Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Free-falling Braves: Closer to fourth place than first

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Missed it by that much. (John Bazemore/AP)

Folks, this isn't getting better. The Atlanta Braves are 2-3 on this difficult homestand, having fallen five games behind first-place Washington. They haven't lost an acre of ground in the wild-card chase because most of the other aspirants have likewise been losing, but they're still 2 1/2 games out of the second WC spot.

Having already depressed the heck out of everyone, we might as well go the full Monty and note: The Miami Marlins, who lost their best pitcher to Tommy John surgery in May, are one game behind the Braves. And the Mets, who haven't had their best pitcher since August 2013, are only 2 1/2 games in arrears of the flyin' Fish.

I learned in the early '90s, when the Braves made fools of those who predicted their doom by fashioning three consecutive come-from-behind division championships at a time when you had to win your division, never to say "It's over" before it actually is. (I relearned this the hard way during the Epic Collapse of 2011.) But I'd be lying if I said I see any cause for optimism. The Braves are 60-59. They're nine games under .500 since April 27. They're on pace to finish 82-80.

In three weeks, Baseball Prospectus has shrunk its playoff odds on this team from 51.5 percent to 20.9 . The Reds, who were under .500 on July 30, now have shorter odds. It's possible that the Braves can tread water until the schedule eases after next week and then make a run; it's also possible they'll wind up behind the Marlins. (Though surely not the Mets.)

I wish I had better news for y'all, but I don't. I just don't.

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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.