The LA Dodgers have flown through the National League this season. As they get closer and closer to making the 100 club and confirming top seed in the NL, it seems like they may have a battle on their hands with the unlikely Atlanta Braves for number one playoff spot. Can the Braves knock off a team that’s been around 16 games ahead at the last moment?
Remaining Games - Atlanta Braves - .621
@ Phillies x 3 – .517
@ Nationals x 3 - .556
v Phillies x 3 - .517
v Giants x 3 -.479
@ Royals x 2 -.368
@ Mets x 3 – .556
Remaining Games – LA Dodgers - .641
@ Orioles x 3 - .322
@ Mets x 3 - .556
v Rays x 2 - .593
v Rockies x 3 -.417
@ Padres x 3 - .462
@ Giants x 3 - .479
The most surprising is that, out of nowhere, in the last 30 games the Braves have notched 23 wins with seven losses, rocketing them close to the once untouchable Dodgers side. The over .500 teams won’t bother Atlanta either, having won recent series at the Mets and Nationals, and taking their first of the four-game-series against the Phillies.
I touched on the Dodgers when writing about their 100 club chances against the Yankees, and my prediction was that they would end on 102-60. Seeing that they’re on 93 wins with 17 games to go, that may be a little short now, but I did say that they’d drop one of their remaining series to the Giants, so I am approaching this with logic.
It’s evident that the Braves have the harder run-in, but they also have the stronger form and are more even in W-L across both their home and away form.
Julio Teheran – 10-8, 3.31 ERA, 154K
Dallas Keuchel – 7-5, 3.47 ERA, 73K
Max Fried – 16-4, 3.86 ERA, 159K
Mike Soroka – 11-4, 2.67 ERA, 147K
Mike Foltynewicz – 6-5, 5.00 ERA, 88K
They’re not the strongest team in the National League in pitching, they’re fourth in the NL based on team ERA, but still boast a solid rotation on the mound.
Mike Soroka has one of the the lowest in the ERA’s too, and only Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) and Max Scherzer (WSH) boast better. But it’s also has to be said that Max Fried has the most wins in the league (16) along with Stephen Strasburg (WSH). So even though that along the starting pitchers they don’t seem to have the best numbers- they’re still picking up victories, 90 victories at that.
Atlanta’s batting is also up there. They’re second in Runs Scored and in RBIs but fourth in Batting Average. Unfortunately, the one team that betters them in the former two aspects are the Dodgers, but the Braves have a few individuals which are worth noting as they go into the business end of the regular season.
First up, first baseman Freddie Freeman leads the league in RBI with 116, he is also fifth in the home run lead with 38 and has been powering the Braves’ bats maintaining a .301 BA. In his last seven games that has climbed up to .381 (half of those games were against Washington and Philadelphia). If he keeps it up, you can see him being an important aspect of this team.
Third baseman, Josh Donaldson is also another one to keep your eye on. Signing him as a free agent in November 2018, he’s truly had a comeback year staying healthy and although he’s batting around average (.272), it’s his WAR stats which are interesting. He’s fifth in the NL Wins Above Replacement at 5.7. Obviously Cody Bellinger leads this
The Braves’ run-in might be tough, but no one thought they could get to just 3.5 games behind the LA Dodgers for a top ranking in the playoff. After their entertaining and in-form win against the Nats, and starting the Phillies series with a bang, they could just take the Dodgers on for the advantage. And even if they decide against going for that top spot, they could just push for the NLCS at +450.
By Jasmine Baba