2011 has been a great year for the Atlanta Braves. They have over come injuries, offensive struggles, pitching struggles and a manager change. With all of this being said the Braves are a very impressive 81-57. They have a 7.5 game lead in the Wild Card with 24 games left to play. You would think that’s a very good spot to be in and I would have to say I agree. Last year the Wild Card race went right down to the wire and it seems as if the Braves are going to avoid the late season drama, right?
A week or so ago I would have said yes. The Braves appeared as if they had the Wild Card in their back pocket. They were playing very good baseball and with time running out in the season it appeared as if no one really had a legit chance of catching them. Now as I sit here at my lap top I’m counting down the days until the season ends. For me the season can’t end soon enough because the Cardinals are just 7.5 games back of the Braves entering play today. They are still very much in this thing and the Giants are holding steady at 8.5 games out. Neither one of these teams are even close to being mathematically eliminated and there’s still plenty of time for an epic collapse on the part of Atlanta.
I’m not one to spread panic and I actually despise bloggers who write articles for the sheer purpose of getting everyone riled up. That’s not what I’m trying to do at all. All I’m saying is this race is NOT in the bag by any means and I’m concerned that the Braves are not taking this as seriously as they should be. I understand that they have a comfortable lead right now and it’s Sept not the middle of July. Time is running out in the season and time is the best friend of the Atlanta Braves right now. The Cardinals might run out of time to catch these Braves but I’m not willing to chance it.
Jurrjens has been struggling as of late. Hanson is on the Disabled List. You never know what you’re going to get from Derek Lowe. He’s shown some signs of improvement but nothing that makes me feel good inside when Fredi hands him the ball. Beachy and Minor have been stellar as of late but how much pressure can we put on these two guys down the stretch? Hudson is the ace of this staff and he continues to give us good outings.
The Dodgers came to town on Friday playing a great brand of baseball. This team might be out of the playoff race but they are still red hot and have absolutely nothing to lose. The Braves coughed up a 5-0 lead on Friday night and lost a heart breaker last night. They are currently behind 3-0 this afternoon with Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers. A comeback this afternoon is not impossible but appears unlikely as the Braves struggle to hit average lefties never mind Clayton Kershaw.
The upcoming week for this Braves team is HUGE. We have a 3 game set at Philadelphia to start the week. Then they are forced to travel to New York to play a double header because of Hurricane Irene. That sort of throws a monkey wrench into the week because instead of having an off day they are forced to play a double header instead.
Then to close out the week they have a 3 game set in St. Louis against the team that is most likely to catch them in the Wild Card race, if anyone does. Those 3 games against the Cardinals are obviously big games. A sweep in our favor would pretty much put the red birds out of contention. However a sweep in their favor would put them right in the thick of things as the season begins to come to a close.
We also have 3 games at home against Philadelphia that will likely be tough games UNLESS the Phillies decide to rest their starters as they will have nothing to play for. However I’m not counting on that as last year they went full force against us in the final series. There is no love lose between these two teams and I’m sure the Phillies would just love for us to miss the playoffs.
A lot of division games coming up. Outside of the Cardinals series there will be no more games played outside of our division. This means we have to beat teams like the Nationals and Marlins.
Don’t get me wrong. I think the Braves are doing a terrific job and I’d much rather be 7.5 games up in the standings then 7.5 games out like the Cardinals but I’d still like to see a little bit of urgency from this Braves team. It would be absolutely devastating if we missed the playoffs after having such a big lead in the Wild Card so late into the season.
Is anyone else just the least bit concerned? Or is it just me?
By: Bob McVinua