By: Ross Sutton
The National League has been incredibly competitive this year, resulting in eight teams being serious contenders for a playoff spot. These teams are: the Braves, Cubs, D-backs, Cardinals, Brewers, Rockies, Phillies, and Dodgers. The Braves, Cubs and Diamondbacks are currently in first in their respective divisions. Of these teams, the Braves and Cubs have the best chance to win their divisions right now, as the Braves have a three game lead over the Phillies, and the Cubs have a four game lead over the Cardinals, while the D-backs only lead the Rockies by one game in the NL West. If the playoffs started today, the Cardinals and Brewers would square off in the one-game Wild Card round in St. Louis. The Rockies are currently one game back of the second Wild Card spot, the Phillies are two games back, and the Dodgers are two and half games back. So amongst all of this chaos, who will make the playoffs from the National League?
From the National League West, I believe the Rockies and Dodgers will make the playoffs. If you look at the remaining schedule for each of these three teams, the Rockies and Dodgers have a much easier ride the rest of the regular season compared to the Diamondbacks. The Rockies are only one game back of the D-backs and the Dodgers are two and a half games back, so with plenty of games left between the three teams, these leads are certainly not insurmountable. I also think the Dodgers and Rockies are more talented teams overall compared to the Diamondbacks, so for these reasons, I believe the Rockies will win the NL West with the Dodgers clinching the second Wild Card Spot.
In the NL Central, I think the Cubs and Cardinals will make the playoffs. The Cubs are playing pretty well recently and have a four game lead over the Cardinals right now, so I do not see the Cardinals catching the Cubs in the division. The Cardinals currently have a half game lead over the Brewers for the first Wild Card spot, and St. Louis is one of the hottest teams, with one of the hottest players (Matt Carpenter) in the league right now. Therefore, I believe the Cardinals will be able to hold on to the first Wild Card Spot in the National League. In my opinion, the Brewers do not have the pitching in order to hold off the Dodgers for the second Wild Card spot, so I think they will come up short of the playoffs this year.
The NL East is a little easier to predict, as the Braves currently have a three game lead over the Phillies, who have not played well at all recently. The Phillies play some of the worst defense in the MLB, and that is certainly not a winning formula. The Braves also have some great young hitters and pitchers, so this division will likely belong to Atlanta once the regular season is over.
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