The Atlanta Braves' playoff race with the St. Louis Cardinals is becoming tighter and more unpredictable by the day.
At the beginning of the month, the Braves were written down as a lock for the wild card and even had a genuine chance to take the division from the Phillies.
But now, as the month continues, the Braves' spot in the postseason is becoming less definite, and wins seem more difficult to come by.
Braves fans are beginning to question whether their team will even make the postseason, and if, once there, they will have the ability to contend for a championship.
The Braves have watched their wild card lead dwindle from 7.5 games to 4 games in the past week.
However, while this is a legitimate concern, the Braves' situation is actually much less dire than it may appear.
First of all, only 12 days remain before the end of the regular season, which does not give the Cardinals much room for mistakes.
The Braves' magic number is only eight, which puts them at a great advantage because there is not much that can occur within the remaining games of the season. And especially because the schedules of the two teams favors the Braves.
The next seven of the Braves' remaining 10 games are versus the Mets, Marlins and Nationals, with whom the Braves are at an overall series of 27-19.
This is a winning percentage of .586.
As long as the Braves continue a similar winning percentage against these teams, which they should easily manage, their magic number will be reduced to four.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, are 19-12 against their remaining opponents, which is a winning percentage of .613.
If they manage to continue this winning percentage, the Cardinals will be handed five losses, which is more than enough for the Braves to clinch the playoffs.
Along with this, there are a few other reasons that should guarantee the Braves a playoff appearance.
For one of the few times of the season, the Braves have a completely healthy hitting lineup, which can be quite formidable.
Also, while the Braves are struggling through many pitching injuries, the amazing depth of the pitching staff is holding up the team.
Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado and Mike Minor have been the amazing pitching prospects they were predicted to be.
This, along with the stellar pitching of Tim Hudson and Brandon Beachy and the hopeful return of Tommy Hanson, should be enough to carry the Braves into the playoffs.
For these reasons, it seems the Braves will easily avoid a 2007 Mets-esque collapse.
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