The Atlanta Braves’ game scenarios for this week

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker can't believe the playoff scenarios that still exist. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker can't believe the playoff scenarios that still exist. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

We know it’s mostly about the Atlanta Braves vs. the Philadelphia Phillies, but if that doesn’t go well, things get messy.

In 2018, the Atlanta Braves won the NL East going away — a margin of 8 full games over the Nationals.  2019 saw that winning margin shrink to 4 games, though the team was on cruise control at the end and lost five of their last six.

2020 meant another 4 game margin over the Marlins, with a similar situation to what the Braves face this week:  a late series against the team that have a shot to knock off Atlanta.

This year, however:  it’s closer.

Let’s then go through what could happen, along with a run-through of the scenarios that would include extra games (such as the make-up game with the Rockies). To simplify matters, we’ll organize things by the possible outcomes of this next set vs. Philly.

  • SCENARIO 1 – Braves sweep Phillies.  This is the easiest scenario:  Braves win NL East and there’s no drama of any kind after Thursday.
  • SCENARIO 2 – Braves win 2 of 3 games vs. Philly.
    • This clinches no worse than a tie for the division crown and thereby pushes Philly to the brink.
    • In this case, any Braves win or Philly loss afterward gives the division to Atlanta.
    • Braves only have to make up the Colorado game if they lose 3 times to the Mets and the Phillies win 3 times over the Pirates.
  • SCENARIO 3 – Braves lose 2 of 3 games vs. Philly.
    • In this scenario, the Phillies are still trailing by 1.5 games when they leave Atlanta, so they still would have a lot of work to do.
    • If Atlanta sweeps the Mets, the Phillies are closed out.
    • If Atlanta beats NY 2 of 3 times, the Phillies have to win out just to force the Colorado game to be played on Monday, October 4.
      • If Atlanta wins that, they win the division
      • if Atlanta loses, they tie with the Phillies.
  • SCENARIO 4 – Braves are swept by the Phillies.  Now things get ugly.
    • This puts Atlanta a half-game behind Philadelphia for the division lead and gives them a chance to control their own destiny.
    • The Braves would have to match or beat every successive victory by Philly over the Pirates to keep pace.
    • If play on Sunday ends with Atlanta within a half-game of the lead (either leading or trailing), then the Colorado make-up game has to be played.
    • The result of that make-up game determines whether there is a tie-breaker game.

If the Braves and Phillies end up tied for the NL East lead once the remaining games are decided, there will be a tie-breaker game played on Tuesday, October 5.  That game would take place in Philadelphia due to the results of the season’s head-to-head matchups.

Thus, in the worst-case scenario (but still a scenario that puts Atlanta into post-season play), the Braves would play…

  • 3 games at home vs. Philly (tues/wed/thurs)
  • 3 games at home vs. the Mets (fri/sat/sun)
  • 1 game at home vs. Colorado (Monday, the 4th)
  • 1 game on the road vs. Philadelphia (Tuesday the 5th)
  • Mercifully, the NLDS games do not begin until Friday, October 8th (NL East winner goes to Milwaukee), as the Wild Card game comes on Wednesday.

Hopefully, this can be wrapped up quickly — giving the Braves a full four days of rest before playing the Brewers, 11 days from now.

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It’s also hopeful that we don’t have to use or hear that word “scenario” many more times.