The Atlanta Braves have the opportunity the next three days to make a statement against the Washington Nationals. The Braves can clinch the National League East, by winning 2 of the next 3 games against the Nationals in Washington. They can also derail Washington’s late bid to claim a wildcard spot.
Atlanta has coasted the past few weeks with their double-digit lead. The Braves are 6-8 in September and just lost a home series against the lowly San Diego Padres. Fredi Gonzalez has rested his regulars and there has been little sense of urgency.
The hot Dodgers have cooled off and not made a serious run, so the Braves have maintained their 2+ lead for the National League best record. Although, it doesn’t really seem that attaining the National League’s best record has been serious motivation to the Braves. They give it lip service, but it seems to be a distant second to the goal of resting players, and doing everything possible to justify B.J. Upton‘s $15 million salary, by continuing to play him when possible.
With the chance to wrap up the division on Washington turf, and snuff the Nationals’ playoff hopes, there is a fair amount on the line in this series. Can the Braves snap out of their malaise and flip on the switch back on against the hot Nationals?
The big concern I see is that a baseball season is more like a dump truck than a race car. Teams have to keep their forward momentum going, ’cause it is very difficult to switch momentum on, once it has been turned off. Be interesting to see if the Braves can get focused again with something on the line.
Are you concerned that this big lead has lulled the Braves to sleep?