|Braves Fans have a lot to worry about!|
I realize there are 162 games in a season and I often caution baseball fans on not making too much about one game (check out my Red Sox column from April), but last night's final out collapse against the Marlins has me wondering if the Braves will even make it to October. When you're up 5-4 with 2 outs and no one on in the bottom of the 9th, with one of the best pitchers in baseball on the mound, you expect to win 100% of the time. When Chipper Jones loses a chopper in the lights (really?) and ex-Brave Omar Infante hits a walk-off homer, it might be time to pack it up and take it to the house.
Even if the Braves do hold on and make the playoffs, is there any confidence that they can advance? Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson are still on the DL. Derek Lowe sucks so bad that Braves fans wish he was ON the DL. Brian McCann is hitting .167 since coming off the disabled list. Freddie Freeman is in a funk. The bullpen is taxed. None of the rookies brought up to replace the injured starting pitchers have made a strong impact. These are all valid concerns regarding the Braves chances.
The bottom line is this season looks an awful lot like last year's. The Braves limped in to the playoffs, couldn't score runs and were sent packing in four games. If the Braves draw Milwaukee in the first round, this may be the case again. I don't think even the most optimistic Braves fans could say the team on the field now can beat the Brewers or Phillies in a series. The only way the Braves advance to the NLCS is if they can draw Arizona in the first round. The Diamondbacks are young and inexperienced in October, something the Braves could exploit.
Let me say this: I am one of those optimistic Braves fans. I do think the Braves will make the playoffs, but I'm realistic at the same time. I don't see them advancing unless some key pieces get healthy and other right the ship in time for the postseason.