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?