Braves: The race for the NL East could have even bigger playoff implications

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After sweeping the Nationals, the Braves have now won 14 straight, which is tied for the second-longest win streak in franchise history. Over that stretch, the Mets have seen their once 10.5-game lead in the division shrink to just four. With nearly 100 games left to play, the NL East is officially up for grabs again; however, there could be much more at stake than just a fifth straight division title for the Braves.

For the first time in MLB history, the team with the best record in each league will receive a first-round bye. A couple of weeks ago, that seemed like a pipe dream for the Braves, but after a 14-game win streak, they are right in the thick of things for the best record in the National League, which is currently owned by the Mets. Right behind the Mets are the Dodgers and the Padres, who are currently tied for first place in the NL West and three games ahead of the Braves.

I’m not a huge fan of expanded playoffs. I’ve always thought you play 162 games for a reason; half of the league doesn’t need to make the postseason. However, at least the first-round bye adds a little extra emphasis on finishing with the best record in the league during the regular season. This will be something to monitor the rest of the way while the Braves continue to chase down the Mets.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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