MLB: And Down the Stretch They Come in Playoff Races
There are only a few weeks left in the month of September and that means we are getting closer to the MLB playoffs. The divisions in both leagues are virtually locked-up except for the NL Central, which has the St Louis Cardinals leading the division, but has the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds breathing down their necks.
As it stands the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s have a good lead for first place in all of their divisions while in the NL Atlanta Braves and LA Dodgers are very close to officially securing the first place title and a playoff spot. Although 5 of the 6 divisions looked like they are a lock, we have to remember it’s baseball and anything can happen with 9-10 games left in the season.
Looking at the NL wildcard race first, it is virtually linked with the NL Central and that all three teams that are fighting for first place will at least see one postseason game this October. However much to the dismay of Expos fans or people who just don’t like the Nationals, the Nats have been making a comeback. They are the hottest team in baseball right now and depending on what point you read this, they are about 4.5 – 5.5 games out of one of the two wildcard spots. Arizona has a slim hope, but that hope is leaving quickly.
I personally don’t think the Nationals will have enough time to take a spot, especially with a 3-game series coming up against the Cardinals. The series between those two could be the difference between the Nationals making the post-season and not making the post season, so certainly keep an eye on that one. Also keep an eye out for the Reds and Pirates who will play each other 6 times out of their remaining 9 games. If this is a back and forth series the Cardinals could keep the division. These 6 games we will witness could even be a post season preview, which makes it even more exhilarating.
Back to the AL Wildcard race, which is the dogfight of the MLB. Right now as it stands, six teams are hunting for the Wild Card spots with the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays leading the pack. The Cleveland Indians are 0.5 games behind Texas, and it’s entirely feasible that they could be leapfrogging each other for the rest of the season. We can’t forget the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and yes, the Kansas City Royals are only 1-2.5 games behind Texas. Every game counts for all of these teams and this is what makes the end of September such a thrilling time of year for baseball.
The Rays just wrapped up a series with the Rangers and have 3 games coming up against the Yankees and the Orioles, while the Indians, Rangers and Royals have an easier schedule than the O’s and Rays, although the Rangers do have a 3-game series against the Royals this weekend. The people who made the schedule once again did a great job and we are all in for some good baseball for the next couple of weeks.
As for me, who do I think will take the wildcard spots in both leagues? Well for the NL I personally feel its almost inevitable that the Reds and Pirates will play to decide who moves. The Cards have managed to sneak back into first and I don’t think they will give it up for the rest of the month. As for the AL I like change and I like seeing different teams in the playoffs. I would love to see the Indians and Royals take both spots, but I really believe it will be Tampa and Cleveland who will face each other to move on in the post-season. Sorry everyone else.
Joe Madden seems to always work his magic around this time of year and the Indians don’t have to face anyone that is fighting for the wildcard spot. The Tribe face the Astros, White Sox and Twins. They are certainly not the strongest of teams and this will be a great opportunity for the Indians to take advantage of their scheduling.
All in all we have some exciting baseball coming up, so sit back and enjoy what could easily be the best baseball of the season.
Who do you think will take the two Wild Card Spots, let us know on twitter, facebook, or comment below!
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