Thursday, September 17, 2009

NL Wild Card Living Up To Its Name

With a little over two weeks left to go in the regular season, most division races are pretty much wrapped up. Sure, some teams can make are certainly capable of making a late push. However, here on September 17th, history will be working against cities hoping for some kind of Cinderella story.

With the Texas Rangers faultering in the Wild Card, it appears that everything in the American League is set. In addition, the closest division race in the National League is now the Los Angeles Dodgers's five game lead over the Colorado Rockies in the National League West.

At this point, it is time to turn to the National League Wild Card for a glimpse at the last great race before the postseason. Three teams are currently within five games of the leading Rockies: the San Francisco Giants (3.5 GB), the Florida Marlins (4.5 GM), and the Atlanta Braves (5.0 GB).

A 4-3 win by the Rockies last night marked the last time that they will see the Giants in the regular season.

The remainder of Colorado's schedule is filled with both highs and lows. While they will be playing a few sub-500 teams over the next two and a half weeks (Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers), they will welcome the Central Division leading St. Louis Cardinals into Coors Field next weekend, and will be visiting the Dodgers for the last series of the season (a game which could have more at stake than just solidifying the Wild Card).

The Giants schedule appears to be smooth sailing ahead once this weekend's series with bitter rival Los Angeles is over. The only challenge after this weekend would appear to be the four game series with the underachieving Chicago Cubs next weekend.

Out on the East Coast, the Marlins and Braves are still in it to win it.

The Braves have simply not been able to get over the hump all season long. Starters such as Jair Jurrjens and Derek Lowe are going to need to lead the way to make up for what has seemed like a bland offense all year if they have any hope at five games behind.

The Marlins are always a dangerous team. Amazingly, they somehow seem to stay competitive every year, despite having such a putrid payroll. The lineup is filled with a long list of young studs, starting with National League batting leader Hanley Ramirez.

In addition, every starter is capable of pitching an absolute gem on any given day.

While the Marlins are a long shot, they are still a very scary team which Colorado and San Francisco cannot fall asleep on.

The Braves and Marlins actually play each other one more time this season in Atlanta. However, that will not matter if Colorado stays on its current pace.

While the Rockies have shown a tendency to be streaky all year long, still look for them to claim the Wild Card spot for themselves, as they did back in 2007.

If hurlers Jason Marquis and Umbaldo Jimenez can keep the rotation afloat and give the offense a chance to win every night, then Colorado has shown that it can compete with just about anyone in the National League.

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