(UPDATED at 3:25 p.m. below with news that rookie pitcher Brandon Beachy will replace starter Jair Jurrjens tonight.)
I’ve never really been a numbers guy, but sometimes in baseball there are numbers that can’t be avoided.
These for example: The Braves are three games back of Philadelphia in the National League East going into tonight’s series opener between the teams. They play the Phillies again in the final weekend of the season.
Simple math says if the Braves don’t win at least four out of the six games against Philly, they will have to make up the minimum-three-game deficit in the other six games. That’s not likely to happen.
The Phillies have the pitching advantage in every game in this series: Cole Hamels (3-0, 0.44 in his last five starts) vs. Jair Jurrjens (11 earned runs, 19 hits in his last two) tonight; Roy Halladay vs. Mike Minor Tuesday and Roy Oswalt vs. Tommy Hanson Wednesday.
(UPDATE: The Braves just announced prospect Brandon Beachy will make his major league debut tonight in place of Jurrjens, who has a sore knee. This probably isn’t the way they wanted to go into this series. It means the Braves will be starting rookies on back to back nights: Beachy and Minor.)
The Braves are still in decent shape in the wild card race, with leads of 2 1/2 games over San Diego and 3 1/2 over Colorado. But the team they need to worry about the most may be the Rockies.
Below, I’ve listed the standings at the top of the National League East and West Divisions, as well as the wild card race. I’ve also listed the remaining schedule for each of the five teams involved, as well as what each team has done against their remaining opponents this season. Those five teams are listed in order of winning percentage against the opponents.
Finally, I’ve listed how each potential postseason team has fared of late. This is where the Phillies and Rockies really stand out. Even the Braves’ three-game sweep of the New York Mets over the weekend didn’t change the picture much.
Take a look:♦ East W-L GB Phillies 89-61 — Braves 86-64 3 ♦
Bottom line: I think the Braves need to go at least 9-3 to make it to the postseason, if Colorado continues to play near this pace. The other wild card (no pun intended) is what happens if the Rockies win the West. The Braves would be battling the Giants and Padres for the last playoff spot.
So what do you think of the Braves’ chances? I’ve also put up a poll asking the question: How many games of the remaining 12 do the Braves need to win to make the playoffs?