Much Like the American League breakdown we dropped on Tuesday, the playoff race in the National League has some intriguing scenarios brewing.
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The Los Angeles Dodgers continue to be the best team in baseball and look like a lock for the number one seed. Dave Roberts’ squad has been dominant offensively, and as of Wednesday morning their +294 run differential was easily the best in the league.
The Dodgers have done damage in every way imaginable, but their ability to rack up extra base hits has been the deadliest part of this offense. They currently rank 4th in home runs, 2nd doubles and 3rd in triples, numbers good enough to lead the league in slugging as a squad. Mookie Betts has been a huge part of the power surge in LA, slugging .772 with six home runs and 12 RBI over his last 15 games.
The NL West may be in the bag for the Dodgers, but there is a battle brewing atop the NL East. The New York Mets have once again been walked down by the Atlanta Braves and their young batch of MLBbros.
Atlanta has been able to score runs in bunches all season, and that is primarily due to their ability to collect timely hits. The Braves are hitting .283 with runners in scoring position this season with 30 home runs, 3rd most in the league.
Rookie Michael Harris II has continued to show the league why he’s considered a centerpiece of this core. Harris collected Rookie of the Month honors in August after slashing .337/.400/.589 with four homers and continuing to play one of the best centerfields in baseball. HIs fellow rook Vaughn Grissom may be challenging for the award this month, as he is currently slashing .375/.444/.583 over his last 7 games.
The Braves surge has one again put the pressure on Taijuan Walker and the Mets, and with ace Max Scherzer landing on the IL again the battle just got tougher. New York has lost three straight headed into action Wednesday and are just 5-5 over their last 10.
Walker’s secondary pitches have continued to dazzle, but his last 7 starts have been shaky (2-2 with a 6.60 ERA over 30.0 innings pitched). The Mets bats haven’t gone cold at the worst possible time, and after taking two of three from LA have proceeded to get outscored by the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Mets need to hold on to the division, because the loser of the NL East will be not only forced into the 4 seed, should they survive the Wild Card round they would be staring down the Dodgers.
The St. Louis Cardinals currently have a solid lead on Devin Williams and the Milwaukee Brewers, so barring a collapse by the Cards it may in their best interest to focus on catching Josh Bell and the San Diego Padres.