Fantasy baseball: Could the Braves really catch the Nationals?

Does this look like a team in the early stages of collapsing? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Does this look like a team in the early stages of collapsing? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Washington holds a five-game lead over the Braves with 14 to play. (The Braves have 12 games remaining.) That’s still a sizable margin. But it’s not nearly as big as it was a week ago, when the Nationals were 8 1/2 games in front. And if you’re wondering if such a lead has ever been squandered in so short a time, the answer is yes. The 1964 Phillies, long the gold standard of flops, led by 6 1/2 with 12 to go.

(Oh, and if you’re wondering, “How far ahead of St. Louis were the 2011 Braves with 14 games remaining?”, the answer is 4 1/2 games. We know how that turned out.)

In sum, it can happen. Working against the Braves is that they don’t play Washington again. Working for them is that the schedules are imbalanced. All of the Nationals’ remaining games will come against Los Angeles, Milwaukee, St. Louis or Philadelphia — all of whom have reason to believe they can still make the playoffs. The Braves have six games remaining against the out-of-it Mets and Marlins and will end the regular season with three games against the Pirates, who no longer have a realistic postseason chance.

These next five days should tell the tale. The Nats play the Dodgers again tonight — the teams split a doubleheader Wednesday — and then must face the rampaging Brewers four times. The Braves play three games in Philadelphia, and the Phillies have been nearly as hot as Milwaukee. If the Braves can gain a couple of more games by the close of business Monday, they’ll have a chance.

Truth to tell, they already do. The Nationals’ magic number to clinch the division stood at 11 on Sept. 13. A week later, it has only shrunk to nine. If Washington had beaten the Braves even once here over the weekend, we’d have no real reason to get excited. But the Nats didn’t, and we kind of do. We around here know how fast leads can disappear.

By Mark Bradley

92 comments Add your comment

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 20th, 2012
10:09 am

I think we still have a shot, Nats have a hard schedule. We need to keep winning too.

Kudos?

Bravo

September 20th, 2012
10:10 am

Bravo

September 20th, 2012
10:11 am

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 20th, 2012
10:13 am

If only we’d won 2 games in Milwaukee, we would be 3 back right now…. Nats struggling quite a bit lately, and we’re getting hot. Hope it continues.

Mark Bradley

September 20th, 2012
10:14 am

Kudos, Only. Condolences, Bravo.

Thrashers Fan!

September 20th, 2012
10:17 am

We’re running out of time but I still have hope!

Ted M

September 20th, 2012
10:23 am

no… but it will be fun rooting for it.

Ted M

September 20th, 2012
10:25 am

they are 6 back in the loss column. worse then just 5 back

Ted M

September 20th, 2012
10:28 am

Washington is simply better then the 2011 Braves. Unfortunately it won’t happen.

Tami

September 20th, 2012
10:32 am

I think the ball’s really in the Braves’ court. They can’t realistically look at the scoreboard any longer. They must take care of business with whomever their opponent is at that given time and play to win. Don’t get impatient at the plate and try to win it all with one swing of the bat. Play solid, smart baseball all 9 innings. Then….once the game is over, take a look at the scoreboard.

It’s really theirs to win or lose, at this point. GO, BRAVOS!!!!

Ted M

September 20th, 2012
10:34 am

How bad is Yanish hurt?

Sonny Clusters

September 20th, 2012
10:39 am

Yes, we believe they can catch the Nationals except for Davey Johnson being in the Nats dugout and everybody knows Davey Johnson has won and won wherever he has been, and most of us know that Davey Johnson carries a rabbit’s foot at all times and never tips his hand or his cap until it’s all over. We think Davey Johnson may be the deciding factor but we’d like to think Medlen could start every other day and swing things over to the Braves. By the way, give Prado some more money and let him pick his position and build around him. He can play some ball almost like a Clusters.

Steve

September 20th, 2012
10:43 am

Who is Yanish? I do know the Braves have a player named Paul Janish.

Ted M

September 20th, 2012
10:44 am

Mark or anyone – If the Braves keep their rotation as is whose the starter who will come up for the 1 game playoff?

Ted M

September 20th, 2012
10:45 am

ha Steve …I thought that looked funny.

Gene

September 20th, 2012
10:54 am

I don’t think that the Braves will catch the Nats, and I’m not sure that they will win the one game playoff, particularly if they face the Cardinals. Medlin can surely pitch, but sometimes the Braves can’t hit a lick, and you have to score at least one run to win a baseball game.

Long time fan

September 20th, 2012
10:56 am

The Braves need to take care of business this weekend against a tough Philly team and this is an odd season against the fish because usually they just have a problem getting up for the Miamians.

LawDawg

September 20th, 2012
10:59 am

I’ll be happy if they just make it to the wild card after last year. Catching the Nats would be great, but let’s focus on getting to the postseason at all with this anemic offense.

Ted M

September 20th, 2012
11:01 am

Mark – Your Ga Bulldogs blogs get like million times more activity then all your other blogs combined.

Fragile Bob Horner

September 20th, 2012
11:01 am

do we have anyone off the bench who is a decent pinch hitter? I was hoping Overbay could fill that need. Not gonna happen. Hinske can’t swing around the gut anymore.

Sonny Clusters

September 20th, 2012
11:04 am

When Abner Doubleday Cartwright Clusters was inventing the game of baseball, one thing he was certain about was that designated hitters and wild cards was not good for the game. Sadly, others decided it was okay to mess around with the game and take the purity away and even later some decided that it was okay to rub some mysterious cream on your back that would make your head swell so much you couldn’t wear a regulation cap. Still, according to this Clusters a division leader should play another division leader and see who wins and somebody that doesn’t finish first in the division needs to go home and watch on television. Of course, we’d take a World Series if the Braves could win one from the wild card but we’d whole lot rather see them overtake the Nats and win it the old fashion way. Baseball is being messed up with a bunch of Melky Cabreras and other cheaters and it looks like Melky may be the batting champion and that’s why we don’t like some of these changes and we don’t like NL teams playing AL teams during the season and we don’t the wild card and never have. (Pause for breath) We are a National League loving baseball fan and we liked seeing the Braves manufacture that first run last night.

Ted M

September 20th, 2012
11:04 am

Reed Johnson is the very best pinch hitter in the MLB.

Joey

September 20th, 2012
11:05 am

Regardless of whether or not the Nats collapse, Fredi should have the pitching schedule so that Medlin starts the Wild Card one game playoff.

The odds are great if he gets the ball in that game, maybe 50/50 if Minor starts it, and less for Huddy. Odds not good at all if one of the others has to go.

I still say if Uggla gets hot like, last July, we can beat any team in a series.

Kudos to Prado, Heyward, Freeman, Medlin, and Kinbrel for putting the Braves on their backs and carrying the team to the playoffs.

Also congrats to Chipper for keeping his head in the game, what with all the distractions – farewell tour, divorce, etc. Hope he comes up big in a couple weeks . . .

Sonny Clusters

September 20th, 2012
11:06 am

We was reading that those new Fox South Braves girls was brought in to pinch hit.

Ted M

September 20th, 2012
11:06 am

When “Yanish” got hurt and Hinske had to play LF I thought disaster was imminent.

Joey

September 20th, 2012
11:08 am

Ted M, Johnson isn’t bad when starting either, huh?

Does anybody but me wish he was our starting center-fielder right now?

Thomas

September 20th, 2012
11:08 am

Hey Mark, did a consultant tell you and Schultzie to put ‘fantasy’ in your column titles?

Ted M

September 20th, 2012
11:12 am

Yep, Bourn’s average has sunk like rock in the past few weeks.

Ted M

September 20th, 2012
11:14 am

Don

September 20th, 2012
11:15 am

The Nats play the Phillies six times in the last nine games of the season. The Braves can hope that the Phillies are still playing for the wild card by then….or maybe not!

Joey

September 20th, 2012
11:15 am

Anybody know about Ben Sheets’ status since coming off the DL?

Ted M

September 20th, 2012
11:19 am

I asked DOB about Sheets news. No reply.

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 20th, 2012
11:21 am

Yep, Bourn’s average has sunk like rock in the past few weeks.

Weeks? Try months… he’s hitting about .230 since the All-Star Break.

Anybody know about Ben Sheets’ status since coming off the DL?

In the bullpen now, I believe.

Things I Read 09/20/12 « Land of Caleb

September 20th, 2012
11:31 am

[...] Bradley asks: Could the Braves have a Legit chance of catching the Nationals? I’d like to think so. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

dean

September 20th, 2012
11:34 am

Think the gnats’ breathing is getting tight right about now? What happens if the Braves and gnats end up tied? A one game playoff to see who has to play a one game playoff? Awesome!

Time

September 20th, 2012
11:42 am

It’s going to be real funny if they end up losing out to the Braves for the division, then end up losing the (ridiculous) one game playoff while Strausburg sits on the bench for no good reason other than some made up number that noone really knows is valid or not.

Time

September 20th, 2012
11:42 am

And Bradley is a joke

Wishful to think...

September 20th, 2012
11:43 am

Catching the Nat’s is possible but not probable. Beginning next week the Braves need to begin setting their rotation for the playoffs and getting the much needed rest for their starters. Medlen must start the Wild Card game (Oct 5th), he’s earned it. If the Braves win the WC game, then Medlen could pitch again in game three of the NLDS. Another change this year is that the best record in the NL plays the WC winner so we could see the Nationals in the NLDS. Either way (Reds or Nat’s) the Braves will need to get healthy and play together over the coming few weeks. Hey MB, can we get some injury updates?? Janish, Simmons, Sheets, Hanson?? Can we get some good stats, like McCann’s BA over the past month?? Medlen’s historical run as a starter in 2012?? Articles about our starters stats (hitting and pitching) against either the Red’s or Nat’s?? It’s playoff time and we’re in!!!!!!

Go Braves!!!

September 20th, 2012
11:52 am

Honestly this article is soft and uninformative. Time to bring your “A” game Bradley. Looks like you could have written this ten minutes before bed last night…..

Born2Buzz

September 20th, 2012
11:54 am

Talk before the game yesterday explained how Medlen will definitely get pushed up to be in line to start the playoff game.
dean, that would be the best of all scenarios…a playoff to determine who plays the playoff.
And Clusters is working overtime. Good job.

TheOnlyBravesFan

September 20th, 2012
11:55 am

And Bradley is a joke

Milton Bradley? Yes. Mark Bradley, no.

BDK

September 20th, 2012
12:10 pm

If the Braves go 8-4, then the nats would have to go 4-10. I don’t see that happening. I think it would take a 10-2 record and hope the nats go 6-8.We will know where we stand after this weekend. The Braves have to find a way to win at least 2 of 3 from philly.If that happens, we could have a chance.

yep

September 20th, 2012
12:17 pm

Train Wreck Bystander

September 20th, 2012
12:24 pm

I believe this all boils down to semantics.

The Braves can’t catch the Nats.
The Nats, however, could stumble and blow it.

The onus is all on the Nats to keep their lead.

Hillbilly D

September 20th, 2012
12:28 pm

The ‘64 Phillies had Gene Mauch, who would always find a way to over-manage his team into defeat.

Dawg Haus

September 20th, 2012
12:44 pm

The schedules definitely work in the Braves’ favor. I say it’s possible, but not likely. Hope I’m wrong! Go Braves and any team playing the Gnats!

Wilbo

September 20th, 2012
12:55 pm

As usual, Homer Bonehead, you are completely out of your mind.

If the Nats fall completely apart and go 6-8, the Braves would have to win 10 out of 12 just to tie.

There is absolutely zero chance either of those will happen.

Nats go 8-6, the Braves have to win every single game.

Homer Bonehead, I really like that name for you! Be an EXCELLENT blog title.

Atlanta Goal

September 20th, 2012
12:58 pm

Been hearing the players talk about the Braves goal is to make the playoffs. Too bad it’s not to win the World Series. I’d rather see them save their best efforts for the playoffs and not worry about catching the Nats..

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Yogi

September 20th, 2012
1:42 pm