.

After missing the summer camp before the shortened season, Smith was behind schedule when he joined the active roster. The two dominant appearances against the Reds, when he gave up no hits or walks, were the best sign that he has finally reached his top form.

"I felt toward the end of the season I was finally starting to click a little bit,' Smith said. "The past two outings, obviously, I finally felt fully back and like myself. I don't know if it was the situation that kind of kicked me in gear or what it was, but it was nice to be able to be out there now and get strike one and strike two and go from there."

Snitker said Smith "has been his best in the most stressful situations."

In a normal season, Smith might have challenged Melancon for the closer's role, as he did when the two were teammates with the San Francisco Giants. Instead, a healthy Smith has added length to an already deep bullpen.

If necessary, Snitker could have a bullpen game against the Marlins, following expected starts by Max Fried, Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright. Snitker said he could use a different reliever each inning "and feel good about all nine we put out there."

Fried went seven innings in Wednesday's 1-0 victory against the Reds, but the Braves wound up using seven relievers in the 13-inning game, with A.J. Minter recording two outs for the win. In Thursday's 5-0 win, Anderson lasted six before Smith, Martin and Melancon each pitched a perfect inning.

With no off days, it will be more difficult for the Game 1 starter to pitch again in the NLDS, although Snitker said it is possible that starter could pitch again on short rest.

Josh Tomlin might be the choice to throw the first pitch if there is a bullpen game. The 35-year-old is a former full-time starter who moved to the bullpen during his time with the Cleveland Indians, and he started five games and worked in relief in 12 others this season. He did not pitch in the wild-card series.

"They haven't told me anything," Tomlin said Saturday. "For now I'm just in the bullpen ready to pitch whenever they ask me to."

Tomlin said the bullpen's dominant showing against the Reds "was one of the best pitching performances I've ever seen in the postseason. The poise they kept and how they went about their business was unbelievable."