With four series left in the season, the Braves currently sit three games behind the Phillies in the NL East. You might be able to blame that on a previous collapse, but you can’t fault them lately, as the Braves are coming off a series sweep of the Mets to begin their final road trip. However, the problem is the Phillies have won seven in a row and maintained that three game lead despite a recent surge by the Braves.
With six games remaining between the two, it’s obvious the NL East is still up in the air. I would wager that this week’s series between the two is more important than the final series if only because the present day’s game is the most important at this point. Falling to five or six games back after Wednesday pretty much ends the Braves’ chances of a division crown. Evening up the standings means a whole new ballgame. Regardless, the Braves have a legit shot at the division and the Wild Card is theirs to lose. Lets take a look at what they will be fending off over these last couple weeks.
Following the three-game set with the Braves at home, the Phillies take a day off before resuming their homestand against the Mets. They then take to the road to end their season with three against the Nationals and three against the Braves. Obviously neither the Mets nor the Nationals will scare the Phillies, but it is worth pointing out that the Phillies worked their rotation to have 1-2-3 going against the Braves, meaning 4-5 will face the other two teams often. It may not mean much, but we’ll take anything at this point.
The Giants and Padres flip back and forth for their division lead almost every day, so the Braves have to be watching both. As of Sunday night, the Giants have a half game lead over the Padres. The Giants get the Cubs at Wrigley before facing their true test of three games in Colorado. With how the Rockies are playing, this could either end the Rockies’ season for good and put the Giants in a spot hard to reach, or it could cause mayhem between three teams. The Giants follow with three against the D-Backs at home before ending the season with three against the Padres at home, which could be the deciding series as well. There is no way of knowing the outcome of the Giants’ season until after three in Colorado. Having three teams beat on each other for the remainder of the season is beneficial to the Braves.
The Padres are currently 2.5 games behind the Braves in the Wild Card. Their great collapse is well noted and they seem to be trudging along, trying to make a move. They have three against the Dodgers in L.A. before three against the Reds and four against the Cubs at home. The Reds series could spell their doom. Of course, they have the final series in San Francisco against the Giants. With how they are playing right now, I would not bet on them hanging around for the Giants series, but the Dodgers and Cubs are beatable. As of right now, they are the least threatening in my eyes.
The Rockies sit 3.5 back of the Braves and 1.5 in their own division. We all know their story by now, especially the play of Troy Tulowitzki, and this is causing me to sit uneasy at the moment. They have three in Arizona before three huge games at home against the Giants that will more than likely determine their fate. They follow with three against the Dodgers at home before ending with four on the road against the Cardinals. Of the three, I am most terrified of the Rockies, not just because of them charging toward the Wild Card, but because of having to face them in the playoffs. If there is a team to root against for the remainder of the season, it is the Rockies.
The Braves need the Giants to win the division. It will more than likely mean a Wild Card berth for the Braves, as well as an opponent better suited for the Braves in the playoffs.
While people talk of the final week being the deciding factor for both races, this week may determine it already. The Braves and Phillies, Rockies and Giants, and Padres and Dodgers all square off. The next few days are going to be huge.