Thursday, July 13, 2017

Will the Atlanta Braves continue to improve and make the playoffs?

The Atlanta Braves went 2-4 last week in a pair of series against the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals, and I think this past week said a lot about where the Braves are this point in the season. It also says a lot about where the Braves are headed.

Atlanta lost both of its home games to Houston, 16-4 and 10-4, on Tuesday of last week and Wednesday of last week, respectively.

Against the Nationals, Atlanta split a four-game series, winning 5-2 last Thursday and 13-0 on Saturday. Washington won 5-4 on Friday and 10-5 on Sunday. All of those games were played at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

So far this season, Atlanta is 18-12 against National League East opponents, and they’re 6-7 against the division-leading Nationals. This, coupled with the fact that Atlanta went 2-2 in their most recent series against the Nats (on the road) tells me that the Braves can compete with any of the teams in their division. In fact, if Atlanta hadn’t gotten off to a slow start at the beginning of the season, they’d probably be leading the division right now.

Taking a look at Atlanta’s performance in the Houston series, it was painfully obvious that Atlanta was overmatched by the powerful Astros. The Astros have arguably the best team in all of baseball and could very well be the team to win the World Series later this year. If they don’t, I will be shocked.

Houston is at the point where Atlanta wants to be. They’re loaded with young talent at the plate and on the pitching staff, and they’ve got the record to prove it. Currently, they have a 16.5-game lead over the second-place Angels and Rangers in the American League West standings.

Atlanta is in pretty decent shape heading into the All-Star Break, which began Monday and will end on Friday, when the Braves will play the first of three games against the Arizona Diamondbacks. As of Monday, Arizona was in second place in the NL West standings, 7.5 games began the division-leading Dodgers.

The Major League All-Star Game was scheduled to be played Tuesday in Miami, and this annual event is typically seen as the mid-way point of the season. Teams will play out the rest of July, August and September and that’ll wrap up the season.

If the season were to end today, the Red Sox, the Indians and Astros would win the American League division races and the Yankees would win the Wild Card. In the National League, the Nationals, Brewers and Dodgers would be your division winners and the Diamondbacks would win the Wild Card. Atlanta is fifth in the Wild Card standings.

In the end, there’s a lot of good baseball left to be played, and fans have about 80 more Braves games to look forward to. If Atlanta can continue to steadily improve, they might sew up a Wild Card spot and, even better, they might end up winning their division. Only time will tell.

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