Braves can decide their fate over the next two weeks

dfu19033034 braves at phillies

After being hot for almost two full months, the Braves have finally scuffled a bit after the All-Star break. They have lost six of their last eight games, and seen their lead in the division shrink by three, as the Washington Nationals have continued their scorching string of play. The Phillies are also creeping up on Atlanta, now 5.5 games back and winners in five of their last six.

The Braves did not take advantage of the lowly Royals, losing both games at home in discouraging fashion. The offense that once made this team look unstoppable has gone unexpectedly cold as they enter the most critical part of their schedule to date.

Atlanta heads to Philadelphia this weekend for a three-game set. Since being swept by Philly to open the season, the Braves have bested the Phils twice, taking four of their last six meetings. They then head to Washington for three, who lead the season series versus Atlanta 5-4 and might be the hottest team in baseball. Getting the best of those two matchups would halt all the momentum of the Nationals and Phillies and could decide the fate of the division as the calendar turns to August. You lose both of them, and the NL East is a dogfight the rest of the year.

It’s time for the Braves to decide their fortune. If they can’t break their skid this week, things don’t get any easier after that. They play the pesky Reds, who always seem to give Atlanta fits, for four games following the Nationals. Then, they head to Minnesota for three with the first-place Twins. It’s not unfathomable that the Braves could find themselves out of first place before mid-August if their bats do not come back to life. However, a promising stretch of play over the next two weeks, and Atlanta could be home free.

The Braves schedule eases up significantly following their series with Minnesota. They play the Marlins seven times and the Mets six times in their next sixteen games. The Braves are a combined 16-6 this year against those teams – a primary factor as to why they have a 4.5 game cushion heading to Philadelphia.

While the Reds and Twins could prove to be menacing; they will be much less intimidating if Atlanta can take care of business over the next week against their division rivals. There is nothing more frustrating for teams that have momentum and are chasing first place than having that momentum halted by the team sitting atop the division.

The Braves need to be looking at this week as an opportunity rather than trying to hang on for dear life. They have proven throughout 100+ games they are one of the two best teams in the National League. This is a chance for the Braves to kick their rivals while their down – sending a message – the NL East runs through Atlanta. 

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