Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 12:28 PM
What’s becoming clear in recent days in National League action is that there are several teams who may limp home over the last two months. And, if THAT’S the case, then all of the teams fighting for playoff spots will have relatively easy paths to reach 90 wins. Is it going to take 95 wins just to eke into the playoffs this year in the senior circuit?
First, here’s a list of struggling NL teams using records over the last 30 games (from the great Baseball-reference website):
NY Mets 11-19
That’s almost a third of the league right there. Milwaukee may be joining the list soon after going 8-12 their last 20. Who knows if the Chicago Cubs can keep their recent level of decent play going given their recent trades? They just sent the staff ace to Texas! An injury here…some clubhouse arguments there…and we may have HALF the league just going through the motions in the final quarter of the 2012 campaign.
Right now Atlanta and Pittsburgh are in the driver’s seat for a Wildcard. St. Louis and the eventual runner-up in the NL West are in striking distance. Let’s see what those teams have to do to finish with 90 wins (normally good enough to reach the postseason).
LA Dodgers 33-22
St. Louis 33-23
That’s barely over .500 the rest of the way for Atlanta and Pittsburgh, who should be able to coast to records that good given their remaining schedules. The Dodgers and Cards have to pick up the pace a bit. But, those records are certainly manageable given the number of low-intensity teams in the NL right now. Hitting 90 wins for Atlanta and Pittsburgh won’t be good enough if the Dodgers and Cards can make it to 92! Obviously 95 wins is a much safer number.
Here are the average records of remaining opponents for those four Wildcard contenders according to Baseball-reference.
St. Louis 52-53
LA Dodgers 52-53
Wow…Atlanta and Pittsburgh should have no trouble getting to 90 wins against those schedules. Maybe Pittsburgh chokes because of inexperience. But, in terms of just going out and doing your job every day…you’d have to think at least 93-95 wins is a best-case scenario for both the Braves and Pirates. Earning a Wildcard could easily take 95 wins…which is something St. Louis and the LA Dodgers need to be thinking about right now.
The NL schedule this weekend mostly consists of contenders playing non-contenders. Pittsburgh-Cincinnati is the one playoff style series. Handicapping from this point forward in the senior circuit is likely to involve recognizing which teams have been energized by playing in a pennant race, and which teams are afraid of blowing their chance. That can be tricky if you’re used to focusing on the nuts and bolts of stats and trends!
Luckily, the VSM experts are here to help. Let’s look at Saturday’s highlights:
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