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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):

Houston 3-27

Colorado 10-20

NY Mets 11-19

Philadelphia 11-19

Miami 12-18

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).

Atlanta 29-27

Pittsburgh 30-27

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.

Atlanta 50-55

Pittsburgh 50-55

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:

*Kelso Sturgeon is now 15-4 on his major releases the past few weeks. You’ve been reading about them right here on a regular basis. Hopefully you’ve been cashing in with Kelso! There’s a 100-Unit Knockout Game on tap for Saturday. Pay just $20 with your credit card for this baseball blockbuster.

*Wayne Allyn Root has not one, but TWO huge NO LIMIT games on Saturday’s card. Get them for just $25. These are the games that are fresh off runs of 6 out of 7 and 13 out of 18. There’s no limit to what you can win with The King of Las Vegas!

*Jim Hurley has won 10 of his last 12 “Game of the Week” releases. Saturday’s Baseball Game of the Week is up right now for just $20. You also get two BONUS plays from his Hit And Run Club…a service that’s 26-11 since mid-July.  

*Tony Salinas only posts the games he’s betting the biggest himself in Las Vegas. Today that means FOUR, that’s right FOUR high roller gems in a Saturday Grand Slam. Pay just $20 for this big profit report.

Be sure you visit the home page of VSM every day for big play announcements. Added details are always available on the “Buy Picks” pulldown page. Daily visits will become even more important with the start of football! The Hall of Fame game kicks off the 2012 NFL Preseason Sunday with New Orleans facing Arizona. That means we’ll be seeing YOU right here tomorrow!

At VegasSportsMasters, hot handicappers are always waiting to hear from you!

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