The NL East division will most likely come down to three teams this season — the Braves, Phillies, and Mets. And with just over 40 games to go on the regular-season schedule, this race could become very dependent on each team’s remaining matchups.
According to a post by The Ringer’s Zach Kram this morning, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and New York are projected to finish with 85, 84, and 83 wins, respectively, leaving the margin for error incredibly slim for all three. And unfortunately, of those three teams, it’s Atlanta that actually has the tougher path to travel, at least when it comes to its remaining opponents.
In his post, Kram looks at each MLB contender’s “gimme” games — matchups with non-contending or last-place opponents (such as the Rangers, Orioles, Diamondbacks, Nationals… etc.). By his count, the Braves have six such games left on the 2021 schedule, compared to a combined 21 for the Mets and Phillies.
Remaining “gimme” games
Phillies (13) – Pirates x4 / Cubs x3 / Nationals x3 / Orioles x3
Mets (8) – Nationals x8
Braves (6) – Nationals x3 / Orioles x3
Even further, according to a tweet by NBC’s Corey Seidman today, 27 of the Phillies’ 44 remaining games are against the six-worst teams in the NL, plus three more against the worst team in the AL.
Meanwhile, while Atlanta’s remaining slate shouldn’t keep them out of the postseason, the Braves will play a combined 13 games against the Giants, Dodgers, and Padres — three of the best teams in the league, including a San Diego club that just got its superstar back in Fernando Tatis Jr.
Of course, a lot could change in just the next few days. The Mets are about to begin a tough set with the best team in baseball in the Giants, and after already three-straight losses, a series defeat to San Francisco could put New York 5-6 games out of the race by midweek. And that’s to go with the Braves, who’ll play three against the Marlins, which perhaps isn’t as dangerous an opponent as earlier in the year but is currently on a four-game winning streak nonetheless. Even still, it’s absolutely imperative that Atlanta at least wins two out of three in Miami, given the Phillies are spending its first three days of the current week in Phoenix as the D’Backs are literally the worst team in MLB.
There’s nothing we can do about it, but it’s still important to know what’s ahead on the schedule. The Braves should enjoy a fairly easy final 40ish games of the regular season, but just know that the Phillies’ path is even more favorable (as is the Mets in some ways). Regardless, Atlanta just needs to continue what it’s been doing over the last 7-10 days. The remaining schedule won’t be much of a factor if Atlanta simply keeps winning 75-80% of its games.