Last week we took a brief look at each American League Division. It’s time now to see who is making their playoff push and who is falling out of the pennant race in the National League.
National League East
Overall, the National League East has been a weak division this year. Atlanta started hot but has a losing record since the beginning of May. Meanwhile, the Washington Nationals are 15 games over .500 over the same time frame. Entering play Friday, the Nationals have a six game lead over the Braves and it doesn’t look like they will give that lead up. The Nats are finding ways to win games late and Anthony Rendon looks like the real star of this team.
The Braves are competing for a Wild Card spot at this point but the rest of the division, minus Philadelphia, is in rebuilding mode. Atlanta’s final home stand ends with four games against the Pirates, which could have a huge impact on the NL Wild Card race.
National League Central
The central division is home of the closest race in the league with Brewers 1.5 games in front of the Cardinals and four games ahead of the Pirates. The Brewers started the season red hot and have been able to hold off everyone else in the division. However, St. Louis has narrowed the gap this month by a couple games despite giving up more runs than they have scored in August. This race could come down to the health of a couple of stars. Yadier Molina is working his way back from a thumb injury while Ryan Braun of the brewers is battling a thumb injury of his own.
The Cardinals are about to start a stretch of 30 games in 31 days that includes eight day games after night games. They also have eight games head to head against the Brewers so this race is far from over. The Pirates slipped up recently but are in the thick of the Wild Card race at just two games behind the leader. That four game set in Atlanta, who is half a game ahead of Pittsburgh, could make or break the Pirates. Cincinnati played themselves out of contention this month by winning only 10 of 25 games. The Cubs are still the loveable losers but they are getting their top prospect some valuable playing time down the stretch. An exciting race is on deck for the two Central frontrunners
National League West
The West is not very wild this season. The Dodgers and Giants are the only teams with a chance to make the postseason but the Giants have given ground in the month of August. The Dodgers currently lead the Giants by 4.5 games after San Francisco has played .500 ball in August. The teams play each other six times in September and the Giants have to win those series to claim a division title this year.
There is not much to say about the Padres, Diamondbacks and Rockies. They are bad teams than can only play the role of spoilers down the stretch. Expect LA and San Francisco to take advantage of these guys in the final month.
NL East Champion: Washington Nationals
NL Central Champion: St. Louis Cardinals
NL West Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild Card (1): San Francisco Giants
NL Wild Card (2): Atlanta Braves
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*Featured image credit: Evan Vucci, AP