Now that Bonds’ chase for 756 has ended, focus has switched to division and wild card races. Right now, more than half of the teams are within six games of either their division or the Wild Card. This is setting up for an extremely exciting finish to the season and one that baseball fans are really looking forward too. Here is a quick overview of each division and wild card:
The Red Sox have been playing mediocre ball since the All Star break and their lead in the division has been cut by 4.5 games since then. Their lineup has struggled recently, but their pitching is good enough to balance out the poor hitting. The Yankees have been on fire since the All Star break and they have stormed to the front of the AL Wild Card, with a division crown not out of the picture. The offense has pounded the ball, but recent struggles by Mariano Rivera leave a few question marks in the back of the bullpen. Predicted Winner: Boston Red Sox
The Tigers and Indians have been fighting for first place for a couple of months now and there seems to be no end in sight. Both teams have some glaring weaknesses, but also have their strengths. The Tigers’ offense is still capable of breaking out at any moment, but their pitching needs a lot of work. Verlander has been excellent, but the rest of the staff has struggled throughout the season and the bullpen is unreliable. The Indians face different problems, as their offense is inconsistent and not capable of putting up big numbers often. The pitching staff is what holds the team up with Carmona and Sabathia leading the team. Predicted Winner: Cleveland Indians, AL Wild Card: Detroit Tigers
One of the most complete divisions in baseball, the Angels and Mariners look to be two potential playoff teams. The Angels have been strong all season with a consistent lineup and deep pitching staff. The rotation is excellent with Escobar and Lackey leading the way and the bullpen is equally good with Francisco Rodriguez at the back. The Mariners lineup is mediocre, but a good rotation and superb bullpen have kept them afloat. Unfortunately the Angels are a more complete team and will eventually prevail. Predicted Winner: Los Angeles Angels
After such a great start to the season, the Mets now look extremely vulnerable as the Braves and Phillies have caught up quickly. A strong starting staff and good end of the bullpen has held up the Mets’ inconsistent offense. The Phillies have a great lineup, but a poor starting staff could ultimately cost them. The lack of a true closer is also a clear whole in the Phillies. The Braves may actually be in the best shape to win the division with phenomenal hitting and great starting staff. The bullpen also has been excellent, setting the Braves up for another division crown. Predicted Winner: Atlanta Braves
Possibly the most exciting race, the Central has the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals all vying for the division title. The Brewers have lead for most of the season, but they are young and may not have the experience for a tough September. If experience doesn’t do them in, the inconsistent lineup and mediocre pitching staff will eventually end the Brewers’ playoff hopes. The Cubs and Cardinals have both gone on streaks to get back into the playoff picture. The Cubs have done so with timely hitting and good pitching, while the Cardinals have used Ankiel’s comeback as motivation to power themselves to victory. Predicted Winner: St. Louis Cardinals, NL Wild Card: Chicago Cubs
The least talked about division in baseball is the NL West, but that doesn’t mean that the Diamondbacks, Padres, and Rockies aren’t fighting for a division title. After taking the lead after the All Star Break, Arizona’s lineup isn’t overpowering, but the team’s pitching has kept the games mostly low scoring. The Padres score even fewer runs, but possess an even better pitching staff to compensate for their offensive woes. The Rockies, on the other hand, possess a dominant lineup, but lack a stable pitching staff. Even so, their hitting skills may be enough to win this division. Predicted Winner: Colorado Rockies
2 thoughts on “MLB Playoff Races Heat Up”
You know, only we Sox fans could be this nervous about having ONLY a 5.5 Game lead, and ONLY the Yankees fans could be this positive about being ONLY 5.5 GB. The AL East is going down to the wire.
The Yankees have a very good shot at sweeping the Redsox at Fenway this weekend; but this will be short lived any playoff right would have them facing the Angels a big tombstone for the Yankees. The Phillies pretty much can sweep the Mets this weekend and make an attempt to de-thrown them for the viable 1st place finish. However the big suprise will the Chicago Cubs; behind sweet Lou they will take it all this fall. My money is on the Cubs Vs RedSox in the World Series.