Braves vs. Phillies: Why the Phillies May Let the Braves Enter the Playoffs
The National League wild card race has become extremely tight, and it's outcome will come down to the final series of the regular season.
However, the Braves can get themselves into the playoffs by taking all three games from the Philadelphia Phillies this week.
Although this does seem fairly unlikely, there are a few reasons it will happen.
The Phillies will want to rest their starters, partly to allow the Braves to enter the playoffs, and the following slides will explain this reasoning.
Philadelphia's Potential Opponents
The Philadelphia Phillies, having clinched the best record in the National League, will face the playoff team with the worst record in the first round.
And the Phillies will get a say in the matter of who this will be.
If the baseball season ended today, the Phillies would face the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round of the playoffs.
However, if the Phillies manage to knock the Braves out of the playoffs, they will face the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round.
Versus St. Louis
Against the St. Louis Cardinals this season, the Phillies are 3-6.
The Cardinal's impressive offense may worry the Phillies, as 15 runs were surrendered to St. Louis in their most recent meeting.
The Cardinals have been playing extremely well recently, which could be a concern to the Phillies if they face off in the postseason.
This season, versus the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Phillies have gone 3-3.
The Diamondbacks' offense is only average, and the Phillies' pitching staff should not have much trouble holding it back.
The Diamondbacks, while they have had a great season, are not experienced enough to defeat the Phillies in a playoff series.
Surely, the Phillies would rather take on the Diamondbacks in the first round of the playoffs than the Cardinals.
Atlanta's Potential Opponents
Currently, the Atlanta Braves are struggling to win games, partly because of the many injuries to the team.
However, the Braves' two aces may be healthy if they make it as far as the NLCS.
Which is why the Phillies' ideal playoff situation would be to avoid the Cardinals in the first round, and avoid the Braves in the second round.
Their best chance for this to occur would be for the Braves to play the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round of the playoffs.
The Braves are 5-3 against the Brewers.
However, they have not faced each other since the beginning of May.
By now, the Brewers are a much stronger team, and the Braves are very vulnerable in their state of injury and struggling offense.
If the Phillies allow the Braves to enter the postseason, the Phillies would have a very good chance of missing both the Braves and the Cardinals in the playoffs.
Phillies Are Slumping
If the Phillies do try their hardest to win against the Braves, they may still struggle.
Even with the Braves playing as poorly as they are, the Phillies are only 1-9 in their last ten games.
The Phillies have not won a game since clinching the division eight games ago.
Many of the Phillies' starters, such as Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, are struggling to produce offensively this month.
If the Braves manage to score only a few runs, they should be able to win the games.
Phillies Need Rest
As this is the final series of the season, the Phillies, having clinched the division title, will want to rest their starters for this series.
It will be mainly their starting pitchers on the postseason rotation who will be given rest.
It is very unlikely that any of the Phillies' three aces will pitch in this series.
Also, the Phillies may limit the innings from their important relievers, as to keep them in their top form.
They will most likely allow their position players a breather as well, because they have been slumping as of late, and could use a day off.
It is unlikely that any of them will play in the entire series.
For these reasons, the Phillies should let the Braves into the postseason during the Braves' most crucial series of the season.