Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The final week of the regular season is here, and by this time next week we will know who is in and who is out. How will it all shake out? Here is my take:
NL East: The Nationals currently hold a 2 game lead on the best record in baseball and ran away with an NL East that was expected to be close. Instead the Braves choked in September, falling under .500 even and tied with the Mets for second place. The Mets.
NL Central: This is the one with some intrigue left. The Pirates have a chance still just 2.5 games behind, but have won 7 of their last 10 games to stay on top. Milwaukee faded badly down the stretch and though leading much of the year will miss out on the playoffs once again this season.
NL West: The Dodgers have this all but wrapped up, thanks to taking 2 of 3 from the Giants two weeks ago. Their magic number stands at 3 and should be wrapped up mid-week, just getting their formidable playoff rotation set.
Wild Card: Right now it is all but wrapped up here, though the Pirates battling for the NL Central is quite interesting. Should be Pirates/Cardinals and the Giants, with Milwaukee 4.5 back from a WC berth.
This second wild card has been around for a couple of seasons now, and I for one am really in favor of it. Talk about making a difference in fighting for that division crown! I would love it if the Cards and Giants battled it out in the one-game playoff, as we would then have the two teams that have taken turns representing the National League in the World Series since 2009.
AL Central: Again, some intrigue here with the Royals only 1.5 games back from the lead, but the Royals blew a golden opportunity over the weekend, only winning 1 of 3 against the Tigers up top.
AL East: All locked up by Baltimore. Love it.
AL Wild Card: The A’s went into a free fall as well, but with their pitching of Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija might be able to make some noise if they win the 1 game playoff. The Royals are currently in the 2nd spot with the pesky Mariners only 1.5 behind that second spot. The Indians are 3.5 back and the Yankees are 4.5 back but don’t stand a realistic shot. Again, I’m hoping the Royals overtake the Tigers for the AL Central, leaving the Tigers and A’s to duke it out in the one game playoff. Lester v Max Scherzer should be must-see TV.