With the Padres getting beat 1-0 by the Cubs tonight, the Braves path to the NL Wild Card just got a little easier.
The Braves magic number is now 2 over San Diego. Here are the scenarios for the Braves:
- Braves get swept by Phils, leaving them 90-72 for the season. Padres take 2 of 3 against San Fran to finish 90-72. Giants still win West, and Padres have to travel to Atlanta to play a one game playoff against Braves.
- Braves get swept by Phils and Padres sweep Giants. This is the only scenario that stops Braves outright. Braves finish 90-72, but both Padres and Giants finish 91-71. No playoff for West division - division winner is season series winner of Pads/Giants. Wild Card goes to the other team. This is a playoff seeding scenario only, thus, no playoff.
- Braves go 1-2 against Phils, making them 91-71 for the season. Padres have to sweep in this case against Giants. If they do, all three teams will be 91-71. In this case, the Padres/Giants will play one game for the NL West title. Loser of that will travel to Atlanta to play 1 game playoff for Wild Card. If the Braves win 1 against Phils and Padres lose 2+ to Giants - Giants win NL West, Braves win Wild Card.
- Braves go 2-1 against Phils - Braves win Wild Card, period, as they would have 92-70 record. Best Padres can finish is 91-71, so, if they do sweep the Giants in this scenario, they would play SF in a one game playoff for NL West crown. Loser stays home.
So, for the Padres, the challenge is clear - they really must sweep the Giants. The Braves can make this even more important for the Padres by winning Friday against the Phillies. Unlike last time, when the Phils swept the Braves in Philly, the Braves get to face Kyle Kendrick, Cole Hamels, and rookie Vance Worley (as opposed to Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt). And, I doubt Hamels or Kendrick even, will go deep in the game, exposing the Phillies middle relief. I'm not saying the Phils would throw the games against the Braves, but, it is the difference between facing Cincinnati or San Diego in the first round (or, God forbid, San Francisco and that pitching staff). It'll be interesting to see who plays in this series. Werth, Victorino, Howard, have all gotten significant rest since the Phils clinched on Monday.
If you're a Phillies fan, thank Brian McCann that the home field will be with the Phils the entire post-season.