It's now crunch time in the baseball stretch run.
The Braves managed, with a rotten early September, to play themselves out of the lead in the NL East. Of course, the Phillies great second half play helped, and they're now in a 3 game lead in the NL East. This week, the Phils and Braves will square off in Philly, with this being the Braves last gasp at taking the NL East.
At the same time, the Rockies have done their usual end of year push, and have become players in both the NL West and Wild Card races. As many predicted, the Padres finally swooned and are now fighting the Giants and Rockies for that division lead. It's right now 4 teams for 2 spots, with no clear leader in the NL West, and the Braves nursing a 2 game lead for the Wild Card.
As I write this, the Braves have a 3 run lead to sweep the Mets today, which would put the Braves at 86-64 and headed to 90 wins easily, which has been the number to hit for an NL Wild Card team. Only a couple of times in the last ten years has an NL team had more than 90 wins and not won the division or wild card. If the Braves play .500 the rest of the way and end up 92-70, that should do it. Over in the AL, there have been several occasions where teams have won 93 and not made it. Still, 90 is usually the number. This year, in the NL, with 4 good teams chasing those two spots, I think it may take 92 or 93 wins. For the braves that means they go 7-5 in their last 12 and I think they are definitely in. If they do that and end up 93-69, the Rockies would need to go 11-3. The Giants would need to go 10-3, and the Padres would need to go 10-4. So, there you have it. The path to the Wild Card is much simpler for the Braves right now. So, keep the faith, Braves fans!
But...if the Braves go 2-4 against the Phils in those last 6, that means they need to go 5-1 against the Marlin and Nats, 2 teams that have given the Braves fits. So, better to go 3-3 to the Phils and then it's just 4-2 against those two teams.