Can Braves catch Phillies in East? Schedule says yes

The streaking Dan Uggla (22-game hitting streak) and Braves can still catch the Phillies. (Hyosub Shun/AJC)

The streaking Dan Uggla and Braves can still catch the Phillies. (Hyosub Shun/AJC)

The Braves acquired Michael Bourn from Houston with the hope that they not only can make the playoffs but possibly compete for a World Series. Winning the National League East over Philadelphia would be a good start — and the chances of that happening are far from dead.

Going into tonight, the Braves (63-46) have played two more games than the Phillies (68-39) and trail them by six games. They are seven back in the loss column. Simple math: Even if Philadelphia goes only 30-25 the rest of the way, the Braves would need to go 35-18 (.660) just to tie them and force a one-game playoff.

Here's how Coolstandings.com has tracked Braves' postseason chances. The red line represents playoffs chances, the black wild card chances and the blue division chances.

Coolstandings.com on Braves' postseason chances: Red line represents playoffs, black wild card chances, blue division.

Coolstandings.com currently lists Philadelphia as having an 86.6 percent chance of winning the division, followed by the Braves at 13.0,  New York at 0.3, and Florida and Washington at less than 0.1 each.

The chart on the left illustrates things nicely, assuming it doesn’t give you a headache.

But there are some factors in the Braves’ favor the rest of the way.

♦ I looked at the National League standings and considered eight teams still in the postseason chase: Braves, Phillies, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Arizona, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. The only stretch there might be the Reds. But while they’re out of the wild card race,  they’re only 6½ back in the Central and just swept the Giants. The Braves still have 16 games scheduled against the above teams: 6 vs. Philadelphia; 4 vs. San Francisco; 3 vs. Arizona; 3 vs. St. Louis). The Phillies have 25 games left against playoff contenders: 6 vs. Braves; 4 vs. San Francisco; 3 vs. Arizona; 4 vs. Milwaukee; 4 vs. St. Louis; 4 vs. Cincinnati.

♦ The Braves have 53 games remaining: 25 at home, 28 on the road. The Phillies have 55 games left: 24 at home, 31 on the road.

♦ The beat-who-they’re-supposed-to-beat thing hasn’t always panned out for the Braves. But they have 27 games left against the three East also-rans: Mets, Marlins and Nationals. The Phillies have 21 against them.

♦ Of the worst four teams in the N.L. (Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago Houston), the Phillies play six games against the Astros and Dodgers, but the Braves play 10 against the Cubs and Dodgers.

Finally, remember that the regular season will end with Philadelphia coming to Turner Field for a weekend series Sept. 26-28.

All of this certainly paints a picture that the Braves can still make a run and win the division.

What do you think? Can they do it, or will it be back to the postseason as a wildcard?

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

368 comments Add your comment

CHIEF NOCAHOMA

August 1st, 2011
11:06 am

LET’S GO BRAVOS!

Sean

August 1st, 2011
11:08 am

Lookin’ like a Wild Card team right now. The Phillies are steamrolling everyone.

Mike

August 1st, 2011
11:09 am

As long as they get in, I’m not really concerned about the division. I mean, 14 straight flags was enough, wasn’t it? Though, it would feel good to rub it in Phillies’ fans faces and talk about how we beat them out with a payroll of a 100 million dollar less than theirs.

If they can get healthy, grab another piece through waiver trade, things should be looking up. After all, we have a new CF!

MURF4HOF

August 1st, 2011
11:12 am

plenty of time left

Herschel Talker

August 1st, 2011
11:14 am

Schultzie:

We aint catching the Phils, but it don’t matter. Get the wild card, and we can win this thing regardless.

HT

Ricardo

August 1st, 2011
11:16 am

Health, health and more health. Then, it’s all about playing well at the right time. I’m one of those that looked at what Texas did, getting a really nice RH RP from TWO different teams (Balt n S.D.) and wondering what they wanted from us for those pieces…some bench help would be nice.

All in all, if we, IF we get and stay healthy, we can make some noise with what we have…

peacengrits75

August 1st, 2011
11:17 am

I’ll be happy with the wild card, but a division crown would be sweet too…Can’t wait to see this line up tonight…

peacengrits75

August 1st, 2011
11:18 am

Steve

August 1st, 2011
11:18 am

At this point, the Braves just need to get into the playoffs. Unless something catastrophic happens, they will likely be there.

The Braves really need Heyward to start hitting. Maybe Uggla can give him some tips on a hitting approach after an abysmal few months. Dan has certainly turned it around — it’s frankly amazing that he’s over .200 at this point.

The Braves could also use another reliever. Hopefully, Moylan will be able to make it back for the stretch run in September.

Escaped from Email Purgatory

August 1st, 2011
11:20 am

A division title is pretty meaningless. Being the best team of five really doesn’t amount to diddly. The Braves proved that time and again.

I hope they don’t concede the division to Philly though. You never know what might happen.

Phillies fan

August 1st, 2011
11:20 am

Keep dreaming. The Phillies are playing about .630 ball over their last 18o games, just added Hunter Pence and Oswalt is coming back in 5 days.

If the Phillies finish just 35-2o that would give them 1o3 wins and the Braves would have to go 4o-13 just to tie the Phillies.

Phillies fan

August 1st, 2011
11:23 am

How can you say a Division title is meaningless? This year it is huge because the Wild Card will most likely have to play on the road against SF in round one.

Runner-

August 1st, 2011
11:24 am

Cut this statistical crap. If the Braves get hot and get healthy, they will catch the Phils

01HAWK

August 1st, 2011
11:24 am

Phillies fan ………………………………GO TROLL on your own blog. Get outta here.

chc4

August 1st, 2011
11:25 am

What on earth makes anyone believe the Braves would catch the Phillies? And please don’t say the schedule. We have losing records vs the Nats and Mets. We struggled against Padres. I’m a Braves fan but we just need to worry about the wild card.

DawginLex

August 1st, 2011
11:28 am

Braves aren’t going to catch Philly unless they have some pitching go down because of injury. I would neve hope for injury to another team just so my team can win.

Braves need to get Bourn worked in to the new Braves and let’s start stealing some bases and generating some runs the old cardinals way.

Another couple of runs a game with this pitching and this team is really good.

Then in the playoffs, you are dealing with a Braves team that has only been together for 50 or so games which will be a different team than the 1st 110 games.

wildcard

August 1st, 2011
11:28 am

I hate to say it, but it’s is the wildcard. We have a better chance of missing the playoffs altogether than winning the division.

Most likely scenario is still the wild card.

Runner-

August 1st, 2011
11:29 am

If Braves can get within 3 by the last series, they have a chance to win the division title, no matter how slim. The Braves can easily make up 3 games on the Phils with 2 months to go, especially with our injured players due back and with the acquisition of Bourn. Very possible, so stop being a skeptic and cheer your team on

Squeaky

August 1st, 2011
11:29 am

Noway Broves catch Phillips noway Broves win a playoff series 3 or 4 games and Atlanta Braves go home there is a reason ATL is loserville

Danny O

August 1st, 2011
11:31 am

I agree w/Phillies fan. Having home field advantage is big in the playoffs, especially in the first round.

O'Brien

August 1st, 2011
11:33 am

Can they? Yes. Will they? I don’t think so.

Despite having the tougher schedule, I like the Phillies pitchers over ours (they are tested and proven), and with the new addition of Pence, I think their offense will be ok.

Even with Bourn, we still don’t do a good job of getting guys over and getting them in, plus I think Chipper will be in and out of the lineup for the rest of the season.

I think Braves will win the WC, but advance to the NLCS against the Phills.

Charlies Hayes

August 1st, 2011
11:34 am

Gonna be fun tonight to watch Constanza and Bourne in the lineup. Atlanta has been missing the base stealing havoc creating fast man the past few years. We have been relying on good pitching and long balls for way too much time. It will be fun watching these guys play small ball to generate runs. I hope they bat in this order tonight….Bourne, Constanza, Prado, Freeman, Uggla, Ross, Heyward, Gonzo and Jurrjens.

The Bream Team

August 1st, 2011
11:35 am

2 Question for Schulzie:

1) Will Bourn wear #1?

2) How elated is Michael Bourn that he gets to attend the Bobby Cox luncheon/retirement ceremony?

Joey

August 1st, 2011
11:36 am

Maybe Bourn can steal home – cause nobody is driving in RISP right now.

I did enjoy Constanza this weekend. Love to see a guy hustling. I hope he gets to stay.

Rob

August 1st, 2011
11:40 am

sure we can…the easiet way to do it is to get their lead down to 2 or 3 games from other teams beating them, then take 4 of 6 from them in the head-to-head series.

we have to win games like yesterday. we have given away at least 10-15 games this year. the braves have to go on a major winning streak NOW not later. this .500 baseball thing will not even get us a wildcard bid.

note to tommy hanson: get your head in the game or you may not even be one of the 3 pitchers in the play-off series. hanson is not pitching better than JJ, Hudson, or even Beachy right now.

longtime bulldog

August 1st, 2011
11:41 am

However it turns out it will be fun watching it unfold.Go Braves

Elvis the Peacock

August 1st, 2011
11:41 am

Phillies have a much better team, which means they’ll win the division. However, having the better team doesn’t mean anything in the playoffs (see Braves 1991-2005). To the wild card . . . and beyond!

Rob

August 1st, 2011
11:41 am

As to the play-off advantage…..the braves swept the giants on the ROAD this year and are one of the best road teams in baseball. not a prob for this bunch.

Mike

August 1st, 2011
11:42 am

Best two RISP hitters are hurt, is why. Chipper’s numbers are mediocre but was hitting really well with RISP. Near .400, i believe. that would be mind boggling with bourn as the leadoff guy.

Rob

August 1st, 2011
11:43 am

@runner- exactly. it is certainly doable. HOWEVER, we can’t stop pissing away chances by losing every time the phillies lose.

Charlies Hayes

August 1st, 2011
11:44 am

Colleague of mine just asked why I wanted Freeman bating clean-up and not Uggla. Simple. Uggla is only 1 for 16 versus Livan Hernandez since 2009. Freeman is 1 for 3 against him. Hernandez also is a Slider/Sinker guy. Freeman is good at defending the plate on a down and in pitch. Uggla is only good at hitting hanging sliders…..I hope that helps Chester……

Marteen is a Ballplayer

August 1st, 2011
11:45 am

I don’t like our chances of catching the Phillies at all. They are just good. Pittsburgh split a series with us and not one game was easy. They decimated Pittsburgh until the last game and then rallied to win that. The Phillies remind me of the Braves when we were built for a marathon year. While not impossible, highly unlikely to catch the Phillies. Better chance for the Angles to catch the Yankees for a wildcard.

The silver lining? We can line-up toe-to-toe with the Phillies. Get us into a NLCS against them and I like our chances. A true coin-flip in my opinion.

Fightins

August 1st, 2011
11:45 am

It’s nice to dream. But no, the Braves aren’t going to catch the Phillies.

Kentavo

August 1st, 2011
11:50 am

I don’t care as long as Philly gets a first-round matchup with SF.

Braves95

August 1st, 2011
11:51 am

Again, it’s getting “in” that matters. Yes, playing the NL Central winner IN Atlanta vs. starting the Playoffs IN San Francisco, there’s a difference. But the Braves were a shell of this team when we went to SF last year. We will be a lot better.

The one key the rest of this season is Tommy Hanson. Since the All Star game, he’s been a run+ worse than the first half. We need to see the unhittable Tommy to have a chance.

iTiSi

August 1st, 2011
11:52 am

Charlie Hayes, agree with your lineup except for one thing. Would pull a page from the LaRussa playbook, and put Constanza in at #9 and move Jurrgens to #8. That would make for some interesting scenarios later in the game. I’m wondering too if the Washington ground crew has the capabilities to smooth out the infield dirt in between innings? If both Bourn and Constanza get on at the same time and start wreaking havoc, there may be some trenches and potholes that need to be repaired and worked on. Wouldn’t surprise me either but what they “water down” around first base real good before the game. That’s an old trick that has been around awhile.

Kevin

August 1st, 2011
11:52 am

They have nine games left against the Nationals. IF they sweep the them this series there is a shot to catch the Phillies. The last few years have shown that that if is a HUGE if.
It is a huge deal to win the division but making the playoffs is important too cause if you ain’t in it you ain’t got a chance.

Got to like that the Phillies still have to play the Giants (4 games), St. Louis (4) and Milwaukee and Milwaukee and St. Louis are going to be battling each other for the NL Central.

Did you see the sweet scheduling the Phillies got, a day game in LA with an off day before having to play a night game at home vs the Nationals. If the Braves could only get so lucky on a west coast trip for traveling.

Puma

August 1st, 2011
11:55 am

they CAN do it, but unfortunately the Phillies just keep winning. Even when we got to within 3 games (I think that’s the closest we’ve been in a while) it was after we went like 9-1 and the went 7-3 in the previous 10. Obviously we cannot sustain that, but they can sustain a .600 – .700 winning %.

Its unlikely unless Phils start to suddenly play .500, but even then…

Rob

August 1st, 2011
11:55 am

bottom line is this: braves have to win against crappy teams then beat the phillies when they play them in sept. we can def gain a couple of games on them til then. hell, if we had played half-way decent ball this week we would be 4 games back today.

OldFan

August 1st, 2011
11:57 am

WC it is for the Braves. As you say, the beat-who-they’re-supposed-to-beat thing doesn’t seem to hold for the Braves. They’ll keep the Phillies looking over their shoulders, but the Phillies are the better team and are unlikely to have a long dry spell unless they have a very bad run of injuries, or the Braves figure out what to do with RISP.

Dr. Phil

August 1st, 2011
11:58 am

The Braves might catch the Phillies, but had better watch out for Arizona and the Cards.

hmmm

August 1st, 2011
11:58 am

We have to stand up to Philly and punch them in the mouth. Then when they punch back, we just need to punch them again. It’s going to be a war but we must show them we’re not afraid and we will fight tooth and nail to win this division. Go Braves!

Real American

August 1st, 2011
11:59 am

We need Chief Nocahoma……………….

oldmike

August 1st, 2011
12:03 pm

I am glad to see the Barvos add speed with Bourn. I really thought a change in manager would usher in a change in approach to scoring runs. But so far no way Jose. Does this team ever squueze bunt? Let’s hope we are “bourn again” down the stretch. And please let’s play some small ball.

Chase Utley

August 1st, 2011
12:04 pm

@hmmmm… this isnt a boxing match. And why does the picture caption say the braves are streaking? they just lost. and are 5-5 in their last 10. By those standards at least half the MLB is streaking. all Braves fans say they same thing each blog entry but the braves just keep falling behind. and @Kevin, im sure we could go around and find some scheduling problems for us too, why are you such a whiner?

Mister Frisky

August 1st, 2011
12:05 pm

Everyone was so geeked about the Bourn deal seems they gave the Braves a pass on another pathetic offensive display and I do mean offensive.1 run on 13 hits.Bourn is a very good player but it would take Jesus to overtake the Phillies.WC the bet,get on a roll in Sept.Take your chances at Philly in October.

ramond

August 1st, 2011
12:06 pm

we need to go at least 7-2 on this road trip,anything less would be a choke.

dean

August 1st, 2011
12:06 pm

1st and 3rd. Nobody out. At least ONE run must get home. That was a maddening game yesterday. Gotta win those or sit at home.

ramond

August 1st, 2011
12:08 pm

the cards lost to the cubs,and sf got swept by cincy ,please if we get to wildcard,braves will beat sf

To Chase Utley

August 1st, 2011
12:10 pm

Can you say metaphor? Sure you can.