September means playoff baseball is right around the corner. Last week I took a quick look at the American League situation. This week I take a closer look at the National League with only a few weeks left to go and try to decide who will make the cut!
First I want to examine the NL East, where it would seem the strong Washington Nationals wrapped up the division title around mid-June. As of the writing of this article (September 16) The Nats held a 11.5 game lead over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves. They’ve been strong all summer and are currently on a 7 – 3 run. They have this division in the bag and will look to improve on the disappointments of the past two seasons.
Over in the NL West the $7 Billion dollar payroll (Ok, $270 Million) of the Los Angeles Dodgers currently hold a 4 game lead over 2nd place San Francisco Giants on the back of a 8 – 2 run. What had been an ultra tight divisional race has stretched a bit as the Giants have recently lost 3 in a row. The Giants do though currently still hold one of the 2 Wild Card spots in the National League.
The perennially contending St. Louis Cardinals looked to have a firm grip on the NL Central, but the blazing hot Pittsburgh Pirates on the heels of a recent 8 –2 stretch are now within 3.5 games. Along with the Giants, the Pirates currently hold a Wild Card spot, but by only 1.5 games over the strong Milwaukee Brewers. The Cardinals are currently on a 3 game winning streak, are 6 – 4 in their last ten and should hold the division lead for the rest of the way.
The playoff race in the National League is a little different than the American League as the divisional races are nowhere near as tight and the number of legit contenders is a lot less. San Francisco will without a doubt hold onto their Wild Card spot and make the playoffs once again. The final spot will be held on to by the Pirates even though the Brewers are a strong team and getting better. Sorry folks, the drama is gone here. Pencil in the Cards, Dodgers, Nationals, Pirates and Giants as the teams with a ticket to the playoff dance.
Photo credit: metsmerizedonline.com