The Braves haven’t had much to play for since about the first week of the season, but finally, its fans have a magic number.
As of Tuesday morning, that’s how many wins the Braves need to guarantee the 2016 season doesn’t end with a triple-digit loss total. And when you consider that at one point in the season, the Braves were on pace to lose more than 125 games, it’s certainly not as bad as it could’ve been.
Atlanta currently holds a 56-88 record following Monday night’s 12-7 win over the Miami Marlins at Turner Field, and if we can assume all remaining games will get played as scheduled with no rainouts, seven more wins would give the Braves a 63-99 record to finish the season.
The season has taken a trajectory that represents a good scenario for Braves fans. As the franchise began calling up the first wave of young prospects, the team got a little better (almost) each time, and the rookies had a chance to get big-league experience. There have been plenty of slip-ups, but it’s all a part of the learning curve.
If this team had gotten worse as the season progressed, it would have been a sign – a really bad sign – that perhaps the minor-league talent wasn’t good enough to handle the pressure of Major League Baseball. The steady improvement of this team has been a positive; hopefully, Braves fans can latch on to that as the offseason approaches.
But if they’re going to stay on the good side of 100 losses, they’ll have to beat some pretty decent teams. The Braves still have six games against the floundering Marlins and another three against the fourth-place Philadelphia Phillies, so they’ll have their chances against those two. However, they also have six games against the Washington Nationals and New York Mets, two teams that are – right now, at least – playoff-bound.
Finally, Atlanta finishes its season at home against the Detroit Tigers. Barring a collapse, the Tigers will be in the American League Wild Card race down to the wire, so they’ll come to Turner Field looking to spoil the Braves’ going-away party. Those could be really tough games to stave off 100 losses, if that’s still a possibility.
In the big picture, winning at least 63 games doesn’t mean much, but if 99 losses is rock-bottom for this franchise, well, it could be a whole lot worse.Follow @Sean_Breslin