The Braves enter the regular season's final month very much alive for a chance to play October baseball. Despite the early season injuries, the inconsistency, the losing streaks and all the other turmoil, they've weathered the storm with a solid late-August run to keep themselves afloat. After a 4-3 week that included back-to-back series wins over the Mets and Marlins, the Braves are now 1.5 games back of the Brewers for a wild card berth.
Taking a look at the rest of the Braves' schedule, they're in pretty decent shape to get to where they want to go. They have 14 games left against teams that are currently below .500, and will go head-to-head with the wild card-contending Pirates four more times. You can't take games against losing teams for granted, but if the Braves are truly a postseason team they'll take advantage of the opportunity.
While the Marlins have shown great grit and resiliency all season, hopes of a stunning postseason berth continue to dwindle. After losing two key series this past week (including one vs. the Braves) the Marlins are 5.5 games out of the wild card spot with a difficult month ahead. With time running out on their season, they still have 14 games left against playoff contending teams. But even if they don't make the postseason, most would call this year a huge success.
However, there could be a problem be in the offseason when Miami attempts to build on its solid 2014 campaign. As surprising as this season has been, it's apparently not enough to sway Giancarlo Stanton's view of the organization. The NL MVP candidate recently said that he's not forgetting the franchise's prior missteps, so keeping him in Miami longterm could prove to be a challenge. If the Marlins can't work out a longterm deal, then they'll have to find a way to net a mega-package of top prospects for him in a trade.
NEW YORK METS
After all the talk about Bartolo Colon's trade value and which team might be interested in his services, it wound up being much to do about nothing. The waiver trade deadline has passed and, to the surprise of manager Terry Collins, Colon is still a member of the Mets. Perhaps there'll be a better trade market for him in the offseason, but who'll want a 41-year-old who's due big money in 2015? If a trade were ever going to happen, you'd think it would have during the season while contenders are trying to make one final push towards October.
Usually when you're a last-place team like the Phillies, the season can't end quickly enough. But in the last few weeks they've found a way to have some fun at the expense of some contenders. Coming off back-to-back series wins against the Mariners and Cardinals, the Phillies swept the NL East-leading Nationals at home. Then on Labor Day, they pitched a combined no-hitter against the Braves thanks to Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon. And the spoiler run may not be over just yet, either. The Phillies still have five more games against the Braves, four against the Pirates and three against the Nats. Contenders beware.