Braves won’t benefit from new playoff format

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As of Wednesday morning, the Braves have just 11 games remaining on their 2020 regular-season schedule, and this year’s National League playoff field is beginning to take shape. Six of the eight available postseason slots from the Senior Circuit feature teams with playoff odds at 70% or better

 

NL Playoff Field (70% odds or better)

  • Dodgers — 100%
  • Padres — 100%
  • Cubs — 99.9%
  • Braves — 100%
  • Marlins — 72.7%
  • Phillies — 76.7% 

 

With that much certainty for three-fourths of the field, given how much separation currently exists between the Dodgers and Braves, the rest of September isn’t necessarily about trying to make the playoffs but instead maintaining a beneficial seeding in the upcoming tournament. 

Here’s how the NL field looks (seeding-wise), as of Wednesday…

  • Seed 1: Dodgers 
  • Seed 2: Cubs 
  • Seed 3: Braves 
  • Seed 4: Padres 
  • Seed 5: Marlins 
  • Seed 6 : Cardinals 
  • Seed 7: Phillies 
  • Seed 8: Giants 

 

At the start of this week, the Braves entered the current Orioles series with the no. 2 seed, but a loss in Game 1 on Monday pushed them down to the third seed. With the Braves and Cubs winning on Tuesday, both teams enter Wednesday with matching overall records. However, Chicago’s better intra-division mark gives them the upper hand and breaks the tie. 

 

Which Seed Is Better?

In most cases, having the lower seed is the ultimate goal, but given any team can beat another in a three-game series, it’s far less significant when compared to the actual matchup.

The format is simple in 2020: The Wild Card will be a best-of-three series. The four teams that survive the opening round will then match up in a best-of-five Division Series. And lastly, the two remaining teams from the two LDS series will meet in a seven-game League Series, which will determine who plays the top AL team in the 2020 World Series. 

As you can see above, right now (Wednesday, Sept. 16) the Braves are slated to face the Cardinals in a three-game series in Round 1 — a rematch of 2019’s NLDS. Although, with the shortened season and new rules that have followed, the Braves and Cards haven’t met during the regular season this year, meaning a potential playoff matchup could be the first the two see each other since last October (wouldn’t the Braves love to get some revenge in that series?). 

However, with a strong finish to the regular season, which still features intra-division games versus the Mets and Marlins, the Braves could very well improve their seeding and take back the no. 2 spot from the Cubs, resulting in a potential best-of-three versus the Phillies in the postseason (a team the Braves have managed a 5-5 record against this season). 

But the truth is, seeds 5 thru 8 are still a toss-up — the Marlins, Cardinals, Phillies, and Giants are all within one or two games from one another, meaning that there’s really no telling who the Braves will face in their Round 1 series. 

 

It’s Going To Be A Grind

On Tuesday, MLB released its schedule for the 2020 postseason, which will feature all World Series games at Globe Life Field (Rangers’ home ballpark) in Arlington, TX. The playoffs will officially begin with the first game of the AL Wild Card round on Tuesday, Sept. 29, and end with the last game of the World Series (Game 7 if necessary) on Oct. 28. 

Being successful in the postseason this year will require some serious stamina. If each of the Wild Card, League Series, Division Series, and World Series require all necessary games, the 2020 World Champion will have played a whopping 22 games in 29 days.

  • Wild Card round — Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 (three games in three days)
  • 3 DAYS OFF
  • NLDS — Oct. 6-10 (five games in five days)
  • 1 DAY OFF
  • NLCS — Oct. 12-18 (seven games in seven days)
  • 1 DAY OFF
  • World Series — Oct. 20-28 (seven games in nine days)

 

For a team like the Braves, who are barely able to muster enough quality starters as it is, there will need to be one or two pitchers make some huge strides from now until then. 

Hopefully, Cole Hamels’ 2020 debut on Wednesday will start something extraordinary from the veteran lefty, and with Max Fried expected back Friday, some better results from the starting staff should ensue. Still, the Braves will need a heroic rookie performance from Anderson and another young starter if they are going to make it through this grind. The Braves better hope the last two outings they’ve seen from Kyle Wright and Huascar Ynoa are sustainable. 

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