So I gave you my list of high risers in the AL on Wednesday, but I couldn’t leave the National League. Plenty of great teams, more than capable of competing with the American League. Not I think the American League should be the favorite in the World Series, but we’ll see what happens.
It’s pretty obvious who is king of the mountain top right now, being the St. Louis Cardinals, but plenty of fire power in the NL Central, not to mention the East and West divisions. However, the Cardinals have such dominant pitching right now, that at this point, the only thing that could stop the Cardinals, is their offense. The Cards are 10th in the National League in runs scored. Every team behind St. Louis in runs scored are teams that are well under the .500 mark and not anywhere close to the top of the wild card standings. The outlier for the Red Birds, is the pitching has given up the least amount of runs in the National League, by a long shot. The next closest team to St. Louis is rival, Pittsburgh, who has given up 77 more runs than the Cardinals. That’s a massive outlier for a team that’s 22nd in the major in runs scored. Currently, the Cards have a 4.5 game lead over the Pirates, who have been on a real tear lately, but can’t seem to get over the St. Louis hump in the Central. However, Pittsburgh, pending disaster, much like the Yankees and Blue Jays in the AL, will make the postseason, and if they keep up their current run, could maybe even catch the Cards.
Winners of 12 of their last 15, the Pirates have the best combination of pitching and hitting in the majors, in my opinion. Pitt is a team that is 2nd in runs allowed, as I mentioned earlier, but is also 4th in runs scored in the NL, trailing only Arizona, Colorado and San Francisco. The Diamondbacks will not make the playoffs, as they are coming off a 4 game sweep by St. Louis, to drop their record to 62-65 and are now 11.5 games out of the final wild card spot; the Rockies are 21.5 games out of the final wild card spot and obviously, have that thin air that we’re all so used to in Salt Lake City to help carry the ball out of the ball park, so there’s that; and then there’s the Giants, the defending champions, 5.5 games out of the final wild card spot, after taking the last two in a three game series with the Chicago Cubs, the current team in the final wild card spot. So as it stands, the Pirates would have the most runs and 2nd best pitching, if the postseason started today. That’s scary for any team that has to face Pittsburgh this season. Plus, with 6 games left against St. Louis, Pittsburgh could outright take the NL Central, if the Cardinals aren’t careful. Pittsburgh trails the season series right now with the Red Birds, 7-6.
Everything aside though, there really aren’t that many other contenders. Sure, the Mets deserve some love as well. They are seemingly pulling away from the Nationals in the NL East, now up 6.5 games, and the 6 man pitching rotation seems to be working out well for the Metropolitans. Plus, with 3B David Wright back in the lineup, after missing the majority of the season to injury, and the addition of OF Yoenis Cespedes, there is some good pop to this lineup as well.
Then there’s the NL West. The Dodgers have basically led from the start of the season, with San Francisco on their heels and the way this race is shaking down, plan on the NL West only getting one team in the playoffs, with the Cubs up on the Giants by 5.5 games for the final playoff spot in the NL. San Francisco has the hitting and more than capable pitching, if they get into the postseason, but it might be a little too late for S.F. Now, is literally the time to start, and maybe the Giants have, after taking two of three games from the Cubs. Big test this weekend for San Francisco, as they host the Cardinals. The Dodgers look to possibly extend their division lead over the Giants, as L.A. hosts the aforementioned Cubs. The Dodgers have a lot of pressure on them too. A $300 million payroll and they might not make the playoffs, plus with Zach Greinke pitching out of his mind and Kershaw pitching well, as of late, but results have to come at some time, to warrant that type of payroll. Down the stretch we go!
Featured Image by: Chris Kim