The Playoff Push

With ten days left in the season, the final playoff spots are still up for grabs. Nobody has clinched a Wildcard birth yet, and three of the six divisions are still unclaimed.

Although there are still three remaining division championships up in the air, the Dodgers should clinch the National League West soon, and barring a collapse, the Cubs should take care of the Central. Boston should close out the American League East. The Dodgers have a magic number of one, so unless they lose the rest of their games, and the Diamondbacks win the rest of theirs, it’s all but over. Then of course we have the Washington Nationals, the Cleveland Indians, and the Houston Astros who have already punched their tickets to October baseball.

The Cubs have a 4.5 game lead over the Brewers, and they are one game into a four game series together. This could get interesting depending on how the next three games go. If Milwaukee can win the next three, it’s just a 1.5 game lead for the Cubs, and with a week left it could be a slugfest to the finish. But don’t count out the Cardinals either. They are just 5 games behind the Cubs and .5 game behind the Brewers. This a race that may come down to the wire. The division leading Cubs have their current series with the Brewers, a series with Cardinals, and end the year against the last place Reds. The Cardinals have a series with the Pirates, who are just 2-8 in their last ten games. After that, they will have their series against the Cubs and the Brewers. This race is up for grabs, but I think the Cubs will be able to do enough to hold the 4.5 game lead. These rivalries will be fun and should make the last week and a half fun for that division, as well as the Wildcard race which all three teams could be involved in.

The Red Sox have a three game lead over their rival Yankees, and have already cliched a spot in the playoffs, either by winning the division or slipping to a Wildcard birth. They have a series with a bad Reds team, a bad Blue Jay team, and a very good Astros team. The Yankees will square off with the same bad Blue Jays, a struggling Tampa Bay Rays team, and end the season with another series against the last place Blue Jays. This actually favors the Yankees, and I think they have a very good shot at making up the 3.0 games and win the division. It won’t be easy for either team, and with a three game lead, the Red Sox should be able to hold on, but it’s often the case that bad teams try to play spoiler, and end the season on a high note, so we’ll see how it plays out, this too should be a fun race to watch.

Of course the most closely watched races will be for the Wildcards. We can pretty much write in the Yankees, and if they do catch the Red Sox, Boston will already have a spot clinched. The Yankees have a 6.5 game lead over the number two wild card holder, the Minnesota Twins. But the race is far from over.

The Twins are coming off of being swept by the Yankees, but are playing one of the worst teams in the league right now, the Detroit Tigers. After a four game set with Detroit, they have three against the hottest team in the league, the Cleveland Indians, them end the season with three more against the Tigers. The Twins are being chased by the Angels, who were just swept by the Indians, and the Texas Rangers, who have just won four in a row. The Royals are still in the hunt at 3.5 games out as well. The Angels have three more tough games against a very good Astros team, and then they take on a bad White Sox club, and end the season with a struggling Seattle Mariners team. The Rangers have three against the A’s, whose record is way worse than how they have been playing, three against the Astros and then end the season with another three game series against the A’s. The Royals have a very good shot at making a run at the Wildcard. They have a three game set with they awful White Sox, a makeup game with the Yankees, three against a very bad Tigers team, and then end the season against the Diamondbacks. This race will probably come down to the final game of the season, I hope!

The National league Wildcard is also very close, the Diamondbacks have separated themselves from the rest of the pack with a 6 game lead for the number one Wildcard spot. The Rockies, Brewers and Cardinals make up the rest of the contenders for the second spot. The Rockies have struggled a bit, going 4-6 in their last 10 games, which has allowed Milwaukee and Saint Louis a chance to get back into the hunt. With the Brewers, Cardinals, and Cubs beating up on each other down the stretch, the Rockies can begin to pull away from the pack. It won’t be an easy stretch though, they will have three against a struggling San Diego Padres, three against the Marlins, who are on a current three game win streak, and then end their campaign with three games against the division leading Dodgers.

If I were to make a prediction, I think it will go like this. The Twins have a difficult schedule, and will slip out of the race and be overtaken by the Angels. I think the Angels will turn it on at the right time, and play good ball the last ten games of the season. The Royals are my second pick. They are facing very weak competition to end the season, and very well could make a final push to overcome the 3.5 games they trail the Twins. It’s a bit of a long shot, but again, a weak slate of opponents make it very possible. For the National league, it’s so murky that it’s very tough to tell how it will play out. With the Brewers and Cardinals playing each other, and the Cubs, it’s really going to depend on if one of those teams can beat up on the others and win six or seven of their final games. If Milwaukee and St. Louis play somewhere around .500 ball, I don’t see how either of them can make it through. I think the Cubs hold on to the Central, and the Rockies hold on to the number two Wildcard. The matchups should look like this, if I am correct:

American League:

Wildcard – Angels @ Yankees

ALDS – Angels/Yankees @ Indians

ALDS – Red Sox @ Astros

National League:

Wildcard – Rockies @ Diamondbacks

NLDS – Rockies/Diamondbacks @ Dodgers

NLDS – Cubs @ Nationals

Should be a great end to the season, and the postseason matchups are just as exciting. Have fun watching!

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