Has Braves September Collapse Begun?

Turner Field

Another September collapse?

Atlanta Braves fans will never forget the 2011 season, when the Braves led St. Louis for the wild card spot by 10 1/2 games on August 26 and 8 1/2 games on September 6, only to watch as the Braves collapsed in the last few weeks and missed out on the playoffs.

Fortunately, the Braves huge lead in the National League East, will prevent any catastrophic collapse with playoff consequences this season.  Unless they have close to an unprecedented losing streak, the Braves are in the playoffs.

But the best record in the National League is still in play, and so is playoff momentum, and  the Braves have now lost four in a row.  One to the Mets, and three to the Phillies.  Both teams have all but quit on the season, yet they had enough to beat the Braves.

Has the Braves September collapse begun?  Even though they have an incredibly favorable schedule, are the Braves going to choke up the best record in the NL, and limp into the playoffs with zero momentum?  Or will they keep winning at home and losing on the road?   Wouldn’t it be nice to take road win momentum into the playoffs?

Was the wrong message sent to the team when Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez started resting multiple players in games?   Was the message sent that the meaningful regular season is over, and it is time to coast into the playoffs?

In the September 4 game against the Mets, Fredi Gonzalez rested three starting position players and had journeyman pitcher Kameron Loe start.  The Braves lost that game 5-2, in what has turned out to be the first loss in this current four game losing streak.  Did Fredi send the wrong message to the team?

Fortunately, the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers, the Braves top competition for the best record in the National League, have finally cooled off.  The Dodgers have matched the Braves 4-game losing streak with one of their own.  But their four losses were against the Rockies and the Reds.  In other words, three of their four losses came against a real team.

The Braves begin a 4-game series against the Marlins tonight.  They need to wake up and take care of business against the worst team in the National League.  If they don’t, could it be deja vu all over again?

Profile photo of Jim Hart About Jim Hart

Jim has covered the Atlanta Braves since 2008 for local and national broadcast news organizations. He also appears regularly talking Braves baseball on WCCP-FM in Clemson, South Carolina, and the ESPN Radio affiliate, 1420 Sports in St. Augustine, Florida.

  • Colin

    Both Upton’s and Ugla need to be benched PERMANENTY.

  • Lee

    Jim, I do think that Fredi sent the wrong message, and thus has made some bad decisions. It was apparent in the first game with the Phillies, that the team was in a relaxed, unmotivated mindset. Early in the game, McCann lobbed a ball over Minor’s head which Simmons had to field. It kept going downhill from there. The offense isn’t producing much at all. Granted they were facing a couple very good pitchers, but too many swings looked particularly amateurish. Jim, a few articles previously you were concerned about the football season possibly pulling interest from the Braves. Nothing will lose that interest more quickly, than the lackluster way they are currently playing. I, an avid Braves fan, caught myself turning to football this past weekend. I hope this turns around soon, because their only hope in post-season is home field advantage. (My MVP Andrelton Simmons is excluded from this response…he never gives up!)

    • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

      Lee, normally I wouldn’t think much about a 4-game losing streak, it happens. But based on 2011 and based on the Braves winning only 1 World Series during their string of 14 division championships, I think close scrutiny right now is warranted. And yes, home field is crucial. It is almost as if they think they can turn it on when they need to and it never works that way.

      • Lee

        I sure hope that it gets turned around tonight. They can’t rely on the Dodgers continuing to lose. They need to keep it turned on until the end. BTW…you sure take some unwarranted abuse in some unnecessary responses!

        • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

          Lee, some folks like to flame/troll to get a response. I just delete and ban, I’m only interested in having professional discussions here.

          • Lee

            Good way to deal with it!

  • rogerheld

    I agree with everyone that giving away the game against the Mets at home (why not do that against Cliff Lee instead???) was a huge mistake – especially the last game of a homestand. I also do not think it’s a coincidence that BJ led off every one of those Phillies games – not good. Those Phillies games were some of the oddest I have seen. All one run losses where the Braves could not get a lead. One game featured only two hits – both Gattis HRs (!!). Another game featured three guys getting multiple hits and no one else getting ANY. All had good pitching.
    I really think there are a few players that will not allow the team to go into any long losing streaks. Medlen and Gattis tonight against the Marlins. Gattis almost single-handedly won a game against the Phillies. Simmons is sparking the team, too. If Heyward plays an inning before the playoffs, the guys will get motivated.

  • Bob

    September swoon is in progress. No early runs and without Heyward ineffectual offense. Uggla and B.J. are two of the most overpaid players in baseball.

  • Carlos E. Jiménez Cordero

    As this article was on sept 9th, Braves have gone 4-5 after that…