Alright. As promised we can get back to the most important topic in baseball, the Atlanta Braves. There’s a big game tonight against the Cardinals on the road in St. Louis. Although both teams are facing a good amount of pressure in this series I’d say that the majority of the pressure rests on the shoulders of the Cardinals. After all, were not chasing them. They are the team that’s 7.5 games out with 18 games left to play. In my opinion the Cardinals need to sweep this series to really challenge the Braves down the stretch and for the Braves I think 2 out of 3 should do the trick. Head to head meetings are where playoff spots are won or lost this late in the season. Yes the Cardinals face an up hill battle the rest of the way but they can certainly make life a lot easier if they could sweep this 3 game set.
For the Braves I think it’s all about taking 2 out of 3 and just making another statement. If this team wins the series then they will have gained 1 full game in the standings and more importantly knocked off 3 more games from their remaining schedule. For the Braves there’s no where to go. They aren’t going to win the division and the wild card team is always guaranteed the 4th seed in the post season and no chance at home field advantage. The Braves are in a spot where they just need to win games and focus on themselves. It doesn’t matter what the Phillies are doing. It doesn’t matter what the D-Backs or Brewers are doing. This team needs tunnel vision right now.
21 year old Randall Delgado will take the mound tonight for the Bravos and were hoping to see some good things from him. In his last start against the Giants he actually carried a no hitter into the late innings so we’ll be hoping for more of the same tonight. The Cardinals line up as a lot more offensive threats in it compared to the slumping Giants line up that Delgado faced last month. So it should certainly be a big test for the very talented young man.
Honestly this is the moment I’ve been anxious about for the past week or so. We need to avoid the sweep which would be a complete disaster. We can’t have a repeat of what happened in Philadelphia. A sweep would bring that 7.5 game lead down to just 4.5 and with 18 games left that could get a little dicey.
I am also noticing that Fredi Gonzalez is falling into a tough spot. One that might be corrected after this series. He’s on the fence between being in place where he can rest players and prepare for the playoffs and a place where his playoff chances are being threatened. A very difficult place for a manager to be in. A team like the Phillies can start resting some guys and experimenting a little before the playoffs start. A team like the Cardinals knows that it’s all or nothing right now and that they have to do whatever it takes to make the playoffs.
Which spot is Fredi Gonzalez in? I think he’s caught right in the middle. If the Braves were to sweep this serious, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Then the Braves would hold a VERY comfortable 10.5 game lead and could then start to rest some players and figure out their playoff rotation.
Venters looks exhausted. I’ve never seen him with such control problems before and the last thing we want is to have him worn out and in affective for the post season. The bullpen is by far our biggest strength. The ability to shorten games could be the reason we make a run at the World Series. When you play the Atlanta Braves you’re playing a 6 inning game. That’s extremely intimidating and causes teams to press a lot harder in the earlier innings because they are afraid of not having the lead by the middle of the ball game.
By: Bob McVinua