It is September and the MLB is almost set for postseason baseball.
As the final quarter of the season dwindles down, some teams are easier picks than others for playoff baseball. Here are the predictions for the National League division winners and wild cards.
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National League East :Atlanta Braves
The toughest call of all postseason potentials, but the Braves clinch the division in 2022. But the strength of schedule (SOS) is harder for Atlanta than the New York Mets . The Braves look more poised heading into September as both teams are tied in the division before Wednesday’s contests.
Albeit a rocky start to the month of August, Atlanta lost four of five to the Mets, but took three of four later in the month. The emergence of Spencer Strider certainly helped Atlanta push up in the standings. In his last seven starts he is 5-1 with a 2.07 ERA that includes a 16-strikeout gem against Colorado. This game set the Atlanta record for most strikeouts in a game for a Braves pitcher.
Vaughn Grissom and Michael Harris II are making an immediate impact on the offense as well. These two usually bat in the bottom of the order while hitting over .300 respectively.
In the end this division race comes down to the last series these teams face each other in late September, early October.
It is a gut call. Atlanta owns more experience in this position, and in 2021 played a strong second half that propelled the team into the postseason. While it may not result in a World Series this time around, it can make for another division crown.
National League Central: St. Louis Cardinals
Thanks in part to the disastrous August the Milwaukee Brewers had, the Cards hold a commanding lead in the Central.
St Louis. also played incredible throughout August and into September with a remarkable 25-7 record. Paul Goldschmidt is pushing for the NL MVP with an average in the .330 range. He also drove in over 100 runs and hit over 30 homers.
Strength of schedule heavily favors the Red Birds as it sits at .448 while Milwaukee owns a SOS of .490. It appears St. Louis should take the division easily given the large lead already.
National League West: Los Angeles Dodgers
Year in and year out the Dodgers remain one of the best teams in the league. This year is no exception.
With the addition of Freddie Freeman, the lineup is more scary than it ever was. The pitching staff surpassed last year thanks to Tyler Anderson and Tony Gonsolin as both posted Cy-Young worthy years.
A division lead that pushes 20 games, and a SOS of .495 makes the NL West crown the surest bet in the National League.
National League WC: New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres
As predicted with the Braves winning the division, the Mets take the first Wild Card. It will be a close race, but the Mets don’t look as sharp as it was in the beginning of the season, and Atlanta tied the division on Tuesday.
Philadelphia faces a relatively weak schedule with a SOS of .485. The Phillies are in striking distance for the second spot, and could topple the Padres. Simply, the SOS heavily favors Philly.
The Padres get the last spot, and it is not doubting the young players it owns, but the remaining teams are incredible. It is simply just running into the tough part of the schedule at the wrong time for San Diego. Six games against the Dodgers, three against the Cardinals and three against the Seattle Mariners. This leaves a SOS of .542 for the Friars and the fourth-hardest remaining schedule.