A 162 game season is long. The first 40-45 games are filled with novelty and fun as the game we love returns. Then the last 40-45 games games are filled with drama and suspense as playoff implications are everywhere. But baseball does not follow a script and there is no algorithm to decide daily winners. It is why we love the game. Let’s take a look at the NL Wild Card Race.
Today the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks woke up as division leaders. The Phillies playing the last place San Diego Padres and the Dbacks playing the last place Cincinnati Reds. Neither first place team managed to score a run in their respective games! In his major league debut, Jacob Nix pitched six scoreless innings for the Padres. Despite the above graphic showing the heart of the Dbacks order with good career success versus Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani, Arizona was held to only 5 hits.
The Phillies fall a percentage point behind the Atlanta Braves who hammered the Milwaukee Brewers 10 - 1. The Brewers of course currently hold the last Wild Card spot behind the Phillies.
The Diamondbacks share first place in the NL West with the Los Angeles Dodgers. When the tie for first is broken, one team is going to the playoffs while the other is going home. More than just playing the role of spoiler, the Colorado Rockies defeated the Dodgers Friday to take back their series opening loss. If the Rockies can win the next two home games versus the Dodgers, they would move to within 0.5 games of the 5-time NL West champs. Friday they won on the strength of a Ryan McMahon homer after he replaced Nolan Arenado who left with shoulder discomfort. It’s a nice story but the Rox need Arenado to back in the lineup before the end of this series.
The Chicago Cubs beat the Washington Nationals to take a 3 game lead over the Brewers. The loss puts the Nats 5.5 games back of a Wild Card position.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants are in the midst of a 4-game series. They have split the first two games. If the Giants win the two weekend games, they tie the Pirates in the pursuit for playoff glory at 4.5 games out. If the Pirates win both games, they put the Giants firmly in the pretenders pile of playoff candidates.
Coming off a road series wins in Pittsburgh and Miami, the Cardinals started their series in Kansas City with a 7-0. Somewhat safely assuming they will at least split the two weekend games, the rest of the August schedule becomes extremely difficult. Of all contenders and pretenders in the playoff hunt, the Cardinals go through the toughest upcoming stretch hosting the Nationals and Brewers then flying out to Los Angeles and Colorado.
Buckle up folks, this is going to be a great stretch run.
FINAL STANDINGS PREDICTION: