Forget the Phillies. The Braves’ chief target is now Milwaukee

And here we thought Georgia's Pro Combat helmets were garish. (AP photo)

And here we thought Georgia's Nike Pro Combat helmets were over the top. (AP photo)

For the Braves, four regular-season dates with Philadelphia remain. They don’t matter. Nothing that happens now will have any impact on October. There’s no “psychological advantage” to be gained by either side — this is baseball, where everything starts anew the next day — and there’s no realistic way the Braves can catch the Phillies to claim the National League’s top seed. All  the Braves can do these next three weeks is try to get healthy.

And try to prepare themselves for Milwaukee. In October, the Brewers figure to come first.

The National League playoff grid has been all but set for a while: The Phillies will play Arizona, which trails the Brewers by 3 1/2 games in the overall league standings, in the Division Series, while the Braves get Milwaukee.The Brewers shouldn’t be taken lightly. They can hit — they’ve out-homered the Braves, which only one other NL club has done — and their pitching has been the best in baseball since the All-Star break.

That’s correct. Better than Philly’s. Better than San Fran’s. Better than the Braves’ by a full earned run a game. The Brewers’ post-All Star ERA is 2.89 to Atlanta’s 3.90.

Given the depleted state of the Braves’ rotation — Tommy Hanson is still on the disabled list, and Jair Jurrjens might not be ready when the postseason begins — the Brewers’ starting now appear the more solid bunch.Yovani Gallardo, Zach Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf aren’t to be confused with Halladay, Hamels, Lee and Oswalt, but who is? Each of those four Brewers has won at least a dozen games, and each has an ERA of 4.00 or better.

With Hanson and Jurrjens in flux, the Brewers have the better rotation. The Braves stand to have the edge in the bullpen, but if you’re down 5-1 after six innings the bullpen won’t matter much. And there’s one thing more.

Games 1, 2 and 5 of the best-of-five will be played in Milwaukee. The Brewers have the best home record in baseball. (They’re below .500 on the road, though.) Of all teams, the Braves should know that home-field advantage in October isn’t always an advantage — from 2002 through 2005, they lost four consecutive Division Series in which they held the supposed home-field edge — but the relative brevity of the Division Series leaves less room to recover. Fall behind 2-0 and you’re facing elimination.

At full capacity, these Braves would be a difficult postseason opponent for any club, Philadelphia included. Without Jurrjens and/or Hanson, their capacity would be greatly diminished. Owing to the odd nature of the National League standings, September has been rendered essentially another round of exhibition games. Winning now is of no real importance. All that matters is that a team get in position to win later.

By Mark Bradley

173 comments Add your comment

EW

September 7th, 2011
7:53 am

Mark Bradley

September 7th, 2011
7:58 am

EW is kudo’ed.

Rufino Linares

September 7th, 2011
7:59 am

Not sure what is going on with this bunch MB. Kind of concern after last nights performance. This does not remind me of a team preparing for the playoffs….and numero uno btw

J Clay

September 7th, 2011
8:09 am

Good thing ole Chip ran his mouth huh?

Jell

September 7th, 2011
8:16 am

Yep and these chokers are about to get whacked out of the playoffs once again. It’s funny how it all starts falling apart for these chokers.

Curious George

September 7th, 2011
8:17 am

With nude Barbara Dooley stories one day and Beerfests the next, is Mark Bradley now targeting his blog for the “PARTY” crowd of the sports world?

Cripes

September 7th, 2011
8:19 am

r you kidding? you think the phillies humiliating the braves in these final; few games doesn’t matter? you’re an idiot. you think the braves aren’t trying to show them they can win. just be lucky you wont have to play philly in round 1 cause it would looks just like these games this week.

QB

September 7th, 2011
8:23 am

Same Old Braves will not win world series this year.

Curious George

September 7th, 2011
8:23 am

Mark,

Are you more hated by the organizers of the “third-tier” Chick-fil-a Bowl, those of the “third-RATE” Chick-fil-a Kickoff Classic or the owners of the overpriced Chick-fil-a stands at Turner Field?

Craig Skoak

September 7th, 2011
8:26 am

Release Lowe.

Mark Bradley

September 7th, 2011
8:28 am

I’m hated by one and all. Although I love Chick-fil-A and its products.

Icepack

September 7th, 2011
8:31 am

Playoffs? Double-digits behind the best team in baseball? Boring team. Over-rated pitching staff has gone numb. It’s fun to watch the Phillies dismiss this team on the field as irrelevant in the overall scheme of things. Listening to the Braves on radio has been an addiction for me since 1967…until this year. I don’t see any chemistry. Mainly, the series with LA and this fiasco with Philly has worn me down. I think the “homers” on 680 are on crack. I now try to find the other team’s coverage on radio. I can’t watch the Braves on TV. One look at the faces of this team sleep walking through September would finish me off.

Roger

September 7th, 2011
8:31 am

There’s nothing odd about the nature of the NL standings. If the MLB powers that be would just look back at history, they’d see that the more playoff spots you have, especially of the wild card variety, the fewer meaningful races you will have.

Mark Bradley

September 7th, 2011
8:37 am

This just in: Nobody is guaranteed a World Series title, not even the Phillies. A year ago at this time, would you have picked San Francisco and Texas to win pennants?

dawg4u

September 7th, 2011
8:38 am

Jurrjens and Hanson were pitching well before the all star break but both were really struggling after due to injuries. The Phillies are better even with our starters at full strength and their starting eight scores more runs and is better defensively. The way our starters have been since the break makes both the Phillies and Brewers a lot better and probably the D’backs. I hope Chipper’s claim that the Braves are the team to beat the Phillies proves true but nothing I have seen from this team lately would indicate that.

JSS

September 7th, 2011
8:41 am

Where’s fearless leader Jones? The mouth of the Texas Bambi slayer has spoken! It is like watching that stupid video when that dumb American Antelope attacks back, poor Hoss!!!

JIM

September 7th, 2011
8:48 am

The games are meaningful to both teams. Ask Chipper Jones

Herschel Talker

September 7th, 2011
8:49 am

MB:

I wouldn’t go so far to say September doesn’t matter. If we lose tonight to Philly, lose part of the doubleheader to the Mets, and get swept in St. Louis, the race will become very tight. If we can win 2 of 3 in St. Louis, then I think you have an argument.

Oh, and by the way, Chipper needs to shut his loud, redneck trap and just play ball.

FIRE MARK RICHT!!!

HT

Mr. Obvious

September 7th, 2011
8:50 am

The ONLY way the 2011 Phillies could lose the World Series is if Charlie Manuel pulls a “Ted Kennedy” on some young girl (or boy), is subsequently fired by the Phillies and the team replaces him for the postseason with either Bobby Cox or Mark Richt.

TE

September 7th, 2011
8:50 am

Mark-
We better worry about getting into the playoffs right now, then worrying about the Brewers. Do you not see the Cardinals are 7.5 behind and if they can somehow get this to 6.5 or 5.5 with this weekend series and sweep us, we are down to a 2.5 or 3.5 game lead. We are playing horrible baseball 3-6 in our last 9, that is not a recipe for post-season baseball right now. Don’t have us in the playoffs just yet. We are hitting and pitching like a sub .500 team.

Cripes

September 7th, 2011
8:55 am

You should know better than anyone bradley that what happened last year is what is called an anomaly. it happens very rarely. so with that said, i would be willing to bet you 500 that philly wins the nl pennant. are you a taker? of course not.

ASHCAN.

September 7th, 2011
8:59 am

Mark,a year ago is just what it was,a year ago.

Johnny

September 7th, 2011
8:59 am

Mark
For what team was cliff lee pitching in the post season last year? For what team will he be pitching this year. Nuff said

Gatorman

September 7th, 2011
9:01 am

September is not important? What have you been drinking? If the Braves go on a 7-8 game losing streak (1-3 LA) plus being swept by Phillies, then they are vulnerable to being overtaken for the wild card spot the rest of the way. With two starters out, will they even win a third of their remaining games?

ATLBadger

September 7th, 2011
9:07 am

Looking forward to seeing the Brew Crew in Atlanta in October!

Steve

September 7th, 2011
9:08 am

It is not given the Braves will make the playoffs the way they are playing. They face tough pitcher in St. Louis this weekend. I see the ship sinking.

DC

September 7th, 2011
9:09 am

less baseball more football talk..please and thank you!

mikemac

September 7th, 2011
9:12 am

I totally disagree about it not mattering, there is a advantage to winning now. Could the Braves overcome that, for sure, will they I doubt it. This Philly team was good before they got Pence and Mayberry started to rake now they are very tough and getting healthier. Braves not so much pitching is beat up and although the offense is better starting pitching starts it all. You are right though you better worry about the Brew Crew, I am a Phils fan and I am. They are good offensively and good starting pitching, not sure there pen stacks up to the Braves and Phils but still very good team. Looking forward to the post season and I think the Phils starters, pen and offense will make them a lot for anyone to handle this year.

Swamp Fox

September 7th, 2011
9:17 am

Just praying for Arizona to end up with better record than the Brewers, which at 3 1/2 games is certaily possible

10-1 lead after three

September 7th, 2011
9:18 am

The main thing the Braves have going for them once the playoffs start: No Bobby Cox.

Heisenberg

September 7th, 2011
9:19 am

Gatorman, if Braves win 1/3 of remaning games (7-14) that puts them at 89 wins. Cards or Giants would have to go 14-6 to tie. Not impossible, but I would rather be in Braves shoes than Cards or Giants.

Dr. Phil

September 7th, 2011
9:21 am

In the 1990’s, the Braves were best when they were emotional. We need some big wins against the Phillies to get the emotion going and carry it into the post season. Otherwise it will be a very short October.

longtimefan

September 7th, 2011
9:22 am

Mark,
I didn’t realize you had closed comments to Braves fans. Why do all these Philly fans visit AJC? If you pessimistic nansayers think so little of the team you supposedly root for, just quit watching. Fifth best record in baseball with virtual lock on wild card with 3 weeks to go is not good enough for you grippers. I’ll bet diehard Cardinal or Cub fans would love to be in our position right now.

Braves Fan 80

September 7th, 2011
9:23 am

Baseball needs a hard cap of 120 million so teams like the sox, yanks, and phills couldn’t buy a championship.

Henry D.

September 7th, 2011
9:25 am

Right now the Braves need to be concerned with the next base hit, the next grounder, and the next pitch. Right now they can’t hit, can’t field and can’t pitch worth a flip. I knew 2 weeks ago when everyone started with this “we have the wild card sewn up, noone can catch the Braves now” crap, that they would do just like last year when everyone started the we can’t lose now stuff. The Braves are masters at blowing leads, going the tank and playing like they just don’t care, which is what they are doing right now.

Fredi is too much like Bobby and the attitude of the team is still the same as it was when Bobby was here.

Brewers in 4

September 7th, 2011
9:25 am

Milwaukee’s home atmosphere is simply electric…I went to a game at Miller Park vs. the Twins earlier this year…and their lineup is lethal. I love the Braves direction, but none of our starters have dominant stuff. Brewers in 4.

El Bravo

September 7th, 2011
9:26 am

People love to overreact around here. The Braves are still the second best team in the NL. Losing twice to the Phillies at their park is nothing to be ashamed of. The key for the Braves will be for our starting pitching to stop giving up early leads and to get us to the pen with the game still on the line. Our chances of making it to the WS remain the same, which is to say we have a puncher’s chance…

Spoondivy

September 7th, 2011
9:28 am

Prediction: braves lose tonight to phillies…drop two tomorrow to the mets, and fall out of wildcard lead with 3 game sweep at st.louis. Signed…phillies fan in atlanta.

Just get in

September 7th, 2011
9:29 am

If the braves go 10-11 in the final 21 the cards would have to go 17-3 in their final 20 to end tied at 92 wins, no matter what they do head to head against the cards that is still a lot of ground to make up. but go 8-6 in the remaining 14 games with the mets, marlins, nats and then just 2-5 vs the cards and phillies. I know they could do worse or the cards could go 18-2 but I still like our chances, just get in the playoffs and everything starts over, I don’t think in baseball their is as much carry over as in other sports due to the length of the regular season.

bulldogbubba

September 7th, 2011
9:30 am

So are we gonna be proud if they play mediocre ball till the end of the season.If that is the best they can do then it is 3 and out in the playoffs. GO DOGS!

DC

September 7th, 2011
9:31 am

“Brewers in 4″…how many players on that squad has been in the playoffs?

Spoondivy

September 7th, 2011
9:31 am

Braves…ha ha ha choke artists

Noholdsbarred

September 7th, 2011
9:32 am

Without a doubt, they (Braves) will be tipping their hat to everyone the rest of the year! A manager has to fire his team up and FG has no idea how to do that! I thought he was a good hire to replace BC but he has shown nothing but dumb managerial moves all year. From sitting on his rear while his pitcher is being hammered, to all of a sudden not using his best options in the lineup properly. If ANYONE, including your BEST hitter is not getting it done, drop him down or OUT of the lineup and move the ones that ARE hitting up. No one should have a SET position in the order just because he is a veteran or a STAR. Heck, if there’s a player in the minors that’s doing the job, get him and ride him until he no longer can carry the load. Not a fan of all these “days OFF” either . . . they get paid to play so PLAY THEM. Maybe a hit in the OLD pocketbook like a “fine” for failing to move a base runner might provide a little more incentive to make contact with the ball rather than whiffing! And another thing, QUIT GIVING the opposition incentive by your smart??? remarks.

clix

September 7th, 2011
9:33 am

We’ve got to get Prado out of the 2 hole. Martin has struggled mightily there since Bourn arrived. Move Prado to the 5 or 6 spot and plug Castanza into the 2 slot. McCann isn’t a 3 hole hitter either (although he may be the best fit among current Brave’s). We’ll wish before it’s all over with that the team had made a trade with JJ while he was hot before the break. We’re going to end up with a Boris client that struggles to stay healthy and on the field.
Given what’s available at this moment, I’d go Hudson, Beachy, Lowe, Minor for my rotation. My line-up would be: , Bourn, Castanza, Uggla, McCann, Chipper, Freeman, Prado/Heyward, Agon, pitcher. doesn’t matter how good your pitching is if ya can’t score. Shake it up , get Heyward in there more, we really need him to come out of his season long funk, to better our chances of getting out of round 1. I like the idea of a future with him in the 3 hole(which is where he will hit once he gets back to where he is himself again) behind Bourn and Castanza.. speed speed speed, then McCann, Freeman, I can see a lot of runs crossing the plate.The future is really bright but this team can win now also, if a couple of guys can get back on track…

Larry

September 7th, 2011
9:34 am

Mark,

What the Braves had better “target” is a new manager. Seriously, the way this man has managed this team recently by repeatedly running out ineffective bating orders, coupled with his litany of bizarre–if not downright just stupid decisions–they wouldn’t have a prayer against the Astros!

The only thing more befuddling is that someone on here will reply to me that they actually think Fredi is doing a good job. This is why we have law enforcement and door locks…to protect us against these people in a civilized world.

DEEP FLYBALL

September 7th, 2011
9:35 am

SO MUCH FOR CHIPPER & HIS CRYSTAL BALL PREDICTIONS!!!!

FSUFalcon

September 7th, 2011
9:35 am

sorry, the phillies are in a class of their own..the braves are not a formidable opponent for the phillies…a rookie in his first start blew them away last night..the brave starting pitching is avg at best…the best pitcher is beachy, huddy is streaky, unreliable, and lowe is washed up..the team that always wins the ws seems to have that one stud pitcher that throws really hard..look at last year, with SF..Tim Linescum was that one stud they had…the braves do not have that…the brewers will sweep the hapless braves..same ole song..and they wonder why people dont come out and see this team..we already know what we are going to get..a boring team with a fast post season exit.

JackDennis

September 7th, 2011
9:38 am

This thread is conclusive proof that the braves have crummy fans.

Heisenberg

September 7th, 2011
9:42 am

I wold trade mediocre ball in Sept for a healthy team in Oct. Which means get Freeman some rest for that leg. Did anyone notice how he ran to first on a ground ball last night? Seriously, sit him for a week before that thing pops and he misses the post-season.

Noholdsbarred

September 7th, 2011
9:43 am

Didn’t like my last comments huh??? After posting on here for many, many days, all of a sudden I’m banned????