The Atlanta Braves once looked like they would run away with MLB's best record. Now, after a recent losing skid that features five losses in their last six games, that might not be the case for Brian Snitker's club.
The skid doesn’t suggest that the Braves are due to lose early in the playoffs, of course. The Braves still have a lineup full of stars and numerous good pitchers and have clinched the NL East and a first-round bye already. But faltering this close to the postseason isn’t great, as it could cost them homefield advantage in a future series. Given that they are expected to go all the way, it could come back to bite them.
After a 10-inning loss at home to the Philadelphia Phillies, which clinched a series loss, Snitker said that the team can’t let its guard down, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com. However, he didn’t make it sound like the Braves absolutely have to get homefield advantage for the playoffs in order to win.
“We’re trying to win every game,” Snitker said, via MLB.com. “We’re in the playoffs, and we got a bye. I don’t think we had home-field advantage in , and it was OK. You still have to win. You still have to win games, regardless of where you’re at. I’d love to have it, but it’s not going to be the end of the world if we don’t.”
The Braves did have home-field advantage for one series in the 2021 NL playoff picture (the NLCS against the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers) but didn’t have it when they went on to defeat the Houston Astros in the World Series. They had it last year when they lost to the Phillies in the NLDS.
The Baltimore Orioles trail the Braves in the overall standings by just two games. The Dodgers are only 3.5 games back. But with two series against the Washington Nationals and one more against the Chicago Cubs left on the schedule, Atlanta should be able to get back on the winning track and clinch the top record. Whether the Braves win the most games or not during the regular season, the Braves will be the team to beat in the postseason.