How I learned to stop worrying and love the wild card

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The AJC’s Mark Bradley has a column up today with the headline: “With Lee again a Phil, are the Braves playing for the wild card?”

My answer — which I’ve been giving anyone who will listen since midnight Monday — is “Yes. Yes they are.”  Even if you set aside their top two pitchers who will often face opposing aces, they will have a supreme advantage in 60+ starts in which their starters face vastly inferior three and four starters from the opposition.  That’s a recipe for a double-digit division lead, possibly before the All-Star break.

For that reason, I don’t plan on considering Philadelphia as the Braves’ primary competition next year. I’m going to consider the competition to be the Reds, Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, Cubs, Padres and whoever else might muster enough for a run at the wild card. It’ll make my summer much easier, that’s for sure.

And it’s not like such a thing is defeatism. Why not? Because in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007, the NL pennant winner was the wild card team. And in 2006 the pennant winner was the weakest of any of the NL playoff representatives during the regular season. And last year’s pennant winner — the Giants — mowed down the Phillies’ already-formidable rotation.

Lament the near impossible task of winning the NL East next year, Braves fans (and Marlins, Mets and Nationals fans), but don’t worry too much if the wild card represents the best shot at your team making the playoffs. NL wild card teams do quite well with that, thank you very much.

Mets sign Vance Worley and Scott Copeland

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The Mets have signed pitchers Vance Worley and Scott Copeland minor league deals.

Worley had signed with the Reds in January but was cut by Cincinnati after failing to impress in spring training. That comes on the heels of a disastrous 2017 in which he pitched in 24 games for the Marlins, 12 as a starter, and posted an ugly 6.91 ERA, giving up 99 hits in 71.2 innings. He was much better in 2016 with the Orioles, in which he had a 3.53 ERA with a much lower hit rate in 31 relief appearances and four starts. As is so often the case, when a guy has some good year, as Worley has, he’ll get two or three or sometimes more chances to show he’s truly cooked. Worley will now try to make the most of it, most likely at Los Vegas.

Copeland with the Marlins last year too, though he spent all year at Triple-A. Copeland hasn’t appeared in a major league game since 2015, when he posted a 6.46 ERA in 15.1 innings with the Blue Jays.

Viva organizational depth.