There are a few different scenarios that end with the Atlanta Braves earning a Wildcard berth into the playoffs. They currently have a 1.5 game lead over the San Diego Padres and they are one game behind the San Fransisco Giants in the loss column while being tied in the win column. Both the Padres and Giants have games today while the Braves have off, which will result in all three teams having just three games left in the season.
For the Braves final three games, they are pitching Brandon Beachy, Tommy Hanson, and Tim Hudson against Kyle Kendrick, Cole Hamels, and Vance Worley. The Braves have the pitching advantage in just one of the games, the series' and season's final game with Hudson facing off against Worley. Beachy against Kendrick is close to even, considering Beachy's lack of experience. The Phillies will likely keep a few starters on the bench for each game as they have already locked up the division.
While the Braves are playing the Phillies, the Giants and Padres are playing their final three games against each other. The Padres are sending Clayton Richard, Tim Stauffer and Mat Latos against Barry Zito, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez. On its face, it seems as if the Giants have the advantage here. I would imagine the Giants win two-of-three, but that is far from a certainty. If the Giants do this, then the Braves would need just one victory to lock up a playoff spot.
Tonight's games, which feature Jon Garland of the Padres against Tom Gorzelanny of the Cubs and Madison Bumgarner of the Giants against Barry Enright of the Diamondbacks, will greatly affect what the Braves need to do in their upcoming series. If both teams lose, the Braves would only need to win one game against the Phillies to assure a playoff spot, regardless of what happens in the Giants and Padres series.
If both teams win tonight, then the Braves will be in a tougher predicament. If this happened, and the Braves won just one of their games against the Phillies and the Padres swept the Giants, then the Braves would play the Giants in a one game playoff. The Giants have Tim Lincecum saved for a potential one game playoff.
In a more likely scenario, if both teams win and the Braves win one game against the Phillies while the Padres win two-of-three against the Giants, the Padres and Braves would play a one game playoff for the Wildcard. There are also a few other scenarios if one of the teams win tonight while the other loses. Tomorrow afternoon, I will make a post that makes everything a bit more clear.
So, the Braves still need to win games in order to make the playoffs. Simply hoping for Padre losses will not get the job done. Even so, the odds that the Braves make the playoffs are still rather high. ESPN gives the Braves a 92.2% chance to win the Wildcard, with the Giants having a 90.6% chance of making the playoffs. The Padres have the worst odds of making the playoffs at just 17.3%
After my long-winded article, you can see that the Braves still have the upper hand but need to end their season on a winning note. For the off day, becoming a Cubs and Diamondbacks fan is the appropriate move.