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.
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