The Braves kicked off their final home series with a bang, shelling the second place Phillies 8-3. The win cut Atlanta’s magic number down to four with nine games remaining, six of which come against their rivals from Philadelphia. If it had not sunk in already, it’s really beginning to feel real for Braves fans who have not seen their team in the postseason since 2013.
That may not seem like a longtime, but for an organization that has produced so much success since the early 1990s, it’s felt like an eternity.
With three home games versus Philadelphia this weekend, Atlanta has an opportunity to put the NL East to rest. Braves veteran, Julio Teheran (9-8, 3.95 ERA) will take the mound Friday night against Nick Pivetta. Teheran has faced the Phillies three times this season, posting a 1-0 record with a unimpressive 4.91 ERA. On the other hand, Pivetta has been quite in reliable in four starts versus Atlanta. The second-year player is 1-1 with a 3.43 ERA.
Saturday’s potential division-clinching pitching duel will be a dandy. Braves ace Mike Foltynewicz (11-10, 2.90 ERA) will match up with former Cy-Young winner Jake Arrietta (10-9, 3.77 ERA). Not surprisingly, Foltynewicz has done some of his best work against the Phils, carrying a 1.96 ERA over four starts. The Bravos have only seen Arrietta once, and that did not go so well. He went 6.2 innings without allowing a run in a win.
If the Braves cannot clinch the division by Saturday, it is going to be very tough to do in the series finale on Sunday. Cy Young candidate, Aaron Nola (16-5, 2.44 ERA) is scheduled to pitch versus Anibal Sanchez (6-6, 3.01 ERA). Although, the Braves have been one of the peskier teams to face Nola, who is 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA versus Atlanta. Sanchez may not carry the clout that Nola does, but there have been few pitchers as consistent in 2018.
Regardless of whether the Braves clinch the division or not, expect them to carry on with business as usual in their final two series of the season. While wrapping up the NL East is their main priority, there is still plenty of seeding to be decided over these final weeks. It’s very possibly the Braves will be playing the Los Angeles Dodgers, last year’s NL champion, in the opening round. You can bet they would definitely like home field advantage in that series. Both the Braves and Dodgers have a record of 85-68 coming into today.