Week ahead for Phillies and Braves couldn't be more different


Updated: 9:55 p.m.

Saturday night did not go well for the Phillies. They lost to the Cubs, 7-1, while the Braves scored four in the eighth inning to beat the Pirates, 5-3.

As a result, the Phillies are three games back again. Still, they're closer to the top of the NL East than they are the wild-card.

While those seven games against the Braves from Sept. 20-30 will be the ultimate determinant of whether the Phillies win the division, it is a must that they pick up ground this upcoming week.

Why? Because it's the biggest difference in opposition the Phillies and Braves will face the rest of the way.

Phillies' week ahead

After the Phils finish with the Cubs, they have three games in Miami, an off day Thursday, then three games at Citi Field against the Mets. The Marlins and Mets are a combined 57 games under .500. 

The Phils are 8-5 against the Marlins and 5-8 against the Mets.

Braves' week ahead

The Braves, meanwhile, have an extremely challenging stretch of 20 games after the weekend. While the Phillies are in Miami and New York, the Braves will host the Red Sox for three games and then head West for four games in Arizona, followed by three in San Francisco.

It's key that the Braves are facing the Red Sox in early September as opposed to two weeks from now. The Red Sox (93-43) have a 7½-game lead on the Yankees, which at this time of year is sizable but not insurmountable. 

After the three games with Boston comes a West Coast road trip for a tired Braves team. Atlanta will have played 31 games in 30 days when the trip begins and won't have an off day until Sept. 13.

The Diamondbacks are a formidable and hungry opponent. They lead the NL West by just a game over the Dodgers and 1½ games over the Rockies. 

And best of all from the Phillies' perspective, the Braves will face Zack Greinke (13-9, 2.97 ERA) and Patrick Corbin (3.15 ERA, 11.0 K/9) in the first two games of the series. 

As rough as August was at times for the Phillies, they are still in a great position to win the division given the schedule disparities between them and the Braves. Because of this, Fangraphs gives the Phillies a 45 percent chance to win the division compared to the Braves' 52 percent, despite the current two-game deficit.

Of course, taking advantage of the upcoming schedule means the Phils have to finally take care of business against the Mets. It's all relative when it comes to the Mets in September. If you're facing Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler (the hottest pitcher in baseball right now), it's still a tough series.

As of now, the Phils are set next weekend to face Steven Matz, Syndergaard and deGrom, in that order.

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