Monday, September 14, 2009

MLB: How Much Is Left To Be Decided?

The road to the World Series goes through New Yankee Stadium and St. Louis.
Three weeks from today, the season will be over and the playoff field set. For the casual observer, it looks like the American League is set and the National League rests on the National League West where the Dodgers are three games up on the Colorado Rockies whose push got slightly slowed up losing their last two games.

The Wild Card races show Boston having a four game lead over Texas. In the National League, Colorado leads San Francisco by 4 ½, Florida by 5 ½ and the Braves by 6 ½ games. At first blush, these don’t look like nail biters.

Boston still has to play the California Angels, their likely playoff match at home this week then play the Yankees the next to last weekend of the season. The Rangers play the Angels both at home and away. Realistically, this makes the task tough on Texas unless they get incredibly red hot where if they were to sweep the Angels, something better than the Wild Card could be in store for them.

The National League contest between the Dodgers and the Rockies could come down to the last weekend of the season when the Rockies come to Dodger town to decide it all. In the meantime, the Dodgers entertain the Giants next weekend, but face Pittsburgh this week. They have an east coast road trip. That’s the bad news. The good news is they face the Nationals and the Pirates then come west to face the Padres, a run of three series against three last place teams. Joe Torre has to like that! Meanwhile, Colorado visits the San Francisco Giants, a team they must put away, starting tonight. They’ll go out to the desert to face Arizona before coming home to play San Diego, St. Louis, a possible playoff match up, and Milwaukee. The remainder of the schedule coupled with a three game lead would favor the Dodgers.

Are there other possibilities?

Consider this, the Detroit Tigers are the only team in their division with a winning record 5 ½ games up on the Minnesota Twins with the White Sox lurking just another game behind. Before we close the book on the AL Central, the Tigers play both Minnesota and Chicago at home and away with the Twins coming to Motor City as the next to last series and Chicago finishing the year in Motown. While that would look to open things up, Minnesota and Chicago could eliminate each other when they play a three game series in Chicago next week.

Are the Philadelphia Phillies safe? They play the Florida Marlins 6 ½ games back first in Miami before finishing with a three game set in Philadelphia the last weekend. Given the way the Phillies bullpen has collapsed and Florida’s ability to go on hot streaks, they can’t print their postseason tickets yet, but Florida’s next opponent is St. Louis in St. Louis.

The view in the crystal ball says the Yankees will host the Tigers and the Angels will host the Red Sox in the American League. The Cardinals will host the Rockies while it’s too close to call who will be the host but the Phillies and Dodgers, a game apart in the los column advantage Dodgers, will play in the other bracket.

While the Yankees look strong in the American League, the one team that has their number is the Angels who have a 4-2 edge over the Bronx bombers who host the Angels in a make up game tonight and will travel to Anaheim on September 21st for a three game series. In what looks like another playoff matchup, the Angels begin three games against Boston in Fenway Park tomorrow night.

A Yankees/St. Louis World Series is looking more likely with each passing week.

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