Since the advent of divisional play, postseason success depends more on which team’s hot when it begins than which team ended the year with the best record (ask Anaheim, Philadelphia, Seattle, etc.) or who had the best roster… see also Washington.
The Atlanta Braves weren’t supposed to be here but they are and this means they could win it all. To do that they need to play ball the way did at the beginning of the year when they were never out of a game and key players were playing like . . . well, key players.
Playing that well gave pitchers some slack, but as the season wore on and the lineup cooled down that slack disappeared.
The Braves won 17 games in both May and August, and 16 games in September yet they hardly entered the NLDS on a roll. They won seven of their last 15 and lost four of their last five to the Mets and Phillies.
Nevertheless, the Braves clinched before everyone else and watched the other four teams beat themselves up on Monday; two of them repeated the process on Tuesday. That was fun.
The Brewers and Rockies (twice) emptied their bullpens and benches just to get to postseason play. The Dodgers needed just one extra game to get in and the Atlanta Braves consulted the medics and Jobu in a fruitless effort to get Dansby Swanson ready for the Dodgers.
No NL team enters the postseason scorching hot but all played meaningful games well for three to four days after the Braves clinched. That means the Braves must only flip the proverbial switch, they must also regain their hitting stroke one through eight without Swanson.