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Trying to Escape .500 Baseball

It seems like most of this season it's been frustrating to be a Braves fan. On paper the team is full of talent, and on the field they have shown that they can beat just about anyone, but somehow they keep coming up short. This homestand was once again a study in futility for the Braves. They could have easily come away with more than just a 3-and-3 record, but for some reason they couldn't muster all parts of their game to perform at the same time.

Another frustrating fact about the Braves averageness the past few months has been the Mets lack of any real winning streak or solid play that would put some distance between them and the rest of the league. It seems like the Braves have been barely surviving, staying 3 to 5 games behind the New Yorkers for most of the season, but unable to really close the gap; and still today we find ourselves 5 ½ games from the division lead.

Here is a breakdown of the records by month for the top three teams in the NL East:

Team April May June July August Overall
Mets 15-9 19-9 12-15 13-15 11-6 70-53
Phillies 11-14 15-13 15-13 15-10 9-8 65-58
Braves 16-9 14-14 13-15 13-13 9-8 65-59

The thing that jumps out at me, and quite frankly scares me a bit, is the record of the Phillies. They have unquestionably been the better team the last three to four months, and just as the Mets had a chance to put the division away, both the Mets and the Braves had many opportunities to put distance between themselves and the Phills. But both teams have waffled around playing .500 baseball for the last few months while the Phillies have been slowly playing their way back into contention. While the Phillies are not there yet, a team that was left for dead three months ago is now right in the thick of the race. That makes it even tougher for the Braves to try and make a run at a postseason berth - the Phillies will be another team that we have to contend with.

What this chart also shows is that with any semblance of a winning streak the division lead could be yours. The Mets have been playing the bottom of the NL Central lately, so their record this month looks a little better, but they are still the same team that put up sub-.500 records in June and July. While this chart may be frustrating - to see how average we've been since April - it is also encouraging, in that it shows where a winning streak could put us. Of course, if one of the other two teams decides to go on a winning streak of their own, that could spell doom for our postseason hopes.

We have to go out and try to win the next few series, and if we can pick up a sweep somewhere in there then we'll be in good shape. On the other hand, if this next 4-game series with the Reds turns out like the last series we had with them (where they swept us), then it will be a long last month of the season.

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