The Braves will open the playoffs with a three-game series at Truist Park next week. It’s probably going to be a few more days before they know who their opponent will be.An update through Wednesday night’s games:
Will the Braves be the National League’s No. 2 or No. 3 seed? The Braves’ win over the Marlins on Wednesday, coupled with the Cubs’ loss to Pittsburgh, gave the NL East champion Braves (34-22) a two-game lead over the NL Central-leading Cubs (32-24) for the No. 2 seed. (The NL West champion Dodgers have clinched the No. 1 seed.) Because so many teams are closely bunched contenders for the 5-6-7-8 seeds, it’s unpredictable at this point whether the No. 2 or No. 3 seed would yield a more favorable opening-round matchup.
(A review of how the seeding works for the expanded playoffs this year: The three division champs will be the top three seeds in order of record. The second-place finishers in the three divisions will be the Nos. 4-6 seeds in order of record. And the two wild-card teams will be the Nos. 7-8 seeds in order of record. The top four seeds will be the home teams throughout the first-round series, dubbed the Wild Card Series by MLB.)
Who would the Braves play in the opening round if they’re the No. 2 seed? They would open against the No. 7 seed (the team with the better record of the two wild cards). As the records stand after Wednesday’s games, the Giants would be the No. 7 seed by the thinnest of margins if the regular season had ended then. (The day before, No. 7 would have been the Reds. Tomorrow, who knows?) Bottom line is that any of six teams — Giants, Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, Marlins, Phillies — could wind up as the No. 7 seed.
Who would the Braves play in the opening round if they’re the No. 3 seed? They would open against the No. 6 seed, which will be the team with the worst record among the second-place finishers. As the standings stand after Wednesday’s games, that would be the Marlins, the second-place team in the East, against whom the Braves have won six of nine meetings this season. But the Phillies, who beat the Nationals on Wednesday, are now just one-half game behind the Marlins for second place in the East (and a possible No. 6 seed). It’s also possible the second-place team in the Central (Cardinals, Reds or Brewers) will wind up as the No. 6 seed.
So to recap With four days left in the regular season, we know the Braves will open the playoffs with a best-of-three series at Truist Park against the Giants or the Reds or the Cardinals or the Brewers or the Marlins or the Phillies. “Come Sunday (at) about 7 o’clock, we’ll know,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said Wednesday, “and we’ll just plan from there.”