3 MLB postseason opponents Braves should hope to avoid

The Atlanta Braves are NL East champs and World Series favorites, but these three opponents could spoil their parade.
Ronald Acuña Jr., Marcell Ozuna, Atlanta Braves
Ronald Acuña Jr., Marcell Ozuna, Atlanta Braves / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
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Braves should hope to avoid the Phillies in the MLB playoffs

The Philadelphia Phillies started last season slowly before a red-hot finish and a shocking underdog run to the World Series, which included eliminating the Braves 3-1 in the NLDS. Well, this season has much the same shape to it so far. The Braves lead the division, but the Phillies are sprinting to the finish line after exiting the gates at a leisurely stroll.

A recent string of losses has cast doubt upon Philadelphia's actual standing in the wild card race, but a look beneath the surface paints a scary picture for prospective opponents. The Phillies have hit a tying or go-ahead home run in the eighth or ninth inning five times in the last three weeks. Their record in those games is 0-5.

On one hand, yikes, the Phils need to close (and start) games better. On the other hand, it's almost impossible to make as many heroic late-game comebacks as the Phillies without winning a single game. At some point, the luck meter is going to point in the other direction and the Phils are going to get positive breaks.

Philadelphia is a deeply flawed team and it's risky to approach the strong-as-steel Braves with a whimpering start, only to hope for late-game heroics to save the day. That strategy won't work. But, we know the Phillies are capable of a deep run and we have seen them eliminate a version of this Braves team.

Bryce Harper has his reputation for a reason. Trea Turner is back to his old ways, and the Phillies' full complement of hitters — Nick Castellanos, J.T. Realmuto, Kyle Schwarber — can keep pace with the Braves with dingers alone. If the Phillies' pitchers toss a solid series and their hits continue to take the black and head north of the wall, maybe the Braves get ousted sooner than expected.