We took a look at spending and contenders a while back. With only a week to go in the season, every team has played 156 games (rainouts and other postponements up to date) and there are six games left for everybody. Looking at the standings, it’s very fascinating to note how close all the races are in the American League, while the National League has everything pretty much figured out except who the NL East division winner is, and who will win the second wild card. Let’s see what we have then.
The NL is a bit easier to figure out so we’ll do that first. Basically we have the Washington Nationals leading the way in the East with Atlanta four games behind. They don’t play each other the rest of the way. Atlanta has clinched the first wild card.
For the rest of the Nationals’ slate, they play three games against the Cardinals and three against the Phillies. Atlanta will most likely be rooting for the Cardinals then. The Cardinals obviously need to win a few to lock up the second wild card. The Braves get to beat up on the Mets and the Pirates. Despite the commanding lead the Nats enjoy, this race isn’t over.
The Cardinals don’t exactly have the easiest schedule, having to deal with the two best teams in the league in the Nationals and the NL Central division winner Reds. Assuming the Dodgers win tonight, they’ll only be three games up for the second wild card, and four games up on Milwaukee. The Dodgers host Colorado and the NL West division winner Giants to end the season, which have implications on the draft race if you’re a Cubs fan. The Brewers get to play the woeful Astros and the Padres. The Diamondbacks have an elimination number of ONE, so if the Cardinals win just once it’s all over for them. However they can make things interesting as they host the Cubs and the Rockies to end the year. The Phillies also have an E# of one, and travel to Miami and DC to close out their slate. It’s a safe bet to assume that Arizona and Philly are done.
Essentially, with the Cards’ magic number at 4, they are in the driver’s seat and the Dodgers and Brewers have a miniscule chance of making it in. If they sweep the Nats they make it more interesting as the Braves can close within a game (assuming Atlanta does their job and wins out) before the last series. But we’ll just make the Nostradumbass prediction that Washington wins the East, Atlanta takes the first wild card and the Cards grab the second wild card.
Here it gets really tricky as nobody has clinched yet and every division except the AL West has the top two teams within two games of each other. Oakland is four back of Texas right now. Lots of teams still in it, even without the second wild card. Can’t wait to see how the dynamics change when Houston scoots over there.
The races here are actually really exciting. The two-time AL champion Texas Rangers have to play the Angels and the A’s to close out the season. That leaves room for a sure-fire clincher or a total collapse, as both of those opponents are still very much alive in both the division and the wild card even with so few games left. The A’s get to beat up the Mariners before heading to Texas, while the Angels do the opposite. Oakland holds the second wild card in this league, with the Angels two games back. Texas’ magic number is 3, while the A’s wild card magic number is 5. Down to the wire with these guys.
The White Sox have been choking a bit lately (bummer, I know) and find themselves two back of the Tigers in the Central, and nearly eliminated from the wild card chase. It’s basically win the division or bust for both teams in this division. Detroit has a really easy schedule, or so we think, as they close out with the Royals and the Twins. The Sox, on the other hand, will have to finish up this four-game set with the Rays before heading to Cleveland. Detroit’s magic number is 5, and it’s not looking good for the South Siders.
The East is crazy. Neither the Yankees nor the O’s can pull away from each other and the Rays are pesky as usual. The Yankees hold a slim one game lead for the division and face off against the perpetually injured Blue Jays and the self-destructing Red Sox. The O’s also get to play against Boston, but then go head-to-head against the Rays to finish, after Tampa is done with the White Sox. Both the Rays and the Angels are within two games of the wild card spot currently owned by Oakland. Oakland can also sneak into the first wild card spot if the O’s falter.
In the event of a tie between any one of the various teams, the tiebreaker game scheduling is completely psychotic. My best guess is that there are no ties, and the Yankees win the East, the Tigers win the Central, the Rangers get the West and Baltimore and Oakland get the two wild cards in that order.
Stranger things have happened though. Enjoy these last six games.
Oh, and the Cubs are still eliminated. Fuck.