This is it, the final series of the year. The Braves have a two game lead over the Padres for the Wildcard, and they are also three games behind the Giants for the N.L. West title. The Braves need to win just one game to at least tie for the Widlcard, regardless of what the Padres do. If the Padres lose one game and we win one, then the Wildcard is ours. The advantage is definitely in our favor, so let's hope the Braves take the game tonight and put the pressure on the Padres. The Giants can clinch the West with just one victory of the Padres, so they are going to be coming out in full force as well. Oh, by the way, we're playing the Phillies who have already clinched the division. The Phillies are throwing out just one of their big three, so the Braves have a great chance to take a few games this series.
Friday, 7:35 pm EST: Kyle Kendrick (10-10, 4.76 ERA, 4.91 FIP, 1.78 K/BB) vs. Brandon Beachy (0-1, 2.89 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 1.67 K/BB)
Neither Beachy nor Kendrick are terrific pitchers, but with the season close to being on the line, I expect Beachy to be well-prepared and focused for this start. If Beachy can continue to limit runs for just one more outing, the Braves should be in a great position to get a win tonight. Kendrick is pretty inconsistent, and he is coming off of a pretty solid start against the Mets.
Saturday, 4:10 pm EST: Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.09 ERA, 3.69, 3.48 K/BB) vs. Tommy Hanson (10-11, 3.41 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 3.09 K/BB)
Hamels has been an absolute beast in the second half, pitching to a 2.28 ERA over 14 starts. Hamels will get one more warm-up start before the playoffs. He has had mixed results against the Braves in the past, with a 4.02 career ERA over 109.2 innings pitched. Hanson pitched a great game against the Marlins, and this could potentially be the Wildcard clincher. Although they have one of their better pitchers on the hill, so do we.
Sunday, 1:35 pm EST: Vance Worley (1-1, 2.25 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 4.50 K/BB) vs. Tim Hudson (16-9, 2.76 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 1.86 K/BB)
Tim Hudson will be on the mound for Bobby Cox's last regular season game ever. He isn't Maddux, Glavine, or Smoltz, but Hudson has been one of the Braves most reliable pitchers this decade and Bobby's career finale couldn't come be started by a better guy. Worley has pitched well in just four starts, but Hudson is definitely the better pitcher in this matchup. He struggled down the stretch, but he battled through his last start against the Marlins and put on a great performance.
Hopefully the Braves can clinch this thing early so that the team and all of the fans can focus on Bobby Cox and his impending retirement. It won't feel like it's truly over if the Braves make the playoffs, but as the season comes to a close, it really starts to hit home that Cox's tenure is actually about to be finished. The Braves and Phillies is a new rivalry for Bobby, and hopefully they can meet each other in the playoffs with the Braves coming out on top. Before they get there, they must take care of some final business in the regular season.