Braves have put themselves in a tough position

Never thought I’d write this, but the Braves really are right where they didn’t want to be  —  one game ahead of the Cardinals in the National League Wild Card race with just three games to play.

Yes the Braves control their own destiny and yes they even have a slight margin for error.  But if you ignore the facts, doesn’t it seem like they are the team that is one game back with three games to play.

This obviously has something to do with the fact that the Braves will spend the next three days playing a Phillies club gunning for its 100th win, while the Cardinals will spend the next three days playing an Astros team that has already compiled 100-plus losses.

Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that the slumbering Braves offense will try to give rookie Randall Delgado necessary support tonight as he matches up against Cliff Lee.    The Braves have scored one run or fewer in three of their past four games.  Lee has allowed one run or less in seven of his last eight starts.

Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that to win the Wild Card entry, there is seemingly a good chance the Braves will have to start Tim Hudson Wednesday.   This would mean Hudson would be unavailable to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series and available only on short rest for Game 2.

There is still a chance the Braves could clinch before Wednesday and set up the possibility of saving Hudson until the start of the Division Series.

But to put themselves in this position, they would likely have to beat Lee tonight and Roy Oswalt on Tuesday.   At the same time, they have to hope Wandy Rodriguez (Monday vs. Jaime Garcia) or Henry Sosa (Tuesday vs. Jake Westbrook) beat the Cardinals one of the next two nights.

The Astros will send Brett Myers to the mound to oppose Chris Carpenter in Wednesday’s regular season finale.  Myers has gone 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his past five starts.

If the Braves have to use Hudson Wednesday, he’ll be going against a collection of Phillies pitchers.  Joe Blanton is likely to start the game and Cole Hamels will likely work a couple innings at some point.The Phillies would like to insert Hamels around the the fifth inning, where he might have a chance to be credited with what would be his 15th victory.

A couple weeks ago there was little reason to think this series would matter.  In fact as recently as Friday, when the Braves claimed a three-game lead with five games remaining, it seemed like they were just a few days away from clinching the Wild Card for the second straight season.

But the Braves totaled just one run during their final two games in Washington D.C. and essentially extended the offensive frustrations that have followed them throughout the month.   They have batted .193 with runners in scoring position over their past 23 games.

Some of the key figures who have struggled with runners in scoring position during this span are Martin Prado (5-for-27), Dan Uggla (5-for-25), Michael Bourn (5-for-24), Chipper Jones (3-for-17) and Jason Heyward (1-for11).

Now this club that has struggled to score runs finds itself hoping to extend the frustrations they have presented Lee in the past.

Lee has gone 1-3 with a 4.21 ERA in 6 starts against the Braves in a Phillies uniform. But he has allowed just one earned run in the his past 17 innings against Atlanta.

With this being Lee’s final start before the playoff start this weekend, he’ll likely be limited to somewhere around 80 pitches and six innings.

As their starting pitchers start backing down and their position players focus on staying healthy for the playoffs, the Phillies might not give the effort that they might have earlier in the season.  But having won just one of their past nine games, they would like to gain at least a little momentum as they enter the playoffs.

 

 

 

29 Comments

Ugh. That’s all I can say.

Being a Braves fan since 1975, this is undoubtedly the most frustrating thing I’ve ever had to endure, watching and listening daily as the team squanders away what had been a fantastic season. I don’t think the pitching has been that bad overall, and the pitching has certainly been what has gotten us to this point. The offense has sputtered at best this whole season, and has effectively broken down by the side of the road this month. But I am still hopefully, but the realist in me concedes that even if we make it in as the Wild Card, we won’t last very long.

The Braves need to stop hoarding their young pitching and start using it to get more solid, more consistent offense. Having great pitching doesn’t mean a whole lot if you can’t score any runs.

The Braves are 1st in swinging at the first pitch
The Braves are 1st in striking out
The Braves are LAST in walks.
The Braves need discipline at the plate!!!!
It is a proven fact that the more pitches you see the best you hit the pitcher. The are constantly hitting, trying to hit, when they are behind I’m the count and at the mercy of the pitcher who DOES NOT have to throw a good pitch!!! Get us a REAL HITTING COACH and get us OUT of these bad habits.

Even if the Phillies have thrown it in neutral as they gear up for the playoffs, it would seem they could find themselves with the incentive of keeping a division foe out by ramping things up for a couple games. They might be mostly concerned with staying healthy, but pride is always on the line, in every game.

If the Cards sweep the Astros, we’ll have to sweep to Phils to avoid a play-in game. We haven’t swept a team since mid-August and have only won 1 series in September. Given how badly the team has played this month, is there really any reason to think things are going to change RIGHT NOW?

I’m sending ALL of the good vibes I can to the team this week… I guess I just want to be prepared if we go 1-2 and the Cards sweep the Astros… which right now seems the most likely outcome… *sigh*

against this offense, Lee can stretch 80 pitches in 7 innings.

I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment. It just seems that lately , maybe too lately, the Braves pitching doesn’t know what to do when they get 2 strikes on a batter and the Braves hitters don’t wait on a strike before swinging (Chipper Jones in particular). Right now it’s a mind game more than anything and too late for any hypnotism or voodoo. Confidence is a fickle thing. It’s time to buckle up, take command — bangs no whimpers!!!

Other observation and comment:
Has Michael Bourn forgot how to bunt.
We need a lineup with our best contact hitters instead of all the free-swingers we have in the current lineup.

While our offense has sucked… there are two different schools of thought. If you sit back and take a strike you are simply allowing the pitcher to get ahead in the count. I personally like an aggressive approach, but it can bite you. However, I would much rather my players attack the baseball than play reactive. Put the fear of God in pitchers and subsequently you get their pitch count up… ESPECIALLY W/ FASTBALLS!! The approach is not what has hurt us, it’s the situational hitting. Bases loaded and nobody out… no runs… runner on 3rd and less than two outs. We have beaten ourselves situationally. An aggressive approach is fine as long as you understand how to use it. The braves are flailing instead of driving fastballs early in counts and adjusting to breaking balls and offspeed pitches late in counts. They guess at pitches entirely too much behind in counts!! You sit fastball and adjust to anything else. If you are looking for something offspeed it is impossible to gear back up for fastball… i.e. Brian McCann.

Jesus, Linebrink is up.

a triple by Victorino… DOOM… The Braves are dooommmedd

I almost feel sorry for you. Almost.
What are all those pitching prospects doing for you now? Your GM is a clown.

Our pitching prospects are outpitching our veterans and keeping these games close. It’s our offense that is costing us games.

Your offense would be better if you used some prospects for somebody like Pence. He was yours for the taking, but thanks. He completes our lineup. The prospects we gave up are nothing more than the name implies.

I can’t argue with that. I wanted Pence. Bourne met the need we had for a CF and true lead off hitter, but Pence’s bat is what we needed more. Of course, who knows if he would have even continued the way he has in Philly? Apparently, Atlanta is a place where hitters come to die…

Man – we can’t even beat the Phillies when they don’t care about winning… They’re the better team. Hands down.

WHEW!

Jesusssss….WOW. Maybe the Astros will just do us a favor and sweep the Cards. I wouldn’t mind going into the playoffs on a huge losing streak, maybe we’d finally luck into a few wins and take the 5 game series?

Is Phan really on here talking smack? It’s a clean slate when the playoffs start. Does he not remember last year when his beloved Phillies were a lock to make it to the World Series???

Ever since the Phils finally won a division in 07 they’ve been WS champions each year apparently. Or at least that’s what the delusional phans think.

Not every year. But just as many WS wins as the Braves won in 14 years of lording over the division, I recall.
And Koovoon, bring it on. I would love to face the Braves in the NLCS. The Phillies are so far inside the Braves players’ heads it is almost sad. But alas, I don’t see it happening. And, truth to tell, neither do you, I am sure.

This team is by far the worst offensive team in MLB right now. They have a nightmare training staff. They have a dumbass front offense and Fredo is clueless. I am embarrassed to be a Braves fan right now. We are relying on the Houston Astros to get us into the playoffs. How pathetic.

Haha though it would be one hell of an anti-climactic run for the Cards if they came back only to get swept by the Astros.

Man – we can’t even beat the Phillies when they don’t care about winning… They’re the better team. Hands down.

B-Mac says he is not hurt but he sure ended most of his swings last night with one hand

Did Phan just tell me to bring it on? I don’t play for the team man, I just root for them. It’s pathetic how much trash talk you partake in. There is no question Philly is the better team…but there was no question Atlanta had the best team in MLB at least 5 of those 14 years. The best team doesn’t always win in the playoffs, because it’s a crapshoot. Best of luck in the playoffs…contrary to you and other Philly fans’ beliefs, you’re going to need it. Regardless of how good your team is.

It really is sad. It’s like the only thing in life they have to look forward to is their sports team winning. Hopefully if they lose, the phans will lose all honor in their lives and disembowel themselves. I see a Milwaukee – Yankees WS as of now.

Maybe you clowns could help your team by actually showing up to some of these defining games. How can the Braves not sellout these games? What a joke of a fanbase.

Yeah I’ll go ahead and make the short drive from Toronto. Standard…

You want to pick me up on your way? Wisconsin is only a slight detour for you after all.

Ya when u come thru NC hit me up too.

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