Dan Perry of FoxSports.com said today that he considers the Braves 3-1 favorites at this point to close the deal and win the NL East. I agree. 3-to-1 sounds about right to me.
Here’s why Atlanta has the edge…
First of all, obviously, they’re already in first place, three full games up on the Phillies, who just suffered a four-game sweep AT HOME at the hands of the Astros. But beyond the standings, Atlanta has the easier schedule from here on out.
The Braves, owners of baseball’s best home record (44-17), have 20 home games remaining, compared to the Phillies’ 16 games left at home. Also, Atlanta will play only 3 more games this season against a quality team, other than the Phillies. They’ll play a three-game set vs the Cardinals next month at Turner Field. The Braves will not see a single comfortably-above-.500 team on the road for the remainder of this season.
The Phillies, conversely, are about to fly west for 3-game sets in San Diego and Los Angeles. To make that road trip even trip even less pleasant… rather than enjoying a scheduled off-day that was to immediately follow this 6-game west coast trip, the Phillies will instead fly to Denver to make up a game that was rained out at Coors Field earlier this year.
Oh, and one more thing to consider regarding the schedule… If the division race isn’t decided by the end of September, the Bravos have the edge there as well. The Phillies and Braves will wrap up the season with a 3-game set AT TURNER FIELD, October 1-3. That is the regular season equivalent, for the Braves, to having games 6 & 7 of a seven-game series on your home field.
As for the makeup of these two division rivals, the Phillies have compiled and impressive “big-3” at the top of their rotation (Halladay/Hamels/Oswalt). However, that trio is no more dangerous or effective than Atlanta’s trio of Hudson, Jurrjens and Hanson. And when you compare the bottom of each rotation and the bullpens of these two teams, it’s apparent that the Braves still have the advantage in the pitching department. On the other hand, the Phillies have more offensive thunder, when firing on all cylinders.
At this point, I don’t believe either team is clearly or substantially better than the other. But because the Braves already hold a 3-game advantage and have the easier schedule from this point forward, Phillies fans have good reason to watch the Wild Card race more closely than the NL East standings.
Having said all of that, Philadelphia is only 3 games back with 30+ games remaining. The Phillies are still very much in this thing, and this race is far from over. Pennant fever is back in Atlanta! There are roughly 5 weeks of baseball left in this 2010 season, and they should be a helluva lot of fun!
Throw in your 2 cents below! Think the Braves will seal the deal?
PS… find me on Twitter, @FriedBasBallATL
Tags: playoffs, Will The Braves Make the Playoffs
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