Posted on: September 4, 2010 7:20 pm

MLB National League Scheduling for September

On September 1st we took an in depth look at MLB American League scheduling as it is one component of many that will impact the post season.  Today we have the opportunity to take a look at the National League where teams have 23-26 games remaining.  One thing we know right from the start is that the wildcard will come down to the last week and there will be as many as 3 teams fighting for that one spot the last week of the season.  Those teams will be a focal point in the Division analysis below.

National League East Division

At this time the Atlanta Braves have a one game lead on the Phillies as the Braves have lost 3 straight games.  Atlanta has a fairly easy schedule in September but must hope that St. Louis is out of the NL Central race when the Braves play 3 games against them next week.  Usually having 6 games remaining with the Washington Nationals in September would be a Godsend for a team in the mix of a divisional and wild card race.  But the Nationals have been playing some pretty impressive ball lately and by no means are they a pushover.  The 3 games with the Mets are no gimme as the Braves just played the Mets last week and had the misfortune of facing a brilliant Johan Santana until he was pulled in the 6th inning with an injury that may keep him from pitching a few weeks.  The Braves need to get lucky that they do not have to face Santana again.  The Braves also have 5 games with the Marlins including today and the Marlins are playing good ball.  It might come down to 3 games at Philadelphia in Mid-September.

The Phillies have home and away 3 game series with the Marlins, Mets and Nationals which is 3/4th of their remaining schedule with the 3 games left with the Braves.  Undoubtedly Major league baseball saw the Phillies as the team to beat in the NL East and thus scheduled all of those games against their Eastern Division opponents hoping there was going to be a race.  Well, MLB has got the race they wanted.  But with the scheduling that is remaining for both the Braves and the Phillies the bigger question is going to be what part of rotations are each team catching when they play.  The Braves a couple of days ago had the Marlins and obviously did not want to see Josh Johnson on the mound. 

The scheduling hurts the Braves as their strength has been pitching and that 4 headed monster at the top of its line-up.  The Phillies have all of their big bats back for the stretch run.  But the Braves have been hit big time by the injury bug and that combined with a less than favorable schedule makes that current one game lead a non-issue

Edge:  Phillies; Braves fighting for wildcard with either the Padres or Rockies from the National League West.

NL Central Division

Two weeks ago it looked like the St. Louis Cardinals would walk away with the division as they swept the Cincinnati Reds and the Cardinals next 9 games were against weak opponents.  But the Cardinals have proven this year that winning the big ones mean nothing when you can't win games where a this team is a prohibitive favorite.  This year the Reds are showing their strength against the teams they are supposed to beat.  The Reds are 6-12 against the Cardinals in their heads up matchup.  But the Reds are 27-10 against the rest of the Division.  While the Reds obliterated the weak teams in the division, The Cardinals are 19-23 against the rest of the Division.  The edge in September's schedule also goes to the Reds as they play the majority games against weak NL Central Division opponents while the Cardinals have to play NL West opponents that are battling for a Division title or wild card berth.
Edge:  The Reds easily as the Cardinals need to do what the Minnesota Twins did last year in the American League Central and the Reds need to completely fall apart like last years Detroit Tigers.  With the scheduling this is never going to happen

National League West

Ten days ago the Padres had the best record in the National League and were cruising to a Division championship until a seven game losing streak has made this the Division to watch.  A fool would count out Colorado given last year's Division run to the post season.  Colorado may be 6-7 games back but plays all of their remaining games against NL West opponents except for 4 games against the Reds.  Colorado is playing good ball.  San Diego is sitting 3 games up but has a brutal September schedule.  They have 4 games left with both the Giants and Rockies.  Then to make things even worse, they have 3 games left against both Cincinnati and St. Louis.  There saving grace may be that there season ends with 4 games against the Cubs who most likely will be looking at minor league players that have been called up for evaluation against major league opponents.  For the Cubs this is extremely useful prior to making out the Spring Training invitee list for next year.  The Giants have the easiest schedule of their foes in the Division.  They have 3 games series with the Padres and Rockies remaining.  But throw that in with 5 games against the Dodgers, 6 games with Arizona, 3 with the Cubs and 3 games with the Brewers, the Giants have the most favorable schedule.

Edge:  The Giants by 2 games; Padres, and Rockies fighting with the Braves for the wild card.  In a rarity, I am calling a 163rd game between the Braves and the 2nd place finisher in the NL West
Posted on: September 1, 2010 7:22 pm

MLB September Schedule Analysis

Major League Baseball expressed intent last year was to schedule Divisional games in September to bring additional excitement back to Baseball in order to compete with the start of NFL and college football.  This year it would appear that MLB has suceeded in having some races coming down to the final week of the season.

Today we take a quick peek at the impact of schedules in the American League. The American League has 3 of the 4 teams that appear to have solidified there standing for post season action.  In the Eastern Division, the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees are in a fight during September for the Division title with the other team set to be a wildcard.  An analysis of each teams schedule would give the Rays the edge in having the easier schedule.  The teams still have seven games to play against each other and both have several games against the Orioles.  But the edge goes to the Rays who play a home and away series with Baltimore (6 games) and 3 home games each with Seattle and the Angels.  There make-up game if necessary is a prior rainout at Kansas City.  While both teams have similar Divisional games, the Yankees have 3 games at Western Division leader Texas Rangers and 7 games with the ever difficult Toronto Blue Jays.  Anyone that has seen the Red Sox play lately would most likely hear their fans focused on next year as injuries decimated Boston's year resulting in an impossible task of keeping pace with the Yankees and Rays.  ironically they would be in a race to the Division title in the West and Central Divisions that are the weakest by far. While the Yankees and Rays are duking it out for the Division title, September is the time when teams want to take a look at minor league players or rest players for the post season.  We have heard fans scream about the lack of fundamental fairness that benefit teams and in the East it would not be unusual to see the Orioles, Blue Jays and Red Sox give substantial playing time to players in their minor league system as an assessment leading into 2011.  Tampa Bay wins the Division by 1 game.

Now taking the path of least resistance lets take a look at the American League West.  Right now the Texas Rangers are the only team with a winning record. It is more likely that there will be an earthquake in Texas than the A's catching them from 9 games down.  The A's start the month with 2 games with the Yankees.  The A's do have 4 games at the end of the month with the Rangers but by that time the division will most likely be clinched.  However lets assume a miracle occurs.  In order for the A's to get close they are going to have to win or sweep every series which includes 3 games each against the Twins and White Sox.  They also have 6 games against the Angels and 3 games against the Red Sox where they will need to be a combined 7-2, 8-1 or 9-0 to even close the gap on the Rangers unless the Rangers go bust and lose 7 or 8 games in a row.  It is more likely that the A's were to go on that losing streak.  Does anyone see the A's being similar to the almost unbeatable Twins team that caught the Tigers last year? Rangers win the Division by 7 and 1/2 games. 

The American League Central Division 3 weeks ago looked like a Twins lock until the White Sox made a run and caught them.  Subsequent to that White Sox winning streak they proceeded to go on a losing streak.  Will Manny bring magic to the Windy City?  The Central Division has been a Division that comes down to the last week of the season one way or another.  The teams only play each other 3 times in September as MLB must have seen Detroit in the title picture looking at the schedule.  Both the White Sox and Twins have middle of the road schedules as they both play some very weak teams and at times it will depend on what part of the rotation the twins and White Sox will face when playing against the Tigers and Royals.  Yes, those same Royals with 2 starters coming off the disabled list that have a reason to prove they still have their game with wins against these quality teams. If the Twins had Justin Morneau this might be easier to call but they did not have him the last month last year either.  Ron Gardenhire is an elite manager that knows how to get the best out of his players.  It would be nice to have Morneau back.  However, but post concussion sydrome is another way of saying closed head injury with neurological impairment or symptoms.  What we do know is with a major impact to skull (a knee while sliding into 2nd base) which moves or impacts the brain in a manner where there is neurological abnormalities and in many instances career ending in numerous professions.  The Twins have been silent regarding Morneau's prognosis as the day after the injury he seemed fine.  Twins win the Division by 2 games.
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