Big developments in the NL East as the end of the regular season nears.
The Braves won again Tuesday night to move into a tie with the Mets at 85-51, and on Wednesday morning, the Mets placed Max Scherzer on the 15-day injured list with oblique discomfort. Manager Buck Showalter told reporters that Scherzer is expected to miss only a start or two.
"It was actually pretty good news, all things considered, that there wasn't something torn," Showalter said.
The Mets have more starting pitching depth than most with David Peterson, a sixth starter who would be a mid-rotation piece for many teams, but Scherzer is Scherzer and he's enjoying another Cy Young-caliber season with a 2.26 ERA.
The Mets have spent one day all season out of first place, on April 11 when they were 3-2. They had a lead of 10½ games on June 1 and have played very well overall, going 50-34 even after three straight losses. But the Braves have been the hottest team in baseball for months, going 62-24 over that same span.
This is meaningful news for the Phillies because it could determine who they face in the first round of the playoffs. For weeks, the assumption had been that if the Phillies finish in the 5-seed they'd play the Braves and if they finish with the 6-seed they'd face the Cardinals. But now they could very well end up playing the Mets in that opening Best of Three.
No team has handled the Phillies this season like the Mets, who went 14-5 in the season series. The Phils have held their own against the National League's other top teams, going 6-6 vs. the Braves, 4-3 vs. the Dodgers, Cardinals and Padres and 4-2 against the Brewers.
The Phillies have seven more meetings with Atlanta -- three on the road next weekend, four at home the following weekend. Those will be enormous games for both teams as the Braves try to claim a bye and the Phillies attempt to end their decade-long playoff drought.
In between, the Phils have eight games against the Marlins and Nationals, teams they've beaten in 17 of the last 20 meetings.