Who would you prefer the Atlanta Braves face in the playoffs?

The Atlanta Braves could end up facing the Giants in a first round playoff matchup. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The Atlanta Braves could end up facing the Giants in a first round playoff matchup. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

I know — the Atlanta Braves haven’t made the playoffs yet… but who they might face is getting to be an interesting question.

A few days ago, it seemed that the pecking order in the Nationals League was getting set up… an order that would place the Atlanta Braves against Milwaukee in a first-round playoff matchup.

Wellll… maybe not.

As of tonight — the Brewers have already lost to the Reds — Milwaukee is nonetheless knocking on the door of the Western division leaders.  That could upset the order of events as we come toward October.

How close is it?  Enough that we can’t ignore the possible ramifications:

  • San Francisco:  82-44
  • Los Angeles:  80-47
  • Milwaukee:  78-50

The best of these three teams gets to face the winner of the Wild Card game.  They also win the right to home-field advantage for as long as they last in the playoffs.

The second-best division winner among these teams is the one likely to see the Atlanta Braves as their first-round opponent.

The odds don’t favor any changes over the next month, but the possibility is definitely there… just check the schedules (after tonight’s games):

  • MILWAUKEE – Twins, Giants, Cardinals, Phillies, Indians, Tigers, Cubs, Cards, Mets, Cards (yeah, a 3rd time), and Dodgers.
  • SAN FRAN – Braves, Brewers, Dodgers, Rockies (in Denver), Cubs, Padres, Braves, Padres, Rockies (in Denver again), DBacks, Padres.
  • LOS ANGELES – Rockies (at home), Braves, Giants, Cardinals, Padres, DBacks, Reds, Rockies (in Denver), DBacks, Padres, Brewers

A couple of pertinent points:

  • Facing the Rockies in Denver is not trivial, so that’s why the location of those games is highlighted.  Colorado is 43-22 at home.  This adds a significant disadvantage to the Giants.
  • When you look at all 3 schedules, the Brewers have the advantage, followed by the Dodgers.  This favors tightening that race for the top seed… and for the Wild Card race.

Who would be better for the Atlanta Braves to face in that 1st round?

That also might be an interesting question.  While Atlanta managed a 3-3 season series record against the Brewers, there are those who believe they might be the toughest opponent:

Sure:  the Reds don’t face the Dodgers or Giants every other week, but that’s still saying something… particularly since pitching is vitally important in a playoff series.

Overall for the year, the Dodgers are still holding the ERA lead in the majors at 3.05.  However, second place (3.25) belongs to the Giants and third place is held by Milwaukee (3.36)… and the Brewers are about one-third of a run better than the next club on the list.

The Braves are 13th, by the way.

If you are wondering if things might have changed over the second half of the season… well… not much:

  • Dodgers (2.76)
  • Yankees (3.09… they are 4th for the full season)
  • Brewers (3.13)
  • Giants (3.22)

Atlanta, for their part, moves up to 6th in the majors since the All-Star break… which certainly has helped their resurgence in recent weeks.

So really… it’s a tough call as to which opponent might be the best to face in the first round:  regardless, it’s gonna be tough sledding.

Just chalk this race for the top seed as one more thing that will be fascinating to watch as we enter the season’s last month.