MLB Stretch Run Preview

With the MLB playoffs expanding to 5 teams per league, the last 2 weeks of the season are going to be filled with excitement.  We are going to take a look at the teams who are in the hunt and what they need to do to get in.

Already In: S.F. Giants (N.L. West Champs), Cincinnati Reds (N.L. Central Champs), Washington Nationals (Clinched Playoff Berth)

National League

The Washington Nationals have the best record in baseball (93-60), but they have not clinched their division from the Braves yet.  They are now 5 games up with 9 games left to play with 6 games are up against the Phillies and they have 3 against the wild card chasing Cardinals.  Davey Johnson has already said that when they clinch the division they will rest their starters for the postseason.  Look for the Nationals to clinch before the weekend and to have their rotation ready for October.

Unless the wheels fall off and they don’t make it in, the Atlanta Braves might be the biggest victim of the new wild card one game format.  The Braves are most likely going to have a top 5 record, but they will have to host a dangerous Cardinals and Brewers team in a one game playoff to face the Nationals or the Reds.

The St. Louis Cardinals are sitting in the last wild card spot now and have a great schedule ahead of them to get in.  They get the Astros for 3 and then get to close against the sure to be clinched Nationals and already clinched Reds.  Both will be resting starters and it should give the Cards a good run.

The L.A. Dodgers and the Milwaukee Brewers are both 3 games behind the Cards for the last wild card spot.  The Brewers have the easiest road of the 2 teams, but there may not be enough time to catch the Cards.

My predictions with 10 games left is #1 Washington, #2 Cincinnati, #3 San Fran, WC Braves vs. Cardinals.

American League

No American League team have clinched a playoff yet so all 5 spots are up for grabs.

The New York Yankees are sitting 1 game up on the Orioles with 10 games left and have the easiest run of the remaining teams.  With the Twins, Blue Jays and Red Sox on the schedule, the Yankees would have to fold to not make it in.  The biggest question is will they be able to hold off the Orioles for the A.L. East.

The Baltimore Orioles are very close to getting lock into the playoffs.  The big question for them is their closing series against the Rays.  If they are still in the hunt for the A.L. East, they will still need to play to get out of the wild card.  The best thing that can happen to them or the Yankees is to clinch the division quick so the other team can ride into the wild card with rest.

The Texas Rangers have a 4 game lead on the Oakland A’s, but the A’s will be in control of their own destiny with 7 of their last 10 against the Rangers.  The team that could benefit if these 2 go to battle is the L.A. Angels.  If the Rangers can beat up on the A’s, the Angels can sneak past them in the wild card standings.

The battle to watch is the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers in the A.L. Central.  It’s going to be the playoffs for one and golf for the other.  Neither team is going to be able to sneak into the wild card unless someone really falls.  The Sox have the easier road to the playoffs with 6 games against Cleveland so I give them a slight edge, but with the talent that the Tigers have on their roster I would not be surprised if they win.

My predictions with 10 games left. #1 Texas, #2 New York Yankees, #3 Detroit Tigers, Orioles vs. A’s

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