Why the home stretch is still meaningful for Braves

August 28th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Mark Bowman’s Braves Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Barring a collapse, the National League East race isn’t going to include any drama this year. But that doesn’t mean the Braves won’t be playing for anything over the next few weeks, this week in particular.

After playing three games against the Rockies at Coors Field, the Braves will head to Dodger Stadium for a four-game series that begins Thursday night. What transpires during this series could determine who ends up with home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs. 

The Braves have MLB’s best record (84-45) and are four games in front of the Dodgers in the battle for the NL’s best record. Having home-field advantage in the 2021 NL Championship Series against the Dodgers was significant for the Braves. They went 3-0 in Atlanta and 1-2 at Dodger Stadium, a place that has never been kind to the Braves over the past decade. 

Atlanta has gone 2-10 at Dodger Stadium going back to the start of the 2018 season, when they began their streak of NL East division titles. They have gone 1-4 during the postseason at the iconic stadium during this stretch.

These are the facts. But it must be noted, this Braves team isn’t anything like the 2018 club that battled the Dodgers in the NL Division. That felt like a No. 1 vs. No. 16 matchup in the NCAA tourney. In fact, this Braves team isn’t anything like the 2021 club that beat the Dodgers in the NLCS.

With Max Fried, Spencer Strider and Charlie Morton at full strength, this is the most talented team in Braves history. The offense is no doubt the best the franchise has ever had. And if Morton continues to pitch like he has recently, this pitching staff should also be a key asset in October. 

Finishing with the NL’s best record could be beneficial, but finishing with MLB’s best record could also be quite rewarding. The World Series participant with the best regular-season winning percentage will have home-field advantage. 

With both teams losing on Sunday, the Braves are 3 1/2 games in front of the Orioles in the battle for MLB’s best record.

Now, I’ll take time to point out the Braves have MLB’s best road record, and the Orioles have the second-best road record, but I think most players would be lying if they’d rather not have home-field advantage.