Thursday, August 19, 2021
It’s crazy, this time last week, the Braves were just barely over .500 and sported playoff odds under 30%. But now in the midst of a six-game winning streak, Atlanta’s record stands at 65-56 and its chances to reach the postseason at nearly 70%. According to FanGraphs, the Braves are in a better position than the Padres (44.2% odds), Reds (40.1%), and the Phillies of course (27.3%) – a trio of teams that seemed to be on a different level for much of the season thus far. As we sit her today, the narrative has changed dramatically. With a plus-86 run differential, the Braves are the fourth-best club in the National League, and only the Dodgers are this hot. Hell, more of this and Atlanta could find itself with a rather comfortable lead in the NL East, which, just a week ago seemed like a pipe dream.
Which brings us to this weekend’s series in Baltimore…
The Braves will begin a three-game set with the Orioles tomorrow, an opponent that, as expected, has struggled mightily. At just 38-81, Baltimore owns baseball’s worst record, not to mention they’ve dropped 14 consecutive games. As you probably already knew, this is a very bad baseball team, and one that Atlanta should easily take care of.
Meanwhile, the Phillies will also begin a cake walk of a series as they head to Phoenix to take on the D’Backs. Arizona hasn’t necessarily been as dreadful as Baltimore, but we’re talking a difference of just two wins here. Regardless, while Atlanta has been red-hot, Philly has stumbled into a late-season stretch of bad play. Say the Braves sweep the Orioles and the Phillies drop two of three versus the D’Backs. That’s another two games for the good guys, giving Atlanta a 5.5-game lead in the division on Monday and a nice little cushion for the final month of the regular season. A lot can happen in September, but if the Braves simply take care of business in this next series, it should be nice little coast to the finish line, putting a bow on what’s been a roller coaster of a 2021 campaign.
Here’s your pitching matchups for this weekend in Baltimore…
Game 1: Friday @ 7:05 PM
(10-7, 3.78 ERA) Max Fried, LHP vs. (0-7, 8.13 ERA) Keegan Akin, LHP
Game 2: Saturday @ 7:05 PM
(8-3, 4.50 ERA) Drew Smyly, LHP vs. (6-12, 6.25 ERA) Matt Harvey, RHP
Game 3: Sunday @ 1:05 PM
TBD vs. (5-5, 3.44 ERA) John Means, LHP