There are 20 games away before the Atlanta Braves pulls off something that has never been done before, making the playoffs after a season ending September collapse. Braves also have about the same roster and management as last year, and trying to kill the drama from losing a nine-game lead against the soon to be world series champ Cardinals last year.
With a year of the Nationals, Pirates, Orioles and Athletics all have a shot of the playoffs, and the Red Sox stinking it up, the Braves season has been the most overlook story. They still have not clinched anything yet, but are on their way.
Atlanta is in a much better position than last year. The Braves are 6 1/2-game lead over the first team out of the playoffs Dodgers. Also with 20 games to go looks like The Braves are secure to go to the playoffs.
The reason they are in a better position than last year is 2 reasons: They have a version of a Stephen Strasburg still pitching, and a bullpen that is not overuse.
Here is a history lesson about how hard it is to have a successful season the year after a September collapse. There are 11 teams all time to have an epic September collapse: 1921 Pirates, 1964 Phillies, 1969 Cubs, 1983 Braves, 1995 Angels, 2005 Indians, 2007 Mets, 2009 Tigers, 2010 Padres, 2011 Red Sox, and of course the 2011 Atlanta Braves. The teams besides the 2011 Red Sox and Atlanta Braves all did not make the playoffs the next year. Also all of those teams had a worst record the next year except the 2007 Mets. The 2012 Red Sox look to repeat that history, but the Braves are on the verge of making history.
A major reason the Braves are so different from last year is because of Kris Medlen, having a 7-0 pitching record with a .81 ERA since Atlanta put him into the rotation.
Braves’s Medlen and Nationals’s Strasburg both needed Tommy John surgery in 2010. Both pitch in late 2011. Also both had an innings limit around 160. The different is Atlanta put Medlen in the bullpen pin to start the season while Washington started Strasburg in the lineup. Strasburg has surpassed his innings limit and is now shut down while Melden is still pitching.
With Medlen, Atlanta has now one of the deepest rotations in the league. The Braves also have the lowest ERA since the All Star break. This all means that I would be very surprise to see another September collapse.