3 teams the Atlanta Braves would probably prefer to avoid in the postseason

The Atlanta Braves have clearly been the best team in baseball this season, but that doesn't mean some teams aren't worse matchups than others.

Jul 5, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA;  Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Trea Turner (7) is
Jul 5, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Trea Turner (7) is / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 4

Atlanta Braves fans have to be thrilled with how the 2023 season is going. After taking down the Dodgers in a tight game last night, the Braves sit at 90 wins in early September (which is crazy any way you look at it) and appear to be firing on all cylinders. The offense is great, the pitching staff is finally getting healthy, and the bullpen has been, mostly, very strong.

It's no surprise that the Braves currently have the best odds of winning the World Series this year. Fangraphs has them at a whopping 29% to win it all and Baseball-Reference has them at a lower but still very strong 22.3% chance to claim another title. With what the Braves have done to the Dodgers who are arguably the second-best team in the league, the last few days, it is hard to argue with those numbers.

However, that does not mean, whatsoever, that Atlanta has an easy road to the World Series. Some teams are just better matchups than others and anything can happen in a short series. In fact, we saw exactly that happen last year when a very good but gassed Braves team encountered a red-hot Phillies team that appeared built to win a playoff series. The Braves will likely be favored to win any playoff series they are in, but there are a few matchups they would probably prefer to avoid.

Here are 3 teams the Atlanta Braves would probably prefer to avoid in the postseason

At the end of the day, all of the teams that make the playoffs are at least pretty good and would be capable of beating the Braves. This team is not invincible by any stretch. However, there are a few specific teams that pose unique challenges for Atlanta and if given the choice, the Braves would probably prefer to not have to see them on the other side in a series where the winner goes home.

Let's take a look at three playoff matchups the Atlanta Braves would probably prefer to avoid this coming postseason.

The Philadelphia Phillies could be dangerous for the Braves in the playoffs

The Phillies are an easy place to start as they are a familiar foe and they also spoiled the Braves playoff run last year in the NLDS. There were certainly a few fluky things about last year as Atlanta was exhausted from having to chase down the Mets into the final week of the season and illness hitting the Braves' pitching staff but the biggest reason why the Braves lost that series is because the Phillies are a good team who are built for playoff baseball.

The best way to see this is with their pitching staff. The Phillies' rotation isn't particularly deep, but you will struggle to find a better 1-2 punch at the top of a rotation than Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Wheeler could very well win the Cy Young this year and Nola's track record speaks for itself even if he hasn't been at the height of his powers this season. When the Phillies could run either of those guys out multiple times in a series on short rest, it is clear why Philadelphia is a true threat to steal a playoff series.

The news is actually worse than that as the Phillies also have a pair of known Braves killers on their roster in Bryce Harper and Trea Turner. Bryce has tormented Atlanta for years now going back to his time with the Nationals and he also appears to be fully healthy again after recovering from Tommy John surgery. Turner was having a season to forget in the first half after signing a huge contract with the Phillies, but has looked like his former self lately and he always seems to give the Braves a lot of trouble.

The good news here is that these Braves appear to be better than the 2022 version and they have also played the Phillies well this year with a 4-2 record. However, the playoffs are a different animal, so hopefully the Phillies get bounced in the Wild Card round and they aren't an issue.

As always, the Dodgers remain a threat to Atlanta in the postseason

Braves fans are understandably thrilled with their demolition of the Dodgers over the last three games. The Braves haven't played well in Dodger Stadium in over a decade and their convincing performance is certainly a statement that Atlanta is a force to be reckoned with. However, just because the Braves have gotten the job done lately doesn't mean they should be itching to face LA in the playoffs yet again.

The Dodgers' pitching staff isn't as good as in years past, but Clayton Kershaw is still a beast, and guys like Julio Urias and Bobby Miller are capable of dominating any lineup. The Dodger bullpen is also one of the better ones in all of baseball and is loaded with guys who have experience playing in the pressure cooker that is the playoffs.

Then there is the Dodger offense which shouldn't need any introduction. Again, the depth isn't there this season for LA but the top end is downright spooky. Both Mookie Betts and old friend Freddie Freeman are having MVP-caliber seasons and both of those guys are capable of carrying an offense regardless of who is on the mound. Max Muncy is feast or famine but remains very dangerous and Will Smith is probably the best-hitting catcher in baseball right now. Again, not the kind of guys you want to be facing with the season on the line.

The obvious good news is that the Braves have just shown that they are more than capable of beating the Dodgers this year and on their home turf no less. It also doesn't hurt that with last night's win, the Braves own the season series tiebreaker over LA which makes it even likelier that the Braves will have home-field advantage if/when the teams meet.

Atlanta would probably prefer to avoid the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series if they get that far

It wouldn't be right to not at least look at some potential World Series matchups and see who the Braves would rather avoid. Once one gets to this point, you know with absolute certainty that you are up against a really good team that has been battle-tested and no matchup is likely to be easy. However, the Orioles are one of those teams that if they make it that far, could be a real problem.

Their pitching staff is not scary which is good news when you have an offense as good as Atlanta's, but man is their young position player core good. Adley Rutschman looks like he is going to be a stud for years to come and Gunnar Henderson is putting the league on notice with the rookie year he is putting up. The Orioles are just loaded with guys who can change a game with one swing of the bat and that makes them dangerous.

There is an intangible quality to consider here as well. While youth can often lead to players being nervous when under the bright lights, this Orioles team doesn't seem scared of anyone at any time. Perhaps they are just too young to know any better. They certainly weren't afraid of the Braves when Atlanta squeaked out a close 2-1 series win earlier this season.

Most importantly, the Orioles are just the best team in the American League right now which makes them the toughest potential opponent in the World Series. The Rays have been very uneven in 2023, although they look unstoppable when they get on a roll. The rest of the likely AL playoff teams have some real warts to overcome to even make a deep playoff run. The Braves should hope to get to the World Series and face one of those teams instead of a young, talented, and dangerous Baltimore squad.

More Braves News from House That Hank Built