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Hunt for October: NL Central 

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As we wind down the 2013 MLB regular season, there is just one three team race worth watching in the NL. Barring a major collapse all three of these teams will make the postseason but only one will be securely in the divisional round. With only eight games remaining and three teams within two games of the NL Central lead, we are in for a fun finish.

NL Central Standings:

St. Louis Cardinals 90-64

Cincinnati Reds 88-66

Pittsburgh Pirates 88-66

Remaining Schedules:


2 @ Milwaukee

3 vs Washington

3 vs the Cubs


2 @ Pittsburgh

3 vs the Mets

3 vs Pittsburgh


2 vs Cincinnati

3 @ the Cubs

3 @ Cincinnati

How they will finish:

1. Cardinals

I know I’m going out on a limb here, but that schedule paired with the two game lead is just too much for one of the next two teams to overcome, especially since they will be battling each other for home field in that play-in, wild card, game. That should pit the Cardinals against the Dodgers in the NLDS while the winner of the wild card game will be faced with the Atlanta Braves.

2. Cincinnati Reds

3. Pittsburgh Pirates

If the Pirates want to secure home field in the one game wild card round they are going to need to take these next two at home against the Reds. If they split these two then they will have to have a better record in their three game series in Chicago than the Reds do at home for the Mets before they meet for the final three games in Cincy. The Reds clearly have the upper hand here, but if one of these teams gets ahead of themselves, trying to win the division, they might lose all momentum and home field advantage.

Obviously the most fun scenario would be for the Pirates to somehow win the division, but I don’t see it happening. They just don’t have enough talent. They would need something flukey to happen over the final eight games. Their best bet is to focus on hosting that wild card game against the Reds. Not that there is necessarily a different strategy involved, because with eight games left the only strategy is to win. But their manager needs to get his team focused on home field, nothing more.

With all the home games left, the Reds may have a chance at unseating the Cardinals, though it is unlikely since they have five more battles with the hungry Pirates remaining. The division is the Cardinals to lose, but regardless the NL Central has proven to be the best division in baseball this year, somehow. And all three of these teams have earned their spot in the playoffs.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

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