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This may be the most crucial homestand of the season for the Braves

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Aside from the final NL East gauntlet to end the season, the next nine games for the Braves are going be absolutely enormous in importance.

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Yesterday’s win for the Braves to end what was — for lack of a better term — a rocky road trip was pretty huge. Part of that is because every win in September during a close divisional race is as good as gold, part of that is because getting a road split at any time in general is really good and the last third is that picking up wins as a road team at Coors Field is pretty impressive this year. Three teams in the NL currently have at least 45 wins at home. All three of those teams are in the West and one of those teams is the Colorado Rockies. They’ve only lost 24 times this season at Coors Field, so the Braves can feel good about themselves knowing that they contributed to two of those 24 losses.

Those two wins also basically saved the road trip for the Braves. Going into what is their first West Coast swing of the season (and it came in September. More on their second trip out West later), I figured that a good road trip would amount to getting at least one win in Los Angeles and then adding at least two in Colorado. They got one part of the job done, as they did indeed pick up a split against the Rockies.

The other part, I can’t really blame them for because the Dodgers are one of those other NL West teams that currently has at least 45 wins at home and Dodger Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Braves for a solid decade now. The Braves didn’t play bad baseball at all during that series against the Dodgers but the defending World Series champions ended up coming away with all three wins because apparently the baseball gods have decided that the Braves will never, ever catch a break at Chavez Ravine.

So yeah, the Braves needed to pick up a couple of wins at Coors Field after that hard-luck series and they got what they needed. It ended up being just enough for the time being — Atlanta’s currently up two games on Philadelphia and three-and-a-half on New York. While the Braves were busy on their annual Pacific-and-Mountain Time Zone swoon, the Mets and the Phillies got to enjoy the pleasures of playing the current incarnations of the Nationals and the Marlins. Philadelphia’s last 10 games have come against Miami, Washington, and Arizona and they went 7-3. The Mets are also 7-3 over their last 10 and are in the midst of a 14-game stretch where they’re playing nobody but the Marlins and the Nationals. Their schedules ended up being just what their doctor ordered, as they’ve taken care of business against the cellar dwellers and played themselves back into contention.

As you can see, the Phillies and Mets have recently gone from being “Down Horrendously” to just being “Down Bad.”
FanGraphs

It’s understandable to be a little frustrated! Just when it seemed like the Braves were ready to take off and leave their divisional opposition in the dust, their fellow crabs in the bucket have clawed them back into the water. However, there’s some good news on the horizon: Remember how the Mets and the Phillies got to play some soft competition for the past two weeks? Well, the Mets will be playing in the Bronx against the Yankees by this upcoming weekend and the Phillies will be starting up a series against the Brewers today.

Meanwhile, the Braves will be playing their next nine games against the Nationals, Marlins and the road version of the Colorado Rockies. As good as Colorado’s home record is, that’s how bad their road record is — if not worse. The Rockies are only 18-50 on the road and only two teams in all of baseball have fewer wins on the road than the Rockies do. Simply put, the Braves must take advantage of this and rack up as many wins as possible during this stretch.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves
We better be seeing a lot of handshakes and high fives from the Braves over this next stretch of games.
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

It’ll be imperative that the Braves really take care of business during these next two weeks because they could be in for another rocky adventure once those games are done. The Braves really drew the short end of the stick because they somehow ended up with their two West Coast road trips happening in the same month. That trip might be even tougher, as the Braves will have three games in San Francisco, four games in Arizona, and three-and-a-half in San Diego. While the Braves could spring a surprise and steal some games in California while taking care of business against the Diamondbacks, I’m certain they would feel a lot better about their chances if they went into that final massive road trip after going on a tear in their penultimate homestand.

The end of that road trip will see the Braves return for their final homestand of the regular season — three games against the Phillies, three games against the Mets. Again, I cannot stress enough just how imperative this upcoming homestand is for the Braves. It could be the difference between the Braves going into those season-ending games (especially that series against Philadelphia) with a nice little buffer or zero room for error. Every game going forward is going to have huge ramifications on the divisional title, so it is absolutely crucial that the Braves make their move starting now.

Ideally, you’d want the Braves to at least win every series during this upcoming homestand. That would at least put them in solid position for the road trip, which they would just need to tread water in that case instead of being forced to pull a rabbit out of a hat at 10 PM local time. These are some incredibly crucial games going forward and we’re going to see what this Braves team is all about as the season comes to an end.

Fortunately for us, the Braves have shown that they’re a resilient bunch time-and-time again over the recent years. Plus, the team has gotten used to being at the top of this division and while it may be one of those intangibles that some of the more analytical-minded fans tend to dislike, there’s just something about knowing how to win. This Braves bunch knows how to win, and they’re going to need to do a lot of it going forward in order to make this trip back to the Postseason as smooth as possible. Let’s get it done, y’all.