The Atlanta Braves are coming off a series win against the Dodgers where they won three of four games in Los Angeles. After tallying their 90th win this weekend, the Braves have a magic number of 12 to win the division and sit 14.5 games above the second-place Phillies.
However, now is not the time for the Braves to get too comfortable. Here are three reasons why Atlanta cannot afford to let their guard down against the 59-78 St. Louis Cardinals.
1. St. Louis Wants to Play Spoiler
The Cardinals have more than underperformed in 2023. This team that was expected to compete for the NL Central title is in last place entering the last month of the regular season. St. Louis will be taking this month to try and prove they can in fact win with their current roster. Even after making a couple of moves at the trade deadline, any team that has: Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Willson Contreras, and upcoming star Jordan Walker is dangerous.
Not to mention a starting pitching rotation that includes Mike Mikolas, Dakota Hudson, and Adam Wainwright. What better way for the Cardinals to prove to their fans they can win with their current squad than competing with the World Series favorites?
2. Dodgers vs. Marlins
Even after the series win in LA, the Braves are only six games ahead of the Dodgers for the best record in the National League. While Atlanta is playing the Cardinals, the Dodgers will be facing the 70-67 Marlins. Miami has proven they are getting better but the Dodgers are obviously the better team right now. If Atlanta takes the Cardinals for granted, it could open the door for the Dodgers to make up ground and put home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in jeopardy.
3. More Wins Can Demoralize the Phillies
The Phillies are one of the hottest teams in the MLB right now. Thankfully, the Braves have continued to be the best team in baseball and have maintained a 14.5-game lead in the division. 14.5 games seems near impossible to recover from in a month’s time but the Phillies will try to get as close as they can.
For a team to be playing as good as the Phillies have been as late but still not gaining ground in the division has to be demoralizing. As crazy as it sounds, the more the Braves win the more it could mess with Philadelphia and neutralize their momentum heading into the 2023 postseason.