Just in time for their four-game set with the St. Louis Cardinals' competition for the National League Central Division crown, the Atlanta Braves have started to clean house, firing their general manager, Frank Wren.
For until the last two weeks, it appeared that the Redbirds would have a tremendous advantage the last week of the season because the Pittsburgh Pirates would have to play an Atlanta team fighting for a post season berth and then the relatively talented Cincinnati Reds while the Cardinals were entertaining by the second division Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks.
But my how things have changed.
The Braves are 76-79 and 15 games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East. Atlanta has lost 14 of its last 18 games. Eight of those losses came by four runs or more. If people think the Cardinals can's score runs, they should check out the Braves who have only one regular, Freddie Freeman, batting at .265 or better for the month of Septemeber.
By losing Sunday night to the Reds when they inexplicably cleared the bullpen bench of every questionable pitcher they could muster except Justin Masterson, the Redbirds have put them in a spot where they need to win both their remaining two series to have a good shot to win the Central Division title outright.
Winning five or six of their last seven games is a distinct possibility for the Bucs. So the Cardinals have to beat up on their last place foes.
The Cubs, who got an initial boost after filling their September Roster with minor league call ups, have come back to earth with a 5-11 record over their last 16 games. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks have had to work hard to reclaim last place from the Colorado Rockies. But they did it by managing to lose 13 out of their last 18 games.
There is no reason for the Cardinals not to close out strong. But they can't make excuses and count on help. I know they've got some sick players and the Cubs are always up for a series with St. Louis. But it's time to roll up the sleeves and get things done.