I’m pleased to support a team in the National League. There’s a lot of reasons for this (including: no DH), but right now I’m pleased because as we come down to the final three weekends of the schedule, the playoff situation is soooo much simpler in the NL than in the AL.
So here’s the teams still in the running, and their remaining games (you can click on the graphic to embiggen it… and then print it out, hang it up, and let everybody know just how big a baseball nerd you are):
The teams at left are ordered by current record – as of Friday morning, September 13. Red numbers indicate away games; those numbers also indicate the number of games vs. the opponents remaining. Here’s the bullet points:
- Yes, the Braves’ lead over the Dodgers is NOT technically 3 games – the standings will tell you it’s just 2. But since Atlanta owns the tie-breaker, it is, in effect, 3 games. Now watch as I try to explain the inconsistency that’s about to occur…
- That said, I suppose the Dodgers’ lead over both Pittsburgh and St. Louis is effectively 2 games… since LA owns tie-breakers against both of those teams. Whatever – it feels safer to have them further behind Atlanta, so I did it that way. Sue me.
- Pittsburgh owns the tie-breaker (10-9) with St. Louis, so the Pirates are now in the lead in the NL Central, despite being tied in record.
- Cincinnati is 2.5 games behind in the division, but firmly in hold of that last Wild Card spot. It is their to lose, but there will be important games for them vs. Pittsburgh – six of them. In addition to the jockeying going on for the division title, the tie-breaker is not yet decided between those clubs (Pitt currently holds it: 7-6 margin).
- In case it comes up, St. Louis owns the tie-break advantage vs. Cincinnati (11-8).
- It all three of those teams end up tied for the NL Central crown – that would be awesome – then we’ll have another post about how that tie-breaker scenario works out, because it is most likely that each team would own one tie-breaker vs. one, but not the other.
Why is Washington on this chart? Because they still think they have some hope – and they’re actually selling playoff tickets… but probably not too many of them. Yes, I suppose Pittsburgh could blow out Cincy while Washington goes on a tear (they have been playing a bit better lately), but of all the teams on this list, they have the hardest schedule – clearly.
For the Nats, that -5.5 indicates their distance behind that Reds team that will be clawing its way forward: Washington’s elimination magic number is now 11. Thus, if the Reds go even 6-9 the rest of the way, Washington will have to finish 12-4 to catch them… but at least they own that tie-breaker.
So there you go: all you need to know about the NL races… except how the Braves are going to field a pitching staff for the rest of the year with arms falling off of… seemingly everybody. But that’s another topic.