With eight NL teams involved, getting the Atlanta Braves to the playoffs is simply a matter of time.
After tonight the Atlanta Braves will have played their 50th game of the season. The metric we need to know for playoff eligibility is this: can the 9th-best National League team have any mathematical chance to pass the Braves with the games they have remaining?
That answer is still ‘Yes’ — but that will likely change in a couple more days.
The Cincinnati Reds are now sitting in the “Also Ran” 9th position right now with a record of 24-26. The Braves are at 29-20.
The best that Cincy can muster is 34-26 and the worst Atlanta can do is 29-30. 5 wins for Atlanta would change that to 35-25, which would be sufficient to ensure they pass the Reds… and even that is a worst-case scenario since there’s still a scrum happening at the bottom of the standings.
At this point, only 2 NL teams have been eliminated: Pittsburgh and Arizona. The next team that can start making off-season vacation plans will be the World Chumpion Nationals — that could happen almost immediately as they one of the 5 MLB teams yet to get to 20 wins.
Of course, the Braves would prefer to win their division, and up to this point, the thought we’ve been hammering all season long is how the schedule favors Atlanta in September.
A funny thing happened along the way… namely on the roads to Baltimore and Miami.
The Orioles got buzzed by the Yankees last week, which made things dicey for their own surprising playoff hopes, but Atlanta is learning first-hand… while experiencing some iffy pitching at times… that the birds aren’t nearly the pushover everyone expected when this Summer season started.
Of more concern is the Marlins — a team with more pitching than hitting, but they’ve already proven to be as scrappy as Baltimore by splitting 6 games with Atlanta.
Suddenly, the 4-game set coming up next week looms much more important.
Here’s the breakdown of remaining games for the teams of interest:
ATLANTA (29-20 entering play Wednesday)
- 3 in New York vs. Mets (Peterson, Wacha, Porcello scheduled… but Wacha just took over for deGrom early tonight)
- 4 in Atlanta vs. Miami (Rogers, Urena, Sanchez, Lopez)
- 3 in Atlanta vs. Boston (doesn’t really matter who pitches for them)
- The Mets are fading and the Braves could eliminate them from the playoff picture; Boston is already done. Miami still has meaningful games.
MIAMI (24-22 entering play Wednesday)
- 1 more in Miami vs. Boston after tonight (winning big tonight)
- 5 in Miami vs. Washington
- 4 in Atlanta vs. Braves
- 3 in New York vs. Yankees
- Miami’s problem is twofold: their opponents and their packed schedule: 13 more games in 11 days. Advantage, Braves.
PHILADELPHIA (24-23 entering play Wednesday)
- 1 more in Philly vs. Mets (leading 4-3; deGrom only went 2 innings due to injury)
- 4 vs. Toronto (1 in Buffalo; 3 in Philly)
- 4 in Washington vs. Washington
- 3 in St. Pete vs. Tampa Bay
- The Marlins’ schedule is worse, but not by much: 12 games with two doubleheaders. Never mind the opponents. Never mind the huge spate of significant injuries they’ve just experienced.
Overall… the original narrative is still good: the Atlanta Braves can cruise to the division title while taking the opportunity to get their starting pitching lined up and stretched out.
The Braves may have lucked into suddenly having enough pitching to work with, but even as Fried, Anderson, Hamels, Wright, and Ynoa all are suddenly showing the promise of being very helpful in October… we truly can’t count on that until we get there…
… because “2020”.