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Braves' punishment for horrific collapse includes three days in Philadelphia

Another season of initial optimism ends in a disappointing three-game series with an equally eliminated division rival. That goes for the Phillies, too.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Who knows why the Braves, a one-time playoffs mainstay, can't seem to get their talented young team into the post season. Experts have several theories on Fredi Gonzalez's management skills, or on players not hitting their ceiling. But the true impetus for their ingrained culture of really just blowing it comes down to what we have determined is one critical factor:

  • The Barves suck.

B.J. Upton - coveted free agent and big get for the Barves pre-2012 - Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman, and Jason Heyward are the hot young core that has combined for 580 strikeouts. Assuming Heyward K's a few times in this series, they'll all hit 100 SO by season's end. Throw in Chris Johnson - the $23.5 million platoon player not playing in a platoon - and you hit 734 S. You also get a petulant man-child throwing tantrums in the dugout. Fun!

Tied for first place at the break, the Braves started scoring even fewer runs per game (3.8 down to 3.3) and have gone 5-17 in September. So bad was the Braves' collapse this year that they let the Mets climb into second place. The Mets.

So they dumped their GM and are fleeing to Cobb County for their new stadium, the development of which has been called "a political shitstorm and a mockery of the democratic process."

Heavy Hitters

Well, that's sort of the point. The Braves suck at hitting right now. But let's try some of their better bats anyway.

Freddie Freeman

Jason Heyward

Okay, well, it's not his offense so much that has him in the top ten of NL War with 6.29, though. It's his defense, which has him in the top three in defensive WAR. He's a free agent after next season, too. Isn't that something.

Justin Upton

Ah, here we go. Upton logged his first 100 RBI season ever this year. Yay! He also went 11-for-75 in September. Guh.

Probable Starters

Ervin Santana vs. Jerome Williams

Santana, who has been urging folks all year to "#SmellBaseball," was on the mound the day the Braves were notified they would be going home early this year, again, without even a chance to blow it in the first round of the playoffs, again. Santana, who before signing with Atlanta indicated that he wanted to play "preferably with a strong offensive team."

He would have needed a strong offense to bail him out of his last start, his third loss in a row, in which he gave up six hits and five earned runs in five innings of work. Unfortunately, he is on the Braves, and September has proven to Atlanta's pitching: You Are All Alone Out There.

Meanwhile, Jerome Williams has flourish in Philadelphia, barring the occasional 37-pitch first inning. He's got a 2.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP as a Phillie and just finished beating the A's for the third time this year (While on his third team). They weren't even in free fall the first two times.

Aaron Harang vs. A.J. Burnett

Harang threw the epitome of the Braves' season last week against the Nationals; even though he dueled Tanner Roark through five scoreless, all it took was an Ian Desmond two-run dagger to end the chance of victory. The Braves just aren't going to score for you. They just won't. And when he's facing a team like the Phillies, against whom he's thrown 18 innings over three starts and allowed 10 runs, 12 strikeouts, and eight walks this year, well.

This will presumably be the last start of A.J. Burnett's career. The one-year Phillie put his time in and announced that his body felt like "horse shit" after his last start. I can't imagine the toll a 162-game Major League season has on a 38-year-old body, especially one that's been giving up 3.7 BB/9 his whole career anyway. His last start saw six of them - twice the number of hits - and he's the NL's champion when starts (33), losses (17), walks (93), and earned runs (105) are concerned.

He will probably be remembered more for beating the Phillies in the 2009 World Series than for anything he did has a stitched-together meat puppet barely surviving through the end of a meaningless campaign.

Alex Wood vs. Cole Hamels

For 28 innings, Wood gave up only four runs. Then he faced the Pirates in his last start and watched an early throwing error bring one in, followed by a home run and an RBI double. But that's a 2.78 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP he's sporting. I'll be he thinks that's going to mean something.

It's nice the Phillies are finishing with their ace on the mound, which, let's face it, could be the last time he does so for them. Holy shit, this may be Cole's last start ever. I honestly don't know how to process this. I feel like I need to trap him somewhere so he can't leave. Is that okay? I bet it's fine.