The Atlanta Braves have done everything possible to set themselves up for a championship run. The Braves clinched a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the 2023 MLB playoffs. No matter how the final 2023 MLB playoff seeding shakes out, Atlanta should be favored at the start of every series.
There are certain scenarios that would improve the Braves' chances of winning the 2023 World Series. The final day of the regular season and the two NL wild-card series will determine Atlanta's first playoff opponent.
Braves' dream seeding scenario, matchups for 2023 MLB playoffs
With the best record in baseball, the Braves will automatically advance to the NLDS. Atlanta's opponent will be the winner of the NL wild-card series between the No. 4 and No. 5 seed. The Philadelphia Phillies are locked in as the NL's No. 4 seed. The Arizona Diamondbacks, Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds all still have a chance to clinch the No. 5 seed with two regular-season games remaining. In the ideal Braves seeding scenario, either the Diamondbacks or the Reds get the No. 5 seed and beat the Phillies to secure an NLDS matchup with Atlanta.
Cincinnati should be Atlanta's dream opponent. The Reds are extremely young, lacking playoff experience across much of the roster. The Braves are the polar opposite, having won six straight NL East titles. There's also Cincinnati's rotation, which is the worst in the 2023 MLB Playoffs. Atlanta has a historic lineup that would bludgeon the Reds' rotation and its 5.39 ERA.
The Diamondbacks wouldn't be a bad consolation prize for the Braves. Arizona is the most likely No. 5 seed. Unlike the Reds, the Diamondbacks don't have a top-10 offense. Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, however, would be a formidable one-two punch in the rotation for a short playoff series.
The Phillies would have the best chance to upset the Braves in the NLDS. It isn't just that Philadelphia finished ahead of the other wild-card teams by a comfortable margin. Philadelphia topped Atlanta in last year's NLDS. The Phillies would enter the series with a confidence that wouldn't be owned by any other possible Braves' playoff opponent.
Let's assume the Braves advance to the NLCS. Even if Atlanta gets a rematch with Philadelphia, the NL East champs should take care of business. The Braves entered the penultimate day of the regular season at least 13 games better than every wild-card team. How should Atlanta want the other NL portion of the 2023 MLB playoff bracket to shake out?
If the Reds clinch the No. 5 seed and the Diamondbacks earn the No. 6 seed, there's an unlikely scenario in which Arizona makes its way to the NLCS. If Atlanta only has to go through Cincinnati and Arizona in order to make the World Series, it's hard to believe the Braves will be stopped short of the Fall Classic.
It doesn't take a baseball savant to know that Atlanta should want to avoid the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. The Dodgers are the only team with both a top-three offense and pitching staff. Los Angeles has the biggest division lead in baseball. While Ronald Acuna Jr. is the NL MVP favorite, Mookie Betts has been making a case to be considered for the award. Freddie Freeman is also putting up MVP-caliber numbers.
The Braves would be clear favorites over the Miami Marlins in a series, though it would be helpful if Atlanta could avoid its division rival. The Marlins swept the Braves just two weeks ago during their only series in the second half of the season. Atlanta can only see the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS. Milwaukee's starting pitching gives it a chance against anyone.
No matter who stands in the Braves' way, Atlanta will make the World Series if it comes close to playing its best brand of baseball.