Atlanta Braves at the Quarter Pole: projecting the rest of the season

The Atlanta Braves are hoping and praying to reach the 2021 playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The Atlanta Braves are hoping and praying to reach the 2021 playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Atlanta Braves
The Reds are flying high, but the Atlanta Braves look to get the better 1st round playoff matchup. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /

The More Interesting Calls

Let’s get these easy ones out of the way first:

  • The Giants and Dodgers will fight for the NL West crown (kinda hope the Giants win that, but it will be close) with the runner-up hosting the NL Wild Card game.
  • The Brewers will win the NL Central easily, and they will probably host the NL East winner.

So that leaves three teams competing for the remaining two playoff slots:  the Reds, Braves, and Phillies.


Once the Reds get through the Cubs (inexplicably losing last night), they will face Miami, Milwaukee, and Miami again.

Cincy currently sits 1.5 games behind the Padres (a deficit that will evaporate like a July ice cube in Death Valley) and 3 games ahead of the Phillies (and a half-game ahead of Atlanta overall).

After that, they are in pretty decent shape with these teams on the schedule:

  • Detroit
  • Cardinals twice
  • Cubs again
  • Pittsburgh three times
  • The Dodgers
  • Washington
  • 2 games vs. the White Sox that will probably not matter a bit to Chicago.

That’s pretty easy… which means the Reds have a great chance to earn the right to face the Dodgers or Giants — in California — in a single loser-goes-home game.

It’s not much of a prize… but there’s always a chance when you’re in such a contest, so nobody would turn down the opportunity.


That leaves the Phils and Braves to fight things out for the NL East crown and the remaining playoff spot.

Let’s compare the schedules of Atlanta and Philly:

    • Miami (both teams see them twice, counting the current Braves’ series)
    • San Diego
    • Baltimore
    • Colorado (Braves see them twice)
    • Arizona (Phils see them twice)
    • Washington
    • Mets
  • DIFFERENCES — Philly schedule
    • Tampa Bay
    • Milwaukee
    • Cubs
    • Pittsburgh
  • DIFFERENCES — Braves schedule
    • Giants (twice)
    • Dodgers
    • Yankees (2 games)

On paper, Philadelphia has the advantage.  Among the different opponents, the Braves are going to face a well-motivated opponent with each and every series, while Philly might have trouble with only the Rays and Brewers.

Still, the Phillies’ pitching isn’t quite up to the level that Atlanta has been producing in recent weeks, so that advantage falls to the Braves.

That was underscored as Huascar Ynoa threw last night as if he hadn’t missed a beat after losing his fight with a bench.  Certainly, pitching depth is on the Braves’ side as Ian Anderson will return to action soon, too.

In addition, there are these factors:

  • Rhys Hoskins is hurt.  Word is that he’ll be back shortly, but the Phillies have to hope that it isn’t too soon… a reinjury could be devastating to their chances.
  • Their offense isn’t holding up well:  17th team OPS in the majors (Atlanta is 7th).
  • About their pitching?  12th worst ERA in the majors over the past 30 days.  Atlanta sits third best on that list.

So while the Phillies should be able to take advantage of their schedule, there’s a real question about whether they will actually do so.

It will be important for the Braves to continue to win the most winnable games since they will face some serious competition against the West Coast leaders and the resurgent Yankees.

As a result, the betting here is that the division won’t be decided until the last week of the season — and the head-to-head matchup between these two clubs will matter in the end.

Best for the team?. dark. Next

The betting is also that the Braves will prevail — and take the division.  Final margin?  2-to-3 games clear of the Phillies.