While the American League Playoff spots are all filled, with just some minor adjustments to each teams plane tickets, the National League, with only 3 games left has not had a single team clinch a playoff spot.
In the NL East the Mets slow painful death has been fun to watch. They have played uninspired, Willie Randolph looks confused and it is clear there is no leadership on that team. The Phillies meanwhile have been playing inspired since the beginning of the year. Remember when Charlie Manuel nearly got into a fight with a reporter? Every website, newspaper and TV station stated that Manuel’s job was in jeopardy. I’ll have to admit that he looked defeated early in the year, he looked burned out. But that event changed things, Manuel got his house in order and his team responded. Granted it has been difficult season in Philadelphia anyway, with a thin pitching staff (as opposed to an under achieving one for the Mets). But the Phillies got a roll against the Mets and have carried in through the month of September and despite everything, they are currently tied for the Division lead after a lot of people left them for dead or an outside chance of the Wild Card. Right now, the Phillies want it more than the Mets. The Phillies have been proactive about their situation, unlike the Mets who sit back and wait for something bad to happen. Neither team has an easy weekend… The Mets will play the Marlins at home, who just finished a 3 game sweep of a another playoff type team, the Cubs. The Phillies are at home against the Nationals who swept the Mets earlier this week, giving the Phillies the chance this weekend.
With the Phillies hitting, they should be able to tag the Nationals starters. If they hit like they have the last few weeks, they should be able to take at least 2 of 3. The Mets have to step it up. They have to pitch, they have been hitting too, but have been losing to teams like the Nationals 10-9. The Mets must sweep.
The NL Central is a done deal. The Cubs will win (As long as the win a game). The Brewers were playing over their heads for most of the year, they have a Manager who is a moron (and will likely be fired on Monday) and a GM who did very little to address his teams bad pitching. Sure the Brewers have a lot of good hitters and that has been carrying them thus far, but no pitching and no defense means no post season for the Brew Crew.
The NL West is interesting, but the Diamondbacks are still the team to beat. San Diego is a interesting position playing the Brewers who are also fighting to stay alive. The Diamondbacks have a little wiggle room, while San Diego has none, with the Phillies, Mets and Rockies only 1 game behind.
The Rockies have made it interesting and have been taking care of their end (They have won 11 straight). But they need help. They need the Brewers to beat up on San Diego and they need the Phillies or Mets to have a bad weekend. People in Colorado have to be thinking of that 1-9 road trip just before the All-Star Break when Brian Fuentes blew 4 consecutive saves. If they had won 2 of those games, the Rockies would be in the lead for the Wild Card. However the Rockies more than any other team hold their own destiny, because they play the Diamondback for 3 this weekend. If the Rockies sweep and San Diego stumbles, the Rockies could still win the Division. The Rockies need the Brewers to help (And having the Mets or Phillies play poorly as well). Of all the teams out there, the Rockies have to have the most things fall their way. They need to put the pressure on by winning, then hope.
The Mets look lost and the Phillies have confidence. I think the Phillies will pull the division out. The Cubs will win the Central and the west is too close to call. All 3 teams could win, but all 3 can’t tie either, thanks to Arizona and Colorado playing each other. The Wild Card is too close to call. The Phillies and Rockies are hot, the Mets and Diamondbacks not so much. The Padres looked dead earlier this week following the Bradley/Winters fiasco, but have played better. Three of the seven teams (Mets, Phillies, Cubs, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Padres and Rockies) will not be playing come Monday. I think the Brewers and Rockies magic will run out and the Mets just don’t deserve to be the post season.
As for how it plays out in the post season? Well that’s for another time. No matter who wins the National League, they do not match up well with any of the AL playoff teams.