ATLANTA—11Alive Sports offers a statistical and logistical breakdown of the Atlanta Braves and their odds of breaking the franchise's five-year playoff drought.

Counting the ongoing four-game set with the San Diego Padres at SunTrust Park (Thursday-Sunday), the Braves (40-28, first place in the National League East) are staring at 11 consecutive outings against teams with losing records.

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As such, we might have to recalculate Atlanta's chances of making the postseason on June 28. There's likely to be more breathing room at the top.


There's one easy prediction to make on June 15, upon viewing the NL standings:

The National League West will likely be shut out of all wild-card slots.

By that token, either the 1) NL East will produce one champion/two wild cards, the 2) NL Central will generate one champion/two wild cards ... or 3) the East and Central will both account for one champion and one wild card.

Here's a capsule look at the NL playoff contenders:

Record: 41-27
Projected Pace: 97-65
Remaining Games Against Sub-.500 Teams: 50
Last season's Brew Crew had a 5 1/2-game lead on the Saturday before the All-Star Game; so let's not hand 'em a playoff berth just yet.

That aside, Milwaukee has already posted six streaks of three victories or more, with very few substantive losing streaks along the way. They might be cruising to 93-plus wins.

Bottom line: The Cubs better catch the Brewers before Sept. 12; after that, Milwaukee closes with multiple series against Pittsburgh, one with Cincinnati, one with St. Louis and then a cake finale weekend with the Tigers, who have already lost slugger Miguel Cabrera for the season to injury.

Record: 38-27
Projected Pace: 95-67
Remaining Games Against Sub-.500 Teams: 50
We'll learn more about the Cubs' playoff chances from June 21 to July 15. For that 22-game stretch, Chicago draws 18 different encounters with losing clubs.

Record: 40-28 (NL East leader)
Projected Pace: 95-67
Remaining Games Against Sub-.500 Teams: 47

Record: 37-28
Projected Pace: 92-70
Remaining Games Against Sub-.500 Teams: 44

Record: 38-30 (NL West leader)
Projected Pace: 89-73
Remaining Games Against Sub-.500 Teams: 57
That above figure is simply mind-blowing. Of the Diamondbacks' 94 remaining games, 57 come against losing teams.

By contrast, the Dodgers (46) and Rockies (32) only have a combined 78 games left versus sub-standard competition.

As a bonus, Arizona has 15 of its final 24 outings at home in September.

Record: 36-30
Projected Pace: 88-74
Remaining Games Against Sub-.500 Teams: 40
On paper, the Cardinals represent the greatest threat to the Braves/Nationals runner-up (NL East) missing the playoffs.

However, the remaining schedule doesn't inspire much optimism. The Cards' finishing kick includes the Dodgers, Braves, Giants, Brewers and Cubs; and of the six best teams in the National League, St. Louis easily has the fewest remaining games against sub-.500 competition.

Record: 35-32
Projected Pace: 85-77
Remaining Games Against Sub-.500 Teams: 46
If the Braves, Nationals, Cubs and Brewers all reach 90-92 wins, that would subsequently force the Dodgers to, at minimum, collect 56 wins from their final 95 outings.

Bottom line: With Arizona's eminently doable schedule from this point forward, a wild card may be Los Angeles' only hope for making the postseason.

Record: 35-31
Projected Pace: 86-76
Remaining Games Against Sub-.500 Teams: 51

Record: 33-35
Projected Pace: 79-83
Remaining Games Against Sub-.500 Teams: 32

Record: 33-35
Projected Pace: 79-83
Remaining Games Against Sub-.500 Teams: 37
Here's a good analogy to describe the Pirates' sudden demise in recent weeks:

For his first six starts, Bucs starter Trevor Williams was electric on the mound, posting four wins and a 2.29 ERA.

For his last eight outings, Williams has a 6.28 ERA and opponents are hitting at a .301 clip—despite Williams showing great improvement with strikeout/walk rate.

Go figure.

Record: 34-35
Projected Pace: 80-82
Remaining Games Against Sub-.500 Teams: 40
Yes, the Giants have Madison Bumgarner back on the mound every five days; but that likely won't be enough to bridge the gap with San Francisco's other four rotational arms (remember, no Johnny Cueto).

Right now, the Giants rank 12th in cumulative NL ERA (4.34).

Record: 33-38
Projected Pace: 75-87
Remaining Games Against Sub-.500 Teams: 35
The proverbial deck seems stacked against the Padres making a serious run at the playoffs. Their August schedule (vs. Cubs, Brewers, Phillies, Angels, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Dodgers, Mariners) has no lulls and San Diego's offense currently owns bottom-3 tallies with hits, on-base percentage and OPS, among NL clubs.

Since Major League Baseball added a fifth playoff team for each league in 2012, the average win total for the NL wild cards shakes out to 91 victories.

Consequently, the Braves and Nationals are both rock-solid candidates for reaching the '91' figure. Of equal importance, here's what the also-rans would need to match the prerequisite of a 91-71 record.

Cardinals: 55-41 from this point forward
Dodgers: 56-39
Phillies: 56-39
Rockies: 58-36
Pirates: 58-36
Giants: 57-36
Padres: 58-33


At 40-28, the Braves are currently on track for a division-high 95 wins. After that, the East victory estimates include 92 wins (Nationals), 86 wins (Phillies), 70 wins (Mets) and 61 wins (Marlins).

For the sake of round numbers, though, let's say Atlanta and Washington both reach 90 wins by season's end.

For Philadelphia to have any realistic shot of capturing the division crown, it would require a finishing kick of 55-41 or better for the final 96 games.

Seems doable, right?

Well, the Phillies own middle-of-the-pack tallies with starters' wins, ERA and opponents' batting average. Plus, not a single Philly starter has logged a complete game this season.

Yes, that may be part of manager Gabe Kapler's analytics-friendly grand plan, but for a team to get red-hot in August and September, it typically involves an ace pitcher carrying the club for a sustained period.

On the mixed-blessing front, the Phillies still have 23 more encounters with the Braves (seven) and Nationals (16), providing an opportunity for making up ground in the coming months.

However, Philly has a 6-9 cumulative record against Atlanta and Washington ... with a run differential of minus-22.

For the imploding Mets, who are 17-36 since April 14 (28-37 overall), they would need a blistering finishing kick of 62-33 ... just to tie Atlanta/Washington at the hypothetical '90' mark.

Sixty-two wins over the next 3 1/2 months? That's not happening. Unless the Mets offense has some miracle cure for posting bottom-3 rankings (National League) with runs, hits, doubles, homers, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging rate and OPS.

The only remaining summertime drama for the Mets? Waiting to see which team produces the best trade package for 30-year-old pitcher Jacob deGrom (1.55 ERA, 113/23 K-BB).

In my mind, the 26-43 Marlins have a decent shot of catching the Mets for fourth place in the NL East. That's the optimum hope at this point ... unless Miami makes an all-out push to secure the worst record in the majors and seize the No. 1 overall pick for next year's draft.

To win the division? From this point forward, the overmatched Marlins would need a range of 64-66 victories over the next three months. No way.

As such, even though the Braves and Nationals aren't bludgeoning the weak NL East field, the odds of only Atlanta or Washington taking the division title remain strong. Something around 72-75 percent.


From my perspective, here are the determining factors for the final division-title push:

**The Braves have a winning record against the other four clubs in the NL East. Atlanta also has 12 remaining encounters with Miami.

**From June 29 to July 22, the Braves will incur a brutal stretch of 18 games against the Cardinals (road), Yankees (road), Brewers (road), Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Nationals (road). If Atlanta still owns the NL East lead on July 22, the club's odds of winning the division title would be greatly enhanced.

**On the flip side, the Nationals have the edge over the Braves during the final two weeks, if the division lead remains tight.

Of its final 12 games, Washington has five winnable roadies with Miami, Colorado and seven winnable home encounters with the Mets and Marlins.

Braves: 92-70 (NL East champ)
Nationals: 90-72 (NL wild card)