The first full week in September and the Wild Card race keeps getting hotter. Historically the last month of play is packed with mainly divisional match ups and these last few series can make or break a playoff berth.
Without a doubt, the National League series to keep an eye on starting Monday is the St. Louis Cardinals vs the Pittsburgh Pirates. Right now that Cardinals are the 2nd Wild Card team 1.5 games behind the number 1 seed San Francisco Giants. The Pirates are sitting 3.5 games back in the action and need to win this series to stay in the hunt.
No one matchup is better than another. All are important to both teams. This series could single handedly shut the Pirates out of the playoffs and push the Cardinals out of the number 2 spot, which is what the New York Mets are hoping for.
The Mets are playing the the last place team in the NL Central the Cincinnati Reds. They could not be playing this team at a better team since the likelihood of them winning the series is high. The Mets all but out of contention for the division sitting 8 games back of the Washington Nationals, so the Wild Card is there only hope to make another run for the pennant.
Meanwhile in the American League:
The battle is still raging in the East. The top 2 Wild Card seeds are still in this division. The Boston Red Sox are hot on the tail of the Toronto Blue Jays and +1.5 games in the Wild Card. The Baltimore Orioles are only 1 game back of the Red Sox. This week the Blue Jays play the New York Yankees, the Red Sox are out west playing the San Diego Padres, and the Orioles are playing the Tampa Bay Rays. For the rest of the season, every game these teams play will be of note.
The Detroit Tigers are only .5 back of the Orioles and are playing division rival Chicago White Sox. At the beginning of the season the White Sox were dominating the Central, but have since put themselves out of contention. What the Tigers may lack in pitching has been more than made up for in their red hot bats and will no doubt dominate the battered White Sox. The Houston Astros, that are 2.5 games back, do not it as easy as the Orioles or the Tigers; they are faced with playing the Central division Cleveland Indians. Tuesday’s game will be particularly difficult because the Astros will face ace Corey Kluber, one of the elite pitchers with 15 wins on the season. The Indians will not have to face the Astros ace Dallas Keuchel.
We are coming down to the wire on the 2016 regular season and it’s still any of these teams game. The Wild Card race is by far the more interesting thing in baseball right now and I know until October that is where my attention will be focused.
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