Today I thought it might be fun to try to make playoff predictions for the National League. After looking at all of the contenders, this has proven to be nearly impossible.
The American League has been set the entire season, with the Red Sox, Astros and Indians as the heavily favored division winners, with the Yankees right behind them as the first wild card. The only question is whether the Oakland Athletics or Seattle Mariners will earn the last spot. In the National League, the only question is… EVERYTHING.
The NL EAST- Braves or Phillies? Or Nationals?
As of today, the Braves have a 2 game lead over the Phillies, but this race will go down to the wire. In September, the Braves have the harder schedule, but the Phillies have played down to lesser teams this season. Also, seven of the last eleven games for both teams are against EACH OTHER. If both teams keep pace, the winners here will be the fans. This division is too close to call on August 22nd. Not to mention the Nationals, who still have Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper, are only 7.5 games out with over thirty games left to be played, several of which against the Braves and Phillies.
What is going on with the Brewers and Cardinals?
The Milwaukee Brewers’ season has certainly taken a hit. For one prolonged stretch, they were the best team by record in the National League. While they have remained relevant, with the talent to beat any team on a given night, they have fallen toward the middle of the pack in the NL. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals fired their manager in mid-July and now find themselves in the playoff picture. They have won eight of their last ten as of today. If, and only if, they stay hot in September, they can pull out a wild card spot. Maybe the Cardinals coming on will light a fire under the Brew Crew.
The Wild NL West
Your guess is as good as mine here. This is the only division in baseball where you could make a legitimate argument that three different teams, the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Dodgers, are the best. All three have shown decent consistency, and it looks like all three will keep pace. Of note, the Dbacks have the toughest remaining schedule in the NL.
The Only Safe Bet is the Chicago Cubs
The Cubs are going to make the postseason, and right now, would be my pick for NL Champions. They have the experience, one the most clutch and high-powered offenses in the game, and all-star talent up and down the roster. They just traded for a former World Series MVP in Cole Hamels, and one of the best hitters in the NL over the last two seasons in Daniel Murphy. As of the time this was written, I’d pick them in a series over the two other division leaders, Arizona or Atlanta. I wish I could go back to the beginning of the season and put some money on the Cubbies!
If the Phillies don’t win the East, they will miss the playoffs completely.
The Braves will get in either way.
The Rockies will win the NL West.
Either the Diamondbacks or Dodgers will also get in.
The Mets will not make the playoffs.
What do you think?
Photo Credits- Sporting News, Last Word on Baseball, Bleed Cubbie Blue
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