And Down the Stretch They Come…

By Blaidd Drwg

I am writing this a couple days in advance, so hopefully I remember to go back and update it.

With about a month to go in the season, the playoff picture is starting to take shape.

In the NL, we have all but decided who is going to be in the playoffs:

  • The Braves have a 13 game lead on the Nats in the NL East
  • The Dodgers have an 8.5 game lead on the Diamondbacks in the NL West
  • The Pirates/Reds/Cardinals (all three teams have virtually identical records) have at least a 15.5 game lead on the Brewers in the NL Central.
  • The Pirates/Reds/Cardinals have at least a 5 game lead over Arizona for the 2nd NL Wild Card

Really the only thing left to figure out is who ends up relegated to the Wild Card game. Heck, according to ESPN.com, the only NL team with at least a 6% chance of making the playoffs other than the Pirates/Reds/Cardinals/Braves/Dodgers is the Diamondbacks at 18%. Interestingly the only other team with more than a 1% chance of making the playoffs is the Nationals at 5.8%.

At least there is a bit more drama in the AL. There are 5 teams that have a real shot at the Wild Card spots – The A’s/Rangers (whoever does not win the AL West), Red Sox/Rays (whoever does not win the AL East), Indians, Orioles and Yankees. Each one of those teams is at least within 3.5 games of the 2nd Wild Card spot. The Royals were making it interesting, but have faded after losing 7 strait and will have to wait until next year.

On the flip side, I wanted to congratulate Houston on officially being the first team completely eliminated from playoff contention (assuming they lose Wednesday night). In the era of 2 Wild Card spots, to be eliminated before the end of August is something of an accomplishment. I guess it isn’t hard when you have won 33% of your games, have the worst run differential in baseball (by a bunch), have given up the most runs in baseball (quick, name any Astros starting pitcher – I bet you can’t) and have the worst home record in the game.

As for the Mariners – they are on pace to win 73 games (remember when people were picking them to be a wild card team?) I know that Coltrane disagrees with me, but I think that Z gets fired if they don’t win at least 77 games. For those who were overly optimistic about the M’s during spring training, I want to revisit something that I posted earlier this year:

… I would project that the Mariners will probably put up about 4.25 runs a game this season, accounting for the “improved” lineup and the fences moving in. That would be about 688 runs for the season, which means that they would have been 12th in the AL last season instead of last. That might mean that this is a 77 win team instead of a 75 win team.

The Mariners are currently on pace to score 636 runs (3.92 runs a game) which means that my prediction of 4.25 was optimistic. I did peg them as a 75-77 win team, which, barring a big run at the end of the season, is going to be just about where they end up. Now repeat after me: “I will listen to Blaidd Drwg when it comes to the Mariners…”

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