Back on August 10th I wrote a post proclaiming that the "next three weeks were critical" for the Atlanta Braves. In that post I stated that the Braves needed to win 11 out of 15 to remain in serious competition for a playoff berth. That stretch included 2 games against the Nationals, 3 against the Phillies at home, 1 against the Diamondbacks, 3 against the Mets, 3 against the Marlins, and 3 against the Padres. So did the Braves win what they needed to win? No, but they came mighty close, winning 9 out of those 15 games, but in this tight of a race for the playoffs coming close might not be good enough.
As poorly as the Braves have played over the last two series, they're not totally out of it. Of the remaining 32 games the Braves will play this year, 19 of them are against teams with records below .500 -- that's 6 more games against sub-.500 teams than against teams with records better than .500. How about the rest of the teams in the NL playoff race:
|Teams||No. of games remaining
against teams over .500
|No. of games remaining
against teams under .500
We have a favorable record when compared to that of the Giants and the Marlins, but the Rockies have the baseball equivalent of a cake walk the rest of the way. Yes, they've been playing poorly lately, but they have the kind of remaining schedule where they can make up ground quick or easily maintain their lead.
The Phillies also have a schedule that should help them easily maintain their lead atop the NL East. They do have two double-headers -- one against the Mets and the other against the Marlins -- and they have only two off-days in September, so fatigue could become a factor.
Both the Marlins and the Giants are two teams that Atlanta must overcome in the Wild Card race, and both of them have unfavorable records the rest of the way. Their strong schedule and our weaker schedule could help us overtake them.
From August 10th to today, the Braves have made up only half a game in the Wild Card chase. Back then they were 4.0 games out, today they are 3.5 games out. During that time the Cubs have fallen in back of Atlanta and the Marlins have fallen even, so that cuts out some of the competition in front of Atlanta, and once again the Braves have an opportunity to cut even more of that competition out when they play the Marlins for four games. It seems like the last three times Atlanta has played them each team has had the same record.
It can't be said enough that the Braves need to win more of these remaining games than they lose (holy crap, even two innings of listening to Joe Morgan has me talking like him). They have the schedule in their favor, they just need to execute on the field. There are some folks who are saying the Braves don't really have a chance, but as long as their starting pitching holds together, there is still a chance. It would also help if Chipper Jones started hitting like, well, Chipper Jones... but that's another topic entirely.