The Braves have faced their gauntlet of division opponents and individually squeezed the life out of their playoff hopes. On August 13th, Atlanta began by taking two out of three from the New York Mets. They followed it ten days later by sweeping the Mets in their own ballpark. Just this past weekend, the Braves cruised to the first three wins of a four-game set with the Nationals, defeating Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, lowering their magic number to eleven. And last night, they continued their run of marvelous play, as Mike Foltynewicz easily outdueled Aaron Nola.
The Phillies now sit 2.5 games back of the Chicago Cubs for the second Wild Card spot with two teams (Brewers and Diamondbacks) in front of them. With eighteen games remaining for the Phils, it’s far from impossible, but they need to be making the most of the rest of their Aaron Nola starts. After the game, Bryce Harper talked about the Braves, who have won 18 of their last 21, are only three games behind the Dodgers for the best record in the NL, and sit on top of the NL East by 9.5 games.
Here is what he said, via The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Scott Lauber, “As a team they’re the best in our division. One through four right there [in the batting order], their gauntlet is pretty tough. I think they’re hitting on all cylinders right now and I think they have all year. I think you can learn from a group like that.”
The Braves are the hottest they have been all year, and despite all the talk about the other teams in the NL East before the season, it’s been Atlanta that has done all the damage inside the division, which is why they have built such a cushion with three weeks to play. Since being swept by the Phillies to begin the season, the Braves have won seven of their last ten against them. They’ve won five of their previous seven against the Nationals, who have been red-hot against everyone else. And the Mets have barely put up a fight, losing 11 of their 16 games versus the Braves with three more remaining.
Atlanta’s getting healthy and coming together at the right time, and they are beginning to look like more-and-more of a threat to the Dodgers with each passing day.