The Atlanta Braves have been cruising all season long. They have not taken their foot off the pedal, only to accelerate against their other National League East opponents. This club has a 14 game lead over the second place Washington Nationals and have the best record in baseball at 85-55.
Yet, everyone has their holes, even the Bravos. Ignore the fact that the only team within the last five season who finished with the best record in baseball to win the World Series was the 2009 New York Yankees, the Braves need to step up their road game.
Opposing ball clubs have found it very difficult in trying to snatch a victory at Turner Field. They have only succeeded 20 times this year. A 51-20 record at home is the best in the majors by a comfortable margin. The next closest in all of baseball belongs to the Boston Red Sox, who are 47-25 at Fenway Park. In the NL, the Pittsburgh Pirates are second with a 45-25 record while playing at PNC Park.
The problem is, despite boasting the best record in the game, they are actually one game under .500 on the road at 34-35. The 35th loss away from home came Friday night when they lost to the 64-77 Philadelphia Phillies by a score of 2-1.
Anything can happen in the playoffs, and maybe they could go on a great road streak, they’re going to have to if they want to win the World Series. They can win every game at home in the NLDS and NLCS and clinch the pennant that way, should they manage to finish with the best record in the NL, but with the American League winning in the All Star Game this year, they’ll need at least one road win for the franchise’s fourth World Series title.
They certainly are capable of it. What is most telling is how they have been killing it despite Chipper Jones retiring. They acquired Justin Upton from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the offseason. Unlike his brother BJ, he has been decent in his first season in Atlanta. Then, the so-called throw in in the deal, Chris Johnson, could win the batting title this year and he currently leads by batting .330.
No Jonny Venters, no Eric O’Flaherty, no problems. These two set-up men went down earlier in the year and Craig Kimbrel has still been lights out in that closer’s role. If there has one thing that has worked out for the Braves be it home or away, it’s this man. Despite being a little better at home, he is still getting the job done on the road as well. Bottom line: Teams do not want to face this man in the 9th inning in a save situation, no matter where the game is being played.
It should be interesting to not if the five teams to come out of the NL in the playoffs are the Braves, Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers, only the Reds also have a losing record on the road at 35-38. The Bucs have a 36-34 record away from PNC Park, the Redbirds house a 39-35 record on the road and the Dodgers appear to be a jack of all trades as they have a 40-29 road record in addition to going 43-28 at home.
This Braves squad has been in excellent shape all season, they just need to remember they can’t put all of their faith into their marvelous record at Turner Field.