At 37-40 on the year, the season isn’t over for the Atlanta Braves, but as we’re nearly at the halfway point, some things are going to have to change.
We expected that the NL East was going to involve some tough sledding for the Atlanta Braves, but things have clearly not progressed as expected.
The trick now is that some harsh realities are starting to appear.
This isn’t the 2020 season. We do not have an expanded playoff format. So the only way that teams qualify for the post-season are by: [a] winning their division; or [b] being one of the 2 clubs with the best records among the 12 “also-rans”.
So if you’re one who might be thinking “there’s always a Wild Card berth”, then think again.
At this precise moment in time, Atlanta is eight games behind the last playoff-qualifying team.
Right now, that play-in game would be a compelling contest: the Dodgers vs. the Padres. But don’t figure on catching either of these clubs… not when they still have lots of games vs. their NL West brethren along with AL West clubs that are very beatable.
So it’s beat the Mets, Phillies, and Nationals… or go home.
Addition by Division
The Braves are now 5 back in the East with the Mets still needing to make up 4 games on their own schedule (thanks to prior COVID considerations). That should make for a tired Mets club… and this week is the best opportunity to start the comeback.
Looking for some good scheduling news?
You could say that Atlanta’s woes come from just 2 specific sources: the Marlins (2-5) and the Blue Jays (0-6). Had they simply been closer to .500 against this pair (6-7), then the team’s record would be 41-36… only 1 game behind.
While they can’t make up for past problems, it does suggest that the Braves are doing better — overall — than the other East teams with the rest of their schedule… and there are still a bunch of head-to-head games remaining with the NL East.
Before the All-Star break, Atlanta has 3 games vs. the Mets and six against those pesky Marlins. They don’t have to sweep all of these… but 6-3 would be helpful.
After the break, the Tampa Bay Rays come to Atlanta, and thus far, hardly anyone in the NL East has fared well against them: 3-8 combined. Thus there is another opportunity to pick up games relative to what others have already done.
Likewise, the Padres come into town right after that before the Braves get nine consecutive games against the Phillies and Mets — on the road.
That brings us nearly to the eve of the trade deadline… July 29 being the last game in that sequence.
By then… the Braves need to be in a better position in the standings. If so: great — buy, buy. buy.
If not, then we might be having a whole ‘nother conversation on the next day.