Braves playoff hopes still alive

If the Braves truly were dead after they were swept by the Reds last weekend, then whey I did wake up today and start looking for a pulse, while evaluating their remaining schedule and the ones that await the clubs in front of them in both the National League East and Wild Card standings?  

This job calls for me to be more of a realist than an optimist.  But now that the Braves have provided reason to wonder courtesy of their 5-1 road trip that concluded with a sweep of the Cardinals, I don’t see the benefit of treating the remainder of the regular season a three-week death march.  

Sitting 7 games back in the division and six games back in the Wild Card with just 19 games remaining, the odds of the Braves making the playoffs rival those of Lane Kiffin actually making it throughout this week without saying anything that will further incite the Florida Gators.

But I’m quite certain members of the Philadelphia media were saying something similar when the Phillies were six games back with just 19 games remaining during the 2007 season.  Standing at 76-67 at that time, the Phils would go 13-6 down the stretch to overtake the Mets, who went 6-13 during that same stretch.  

That year’s version of the Rockies sat 3 games back in the Wild Card standings through 143 games and then managed to win 15 of their final 19 games to set up the one-game playoff with the Padres.  

Looking solely at these examples provides further reason to believe the Braves would have to win something like 16 of their remaining 19 games to gain a chance.  But really, the only reason I presented these examples was to provide the reminder that crazy things sometimes do occur during the final weeks of the season.  

“It’s possible and until we’re mathematically eliminated, we’re going to go out with the feeling that we’ve got a shot,” Chipper Jones said.  

Mention of the 2007 season also allowed me to present one of the funnier press box lines that I’ve heard.   After Smarty Jones was upset in the Belmont Stakes and lost his bid to complete thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, one Phillies scribe proclaimed, “Typical Philadelphia athlete.”  

Instead of being the chokers, the Phillies were the benefactors of the collapses the Mets experienced the past two seasons.  To have any hope of winning the division, the Braves will need to sweep a few of their remaining six series and have the Phils change roles this year.  

The Braves benefit from the fact that 13 of their final 19 games are against the Mets and Nationals.  But it’s not like they’ve thoroughly dominated either of these two teams  —  Mets (7-5,  Nationals (7-4)–  this year.

During their final 18 games of the season, the Marlins are scheduled to play two against the Cardinals, three against the Braves and six against the Phillies.  They’re also slated to play four games against the Reds, who have lost six of eight since exiting Turner Field with the sweep.  

Further hindering the Braves division hopes is the fact that the Phillies play 11 of their final 20 games against teams that currently have a losing record.  The only teams they’ll play with winning records are the Braves and Marlins.  

The most encouraging part about the Rockies remaining schedule is that eight of their remaining 17 games will be played against the Cardinals, Giants and Dodgers.  

The Braves need the Giants to complete their three-game sweep of the Rockies this week and then fall apart during a 16-game stretch that will include just seven games against teams (Cubs and Dodgers) with a winning record.

9 Comments

Seriously, Mark, why does Matt Diaz keep getting thrown at? He must have been hit like 20 times in the past month. What gives? If you answered this earlier sorry…

Diaz really dives at the plate, making it hard for him to get out of the way. He also kills the outside stuff, which makes them try to get him off the plate. Then there is that part about him being a baller, and sometimes he will take one for the team as well. It adds up to a lot of bruises. I think I heard he has been plunked 12 times this season.

It is getting a little exciting again. The Braves need to go on one of those 10 game winning streaks like the Rockies just had or many other teams this year. They have the pitching to do so. We all know that Chipper has had an off year. I think Chipper would be the first to admit that his performance has cost the Braves at least five games (average of maybe 220 with little production). Hopefully he can finish strong and get them close. It would really be a shame for a team with 4 legitimate #1 starters does not make the playoffs. Lowe is probably a #3 which is not too bad either. Soriano has blown a few, but I am quite certain the Phillies would take his performance over Lidge. If the Braves win every game (which is virtually impossible), they would definitely get in since 3 are against the Phillies and a few against the Marlins.

Keep it up guys – not time to be thinking about next year yet!!

Three quick points – chipper has hit 220 in the second half, not for the season. Also, I am expecting LaRoache to bat Clean-up for the immediate future with McCann and Anderson dropped a spot in the order. He has a better OBP and obviously more power. Esky should be back at the #2 spot with Prado 7th or 8th. He has struggled since his coming back.

GO BRAVES.

From the last thread:

“The Braves paid Lowe $15 million and he’s been about worth it” ? You have to be kidding me. Wren overpaid to begin with and Lowe has had an average season. There could be an argument made that he is the 4th starter on this staff and he is making “Ace” money. You really aren’t going to defend that overeager statement, are you? Whip out some stats, boy!!!!

OK, I’ll bite. First of all, I’m not your boy. Secondly, clubs pay $4.5 million per WAR on the Free Agent Market. The Braves have paid Lowe $13,333,333 so far this season (pro-rating the salary based on the number of games). Lowe has produced 3.1 WAR this season. That is worth $13,950,000. So, yeah, he’s on track to be worth exactly, or slightly more than, what the Braves paid for him.

I won’t argue that Wren overpaid, I think Wren could’ve signed Lowe for less if he hadn’t panicked when Smoltz bolted and taken the time to properly negotiate. But in terms of value, Lowe has been worth his contract.

And don’t forget about that gem of a game that Lowe threw to start the season off in Philidelphia (a hitters park) when he shut down the World Champion Phillies. (God I hate saying that.)

PW, you know bill is just going to accuse you of making up that WAR stat. We all know that wins and losses are the only true measure of a pitcher’s worth.

Still, it was a valiant effort.

For the record, AJ Burnett and johan Santana have less wins and cost more money than Derek Lowe. There are only 10 pitchers with more wins than Lowe in the majors, after a win tonight that could be down to 6-8. Lowe faces off against the other team’s aces on a nightly basis and is 5 games over .500 on a team that is only 8 games over. If he wasn’t an ace, wouldn’t he have a losing record facing off with the other aces? The fact that the Braves have 3 other pitchers having very good years (and still less wins than Lowe) is a good thing, not a bad one.
Lester, Santana, Billingsley, Hamels, and Burnett all have less wins than Lowe. He has done just fine this season, and may end up with 16 or 17 wins. Smoltz won more than 15 games as a Brave only twice. Lowe will probably be halfway there in one season. We brought him in to win games. He has done that.

I think Lowe has done a good job. I would just like to see his salary re-appropriated to Hudson/Vazquez/LaRoche. If you take away 3 of his atrocious starts, his ERA would be a full point lower.

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