National League East:
The Washington Nationals have taken over first place in the National League East that was controlled for most of the first half of the season by the Atlanta Braves. Washington has a solid starting rotation with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark, and Doug Fister.
The lineup can be inconsistent, but has the potential to be very good. Atlanta has dealt with plenty of injuries even before the season started losing Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen. They have suffered more injuries throughout the course of the season, but have managed to stay in the division picture as they are only 3 1/2 games back of the Nats. Miami is the other team in the East that has a chance as they are seven games back, but likely will not make much noise in the final weeks of the season. The Marlins lost their ace Jose Fernandez early in the season as he underwent Tommy John Surgery. The Mets and Phillies are at the bottom of the division and are too far out of the NL East race.
Prediction: Washington Nationals win National League East
National League Central:
The National League Central may end up being the wildest of all playoff races. The NL Central features four teams all within 4 1/2 games of the division lead. The Milwaukee Brewers are currently in the lead for the division. Milwaukee got off to a hot start early season and remains the front runner in the Central but they are barely hanging on to their lead.
The St. Louis Cardinals went out and made some moves at the deadline hoping to erase their one game deficit and gain control on the division. St. Louis acquired both Justin Masterson and John Lackey to help their starting rotation, which is led by Cy Young candidate Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals offense has struggled, but is a veteran club that has the pieces to make another serious run at the World Series.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are just 1 1/2 games back of Milwaukee and are led by reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen. Pittsburgh is looking for its second straight playoff berth under manager Clint Hurdle. The Pirates are a young and talented club that could make some noise heading into October.
Cincinnati is a team that has dealt with the biggest injuries in all of baseball. Joey Votto is currently on the disabled list and has been for quite some time. Jay Bruce, Aaroldis Chapman, and Mat Latos all spent time on the DL as well. Luckily Johnny Cueto has been a beast at the front of the rotation, and the Reds have got great play this season from third baseman Todd Frazier. Cincinnati is just 4 1/2 games back and if they can stay in the race and get some players healthy they could be a scary team in the final days of the season. The Chicago Cubs are in last place in the division and it is pretty safe to say that the World Series curse will not be broken this year.
Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals win National League Central
National League West:
The National League West race is between two teams that could both end up making the postseason. San Francisco was the best team in baseball at one point in the season, but fell off a bit in the past few months.
That left the door open for the Dodgers to take over the lead in the West. The Dodgers, who are viewed as World Series favorites, have been led by two-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has been lights out nearly every time he has taken the mound this season. The Dodgers have the offense and starting rotation to keep control in the West and make a World Series run this season.
San Francisco needs to continue to get back to where they were at the beginning of the season if they are thinking about taking over the division lead. San Diego, Arizona, and Colorado are all seemingly out of the division and any playoff contention at this point.
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers win National League West
Wild Card Prediction: Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants win NL Wild Card
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