Bradley’s Buzz: It’s a big weekend in the Braves’ pennant chase

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

From Aug. 31 through Sept. 9, the Braves went 8-0. They’re 1-4 since. They lost a series in Seattle, which wasn’t a shock. Then they lost a series in San Francisco, which had dropped 16 of its past 24 games.

On Sept. 9, the Braves pulled a half-game ahead of the Mets. The lead lasted 24 hours. As we speak, the Mets have a one-game lead – despite having been swept at home by the Cubs, who haven’t known a winning month this season. The Braves and Mets are tied in the loss column.

The Mets figured to have the easier September, but they’ve made little of it. They’re 7-7, having not faced a plus-.500 team since Sept. 1. They get the Pirates over the weekend. The Braves entertain the Phillies, who’ve won seven of nine and who hold a 2-1/2-game lead over San Diego for the second of three wild cards.

Of the Braves’ 19 remaining games, 10 will be played against winning teams. Of the Mets’ 17 remaining game, six will be played against winning teams.

The prize is playoff seeding. The East winner will get a Round 1 bye. The runner-up can look forward to a best-of-three series against the Phillies and, should it prevail, an NLDS date with the Dodgers.

That both the Braves and Mets have hit fallow periods after playing so well for so long is, dare we say, a function of baseball. Nobody wins ‘em all. Bad teams beat good teams. The Mets have felt the absence of Max Scherzer, who’s 38 and who just worked a rehab start. He’s expected to return to the rotation next week. Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom contrived to lose to the Cubs. According to ESPN Stats & Information, it was the biggest upset of the regular season.

The Braves’ seven remaining games with Philadelphia are immense. The Mets are done with Philly, though they’ll work a three-game set in Milwaukee next week. The Phillies are still playing for something – to stay ahead of San Diego. If they can beat the Braves three or four times, the chance of the two meeting in Round 1 moves closer to a reality.

Not every opponent would prefer facing the Braves to the Mets, but Philly surely does. It’s 6-6 against the Braves; it was 5-14 against the Mets.

The key man in this whole NL East business: Zack Wheeler, the Philly pitcher who was once a Met and who’s an East Paulding High alum. He has missed four starts with inflammation in his forearm. It’s believed he’s not far from returning. He’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session at Trust Park today. The world awaits its findings.

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The above is just part of a regular exercise, written and collated by yours truly, that’s available to all who register on AJC.com for our Sports Daily newsletter. The unexpurgated Bradley’s Buzz – not the greatest name, but I couldn’t think of anything better – arrives via email around 1:30 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays. (We plan to add a Wednesday version soon.) It includes more opinions and thoughts about sports, duh, and features doodads like a weekly poll and a quote. We’d be obliged if you’d give it a try.