Arizona Diamondbacks - 86-67; .5 game lead in NL West
3 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
3 at Pittsburgh Pirates
3 at Colorado Rockies
The upcoming series against the Dodgers had looked as though it might be the most important of the season for the Diamondbacks until the Dodgers dropped five straight games here in September. Grady Little may nevertheless have his ballclub convinced that a series sweep of the Diamondbacks could put the Dodgers back in contention. That will be a difficult task, as neither pitcher who won games for LA against the D-Backs last weekend, Brad Penny and Derek Lowe, will pitch in this upcoming best-of-three.
The Pirates have done one worse than the Dodgers and lost six straight games going into play on Friday. They are only 5 games under .500 at PNC Park, however. Ian Snell, Matt Morris, and Paul Maholm are slated to go against Micah Owings, Doug Davis, and Livan Hernandez in a matchup of two of the league's worst offenses. The Bucs could easily take two out of three if the Diamondbacks overlook this opponent sandwiched between two division rivals on their schedule.
It's a surprise to many that the Colorado Rockies are nine games over .500 and five games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West. They have won five straight games, four of which came at the Dodgers' expense, and need to gain just two games on the Diamondbacks before this final series to have a chance at wresting the division title away from the Snakes. The Rockies boast an intimidating murderers row, as well as a stunningly deep starting rotation that averages just 27 years of age, even with the 36-year old Elmer Dessens serving as stopgap replacement for team ace Aaron Cook.
Notable Stat: Chris Snyder has hit .396 in 53 career at bats in Coors Field
Prediction: 4-5 record, backing their way into winning the NL Wild Card
San Diego Padres - 85-67; .5 games back in the NL West; 2 game lead for the Wild Card
3 vs. Colorado Rockies
3 at San Francisco Giants
4 at Milwaukee Brewers
The Friars have won seven games in a row to keep pace with the Diamondbacks and keep the other Wild Card contenders at arm's length. They have done so primarily with pitching and defense, as they have allowed an average of two runs per game during this stretch. While pitching and defense are generally a good recipe for postseason success, they will need to score some runs to keep pace with Matt Holliday and the Colorado Rockies' offense.
The Giants should be a cakewalk. San Francisco has gone 3-12 versus the Padres this year, and Barry Bonds is unlikely to play much in the series, as he is still nursing a sprained toe. If San Diego does not take care of business and sweep San Francisco, they do not deserve to play in the postseason.
What could ultimately be the Padres' undoing is their final 4-game series in Milwaukee. The Brewers are 47-27 at home, and will likely be fighting for a playoff spot of their own in the NL Central. The Padres did sweep the Brewers in a three-game series at Petco Park earlier, but for some reason this is a different Brewers team when their in the land of beer and cheese.
Notable Stat: Adrian Gonzalez leads Padres regulars in the following statistics: BA, SLG, OPS, H, R, HR, & RBI. He is also tied for the team lead in doubles with 42.
Prediction: 6-4, good enough for 91 wins and the NL West Title
Colorado Rockies - 81-72; 5 games back in the NL West; 4.5 back in the Wild Card
3 at San Diego Padres
3 at Los Angeles Dodgers
3 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
In addition to the aforementioned matchups against the Padres and the Diamondbacks, the Rockies get one more crack at the Dodgers sandwiched inbetween. This time the battle takes place at Dodger Stadium, however, where the Dodgers are seven games over .500. Colorado is just 33-42 away from Coors Field.
Notable Stat: The Rockies have scored over 100 more runs than any other NL West team.
Prediction: 5-4, missing the postseason, but looking like a team to reckon with in '08
New York Mets - 84-68; 1.5 game lead in the NL East
4 at Florida Marlins
3 vs. Washington Nationals
1 vs. St. Louis Cardinals
3 vs. Florida Marlins
Yes, we do need to look at the Mets, because they would be the favorites to win the Wild Card if the Phillies somehow charged past them. Unfortunately for The City of Brotherly Love, this doesn't appear likely with the Metropolitans' home-heavy schedule against some of the worst teams in baseball. To further solidify things, the Mets have Pedro Martinez back, and he is pitching a lot better than scouts who saw his rehab starts led us to believe.
Notable Stat: The Mets have 59 more stolen bases than the runner up Angels, and Jose Reyes alone has swiped more bags than a dozen major league teams
Prediction: 8-3, winning them home field advantage until the World Series
Philadelphia Phillies - 83-70; 1.5 games back in the NL East; 2 games back in the NL Wild Card
3 at Washington Nationals
3 vs. Atlanta Braves
3 vs. Washington Nationals
Philadelphia's schedule is almost as easy as New York's, which could mean the Wild Card may not emerge from the NL West after all. They have been among the hottest teams in all of baseball, as their 17-8 record over their last 25 games shows. Their pitching staff is just an absolute mess, however, and it's hard to believe that they can just slug their way to the postseason. Philadelphia's 4.83 ERA ranks 26th out of the 30 teams, and no other major league team ranked in the bottom 14 in ERA is currently contending for the postseason. As hot as they are and as weak as their schedule is, the Phillies still have too many games to make up and not enough quality arms to get it done.
Notable Stat: The Phillies have had 15 different pitchers throw at least nine games for them while posting an ERA over 5.00 this year
Prediction: 6-3, close but no cigar
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