ATLANTA — For Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell, the decision to have Freddy Peralta start Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves was easy.
Counsell said he considered no other options on the mound for Monday's matchup, although he didn't reveal his pick until Sunday.
"Freddy was the starter," Counsell said. "That was the plan from probably July."
The best-of-five series is tied at one game apiece as it moves from Milwaukee to Atlanta, where the Braves will counter with Ian Anderson in the 1:07 p.m. Eastern game that will be televised by TBS.
Both right-handers returned from stints on the injured list to feel healthy entering the playoffs. For the 25-year-old Peralta, it will be the first postseason start of his MLB career.
"It means a lot for me," he said after the Brewers' light workout Sunday at Truist Park.
Peralta's lone postseason experience to date is three scoreless innings of relief in the Brewers' 2-1 loss in 13 innings to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the 2018 NL Championship Series. The Dodgers went on to win that NLCS, which went all seven games, but now Peralta will have the chance to help the NL Central Division champions bounce back from Saturday's 3-0 loss to Atlanta.
"I know it's going to be a great experience," he said. "As a player I always dreamed of this kind of moment, because I always watched these kinds of games."
Peralta won his only start against the Braves this season, pitching six scoreless innings in a 10-9 win in Milwaukee on May 16. The right-hander was 10-5 with a 2.81 ERA in the regular season.
Peralta was on the 10-day injured list from Aug. 19 to Sept. 2 with right shoulder inflammation. He was 1-2 with a 4.70 ERA in five September starts and has not pitched in almost two weeks since his most recent start on Sept. 26.
"I've been working these last few days," Peralta said.
That work included warming up in the bullpen in the eighth inning on Friday, when the Brewers won the series opener 2-1.
"For me, that helped a lot because my arm felt a lot better after that day," Peralta said.
The 23-year-old Anderson, announced Saturday as Atlanta's Game 3 starter, has the edge over Peralta in postseason experience. He is 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA in four postseason games. He started in Game 7 of last season's NLCS loss to the Dodgers, allowing two runs in three innings.
"I think I'll be a little bit more comfortable," Anderson said. "There's not going to be those first-time nerves kind of because I did go through it last year. And I got that experience. So I think it's going to be just channeling that energy from the crowd and not getting too overhyped."
Anderson was 9-5 with a 3.58 ERA this season. A highlight came when he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of a 5-1 win in Milwaukee on May 15. He was on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation from July 16 to Aug. 19.
Anderson said he had "a little slower progression than I wanted" after returning from the IL, but he carries momentum into the postseason. He allowed only a combined three runs while winning his last two starts against Arizona Diamondbacks and the Philadelphia Phillies.
He allowed two runs in six innings in the Braves' 5-3 home win over the Phillies on Sept. 30, which clinched Atlanta's fourth consecutive NL East title.
"I think just the experience that Ian's had in his short major league career is going to fend for him well," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He's been on the biggest stage, Game 7 in NLCS. That's pretty good for a young age. And how he handled himself was extraordinary, I thought."
The Brewers' bullpen is missing right-hander Devin Williams and left-hander Brent Suter, who has a strained right oblique. Suter participated in light throwing Sunday and has a chance to return to the active roster if Milwaukee advances to the NLCS.
"We're thinking of a progression that would have him ready for the next series," Counsell said. "... He's had two good days and on to the next day."
Williams fractured his throwing hand when he punched a wall the night the Brewers clinched the division title.