Braves Check: September 21, 2009

Seven consecutive wins weren’t good enough to scare Ryan Howard and the Phillies into prolonging the Braves’ continuing status as a contender.  The Braves finished last week with a series loss to the Phillies, leaving them 5.5 games out of a playoff spot with 13 to play.

Mathematical elimination could come as soon as this week, but it will likely wait until the weekend at the earliest.  Believe it or not, but the Braves were still technically alive on September 26, 2007 after 158 games, so they’ll need a nice run over the next week and a half to last any longer.  They do appear set for a winning season, needing only three wins to guarantee such a result.

Last Week’s Stats

Most of the regulars in the batting order had solid weeks.  Garret Anderson was the biggest exception, and his wOBA has now fallen to .313, which would make 2009 his worst season since 1996, his first full season as an Angels regular.  Nate McLouth and Yunel Escobar didn’t fare much better, especially considering the latter’s recent trip into Bobby Cox’s doghouse.  Adam LaRoche and Brian McCann had excellent weeks at the plate, as did Matt Diaz.

Javier Vazquez and Tommy Hanson had the best starts of the week, each pitching 7 shutout innings, although the latter laid an egg in his second start before the rains came on Sunday.  Jurrjens and Hudson each pitched 7 innings in their starts as well, allowing one and three runs, respectively.  Derek Lowe allowed 2 runs in 2 innings in his start.

The bullpen was up-and-down all week.  Rafael Soriano and Vladimir Nunez provided the “down,” the former allowing 4 runs in preserving a 6-0 lead against the Phillies.  Eric O’Flaherty was one of the brighter spots, giving up just one run over 5 innings in 4 appearances.

The Road Ahead

The Mets and Nationals will host the Braves for three games apiece this week.  I suppose there’s still technically a chance that they’ll stay in contention if the Rockies completely implode, but I’m not betting on it.

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4 thoughts on “Braves Check: September 21, 2009

  1. Well, would a 4-7 finish for the Rockies count as a complete implosion? That seem at least somewhat plausible. Then if the Braves could win tonight against the Mets, take two of three from the Marlins, and go 6-1 in seven remaining games against the Nats, again all plausible things, then that gets them there.

    Granted, the confluence of several moderately likely things usually results in a pretty unlikely thing overall, but still.

    If you believe in coolstandings.com and you believe in standard win probability charts for single games, then as of right now, the Braves have a better chance of making the playoffs than a team entering the bottom of the 9th down by 3 runs has of winning that game. So I guess you could say the wild card spot is still in a save situation for the Rockies.

  2. And I know I’m obviously not the first person to say this about this season, but obviously there’d be a lot more to talk about right now if there were two wild card spots per league. You’d have the Rangers, Mariners, Twins/Tigers, and Rays all competing for one spot in the AL, and the Braves, Marlins, Giants, and Cubs battling for a spot in the NL. Suddenly half the schedule becomes directly playoff-relevant over the final week.

  3. We’ve been watching a lot of Mythbusters lately at home, and if you’ve seen the show, you’ll understand when I say that a Braves’ postseason run is still “plausible.” Right now they’re testing the final parts of the myth, and by this weekend they’ll figure out whether or not they’re going to have to resort to C4 to make MacGyver’s escape plan work.

    Everything you’ve said is correct, and there is still a possibility that the Braves will prevail that lies somewhere between “pie in the sky” and “unlikely.”

    We’re also on the same page on the two wild card issue. Adding a second WC team and a one-game playoff to face the #1 division winner would reward the #1 seed. At the same time, there would be added incentive to win your division, since each WC team’s chances would be diminished. That, and a Braves’ 2009 playoff berth would be closer to “confirmed” than “plausible.”

  4. I’m going to try to prolong the “save situation” analogy all the way up until the Braves are eliminated. So, taking a look at a win expectancy chart, I guess one could say the first two batters have gotten on base, and the tying run is now batting with nobody out.

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