Atlanta Braves Must Solve the Nationals to Have a Shot at October

Brett KettyleCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2009

WASHINGTON - APRIL 20:  Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with teammates after a 3-2 victory against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on April 20, 2009 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

With 10 games left to go in the 2009 season, the Atlanta Braves are currently four games behind the Colorado Rockies in the hunt for the Wild Card.

To say the least, the 2009 season has been extremely frustrating for Braves fans. Whether it be Bobby Cox’s decisions on bullpen management, Yunel Escobar’s lack of hustle or clutch hitting disappearing for games at a time, the Braves have not played as well as they have shown capable in other times throughout the year.

However, the most frustrating thing about the Atlanta Braves (not just in 2009, but the last five years) has been the Braves mediocrity against baseball’s worst team, the Washington Nationals.

Since the Nationals came into existence, the Braves record, head-to-head against them have been 10-9 in 2005, 10-8 in 2006, 11-7 in 2007 and 6-12 in 2009.

6-12? Against the Nationals? A team that won only 59 games all year?

In 2008, the Nationals were above .500 against three teams, and the Braves accounted for over 20 percent of the Nationals wins for the year.

While 2005-2007 were disappointing, 2008 was just a disaster against baseball’s worst team.

2009 has been better, as we are currently 7-4 against the Nationals, who seem to be destined for their second No. 1 overall draft pick in two years.

Regardless of how the Braves do over the last 10 games, it will be difficult to catch the Rockies, but the only way that they have a chance is if they can finally solve the Washington Nationals.

With seven games remaining against the Nationals, the Braves would seem to have the most favorable schedule of any club still competing for a wild card berth, but given the Braves track record against the Nationals, they will face an uphill battle that is greater than expected.

While the Braves need a number of things to go right to even have a shot going into October, they will have to solve the mystery that is the Washington Nationals over the coming days.