National League– Who’s In and Who’s Out?

With a few weeks and about 12 games left in the baseball season, the playoff picture in the NL is slowly coming into focus. What we pretty much can ascertain about the Senior Circuit is that the Mets will take the East and the Cards the Central. The West is a battle between three teams. The Dodgers, who are back in first place, the Padres, who are .5 games out and the Giants, behind by 4.5 games.

The Wild Card is still unclear, but based on power, pitching and trends it looks like a two team race between whoever comes in second in the West and the Phillies, with the Giants and Marlins possible Wild Card winners but really showing little positive movement in the last week.

A look at team schedules shows that both the Dodgers play Arizona, Colorado and Pittsburgh each three times. The Padres play Arizona and Pittsburgh a total of 10 times, with the Diamondbacks on the schedule for 7 games.

Los Angeles plays three against the Giants, while the Padres play three against the Cards. There are no more head-to-head contests between the two teams. Sand Diego took the series handily 15-3.

Against Arizona, the Padres are 5-7, while going 2-1 against both St. Louis and Pittsburgh. The Dodgers are 8 -7 versus Arizona, 10- 6 when playing the Giants and 12 and 4 when playing the Rockies. They are 5-2 against the Pirates.

The Padres are 9-9 against their final opponents for the season, while the Dodgers are 35-19 against their upcoming opponents. The translation—advantage schedule-wise goes to the Dodgers.

Philadelphia, which has a good shot at the Wild Card, has 12 games left, including a lone make-up contest versus Houston. They play Wild Card opponent Florida six times, Washington three times and Chicago twice. Philadelphia is 8-5 against Florida, 3-2 when playing Chicago and 8-8 versus Washington. They are 4-1 in contests with Houston. Overall, they are 23 and 16. Philadelphia, in terms of schedule, has an advantage against the Padres for the Wild Card. Six games against a tough Florida club that is also contending for the Wild Card may appear to put the Phillies at a disadvantage, but Philadelphia has handled them well.

Schedule dictates that the Dodgers win the West and the Phillies the Wild Card. Then again, if schedule determined who would win, there’d be no reason to play the games. What you can say is that the calendar favors Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The question is will these teams take advantage of that fact?

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