Get ready for a gut-wrenching last week of Atlanta Braves baseball

Coming down to the wire, Atlanta Braves fans and all others could be biting their nails. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Coming down to the wire, Atlanta Braves fans and all others could be biting their nails. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Atlanta Braves are going to have their hands full this week — no matter how today’s finale vs. San Diego turns out.

In our last Atlanta Braves podcast, the three of us were musing about what might constitute a successful final road trip to the West Coast. The consensus seemed to settle in on either a 5-6 or 6-5 run through those 11 games.

We are now set to play the 11th and final game of this trip and the Braves have a 6-4 [ed. note – corrected] record, pending today’s outcome.  In theory, that was going to be a satisfactory result… except for one thing…

The Phillies have suddenly figured out how to beat up their weaker opponents.

That brings us to the point we feared the most:  this week’s games are going to be entirely too meaningful.

2 Playoff spots for 3 teams

After the Braves contributed by helping to eliminate the Padres last night, three teams remain in contention for NL playoff spots.  Technically, it’s 4, but the Reds will not catch the Cardinals:  Cincy’s “tragic number” is 2.

St. Louis is likewise in command of the 2nd Wild Card spot when considering both the Braves and Phillies:  the Cards’ magic numbers to eliminate each from Wild Card consideration are 4 and 3, respectively.

So it’s really that St. Louis is on the glide path for facing the Dodgers (probably?) in the Wild Card game and that Philly and Atlanta are left to wage their own battle.

So Philadelphia’s outlook is that they have to beat the Braves this week, starting Tuesday as it’s their only likely playoff option.  The same goes for Atlanta, and there will not be a “sweep proof” margin in place when that series begins.

However, even if the Braves still come out of the Philly series ahead, there’s another wild card of a different sort that might try to upset their post-season hopes:

Frankly, it’s all kind of stupid to gear Jacob deGrom up to pitch a single game that’s truly meaningless to his team next weekend, but it’s probably useless to try and talk deGrom out of the attempt.

But that’s all the more reason for Atlanta to start thinking as if the playoffs have already started:  everybody is going to be trying to knock them off this week.  The Padres, the Phillies, and especially the Mets.

In case of a tie…

The Braves might end up having to play two games after the regular season technically ends:  the rainout of the Rockies game earlier this month and then a tie-breaker vs. the Phillies.

Right now, that tie-breaker would be played in Philadelphia since they own a 9-7 lead in the season series.  Atlanta would have to sweep Philly to turn that around.  While that would also give the Braves a commanding lead in the division, it also wouldn’t necessarily clinch the division, either.

dark. Next. Suspending Reality

That’s why last night’s multiple-comebacks win was so vital.  Everything is magnified and everything counts.