A Tale of Two Septembers: Phillies Surging While the Braves Implode

Watching the Phillies and the Braves since September 1 has been exhilarating for Phillies fans and downright miserable for Braves fans.  The Phillies have gone from 3 games behind the Braves at the start of play on September 1 to 3 up on the Braves at the start of play today.  How have the two teams flip-flopped in such a short period of time?

To start, the Phillies have had the best record in the NL in September, going 12-3.  (That's the second best record in baseball this month, behind the Twins by only half a game, as the Twins have won the same number but lost only 2.)  The Braves, on the other hand, have gone 6-9 this month, better than only the sad group of the Nationals, Brewers, Pirates, D-Backs, and Dodgers.

The Phillies have won both at home and on the road this month.  They're a sterling 5-2 at home and an even more impressive 7-1 on the road in September.  The Braves have losing records at home and on the road.  Despite having success at home all year, they've only gone 4-5 this month in Atlanta.  But they've continued their season-long road woes this month, going 2-4 in away games.

The Phillies vaunted top-3 starters have been great this month, but their other starters have faltered, giving them only the 8th best ERA this month in the NL - at 3.76.  The Braves' pitching has been worse though, with a 4.13 ERA, good for 12th in the NL in September.  Both teams have given up about the same number of runs over their 15 games - Phillies having given up 64 while the Braves have given up 66.

It's the two offenses that are worlds apart this month.  While slumping through the middle part of the season after a hot first month and a half, the Phillies offense has woken up.  The Phillies have scored 88 runs this month, good for second in the NL.  They've done so with an .853 OPS, also second in the NL.  They lead the league with a .378 OBP and are third with a .475 SLG.  On the base paths, they've swiped an impressive 15 bases, good for first in the league, and they've been caught only twice.

In contrast, the Braves' offense has been horrible this month.  They've scored only 52 runs, good for only 10th in the league.  They've put up an OPS almost 170 points lower than the Phils' -- at .684, they're 9th in the NL in September.  They've gotten on base better than league average, as they have a .329 OBP, which is 5th in the NL.  But, they've had a massive power outage, with only a .355 SLG, which is 14th in the league.  And they've done nothing to help themselves on the bases, as they've stolen only 1 base while getting caught 5 times.

Thanks to the Phillies' incredible September, they sit atop the entire NL by 3 games and are only 3 games short of having the best record in baseball.

Thanks to the Braves' horrendous September, they are only 0.5 games up in the NL Wild Card race and are at serious risk of missing the playoffs for the fifth season in a row.

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