National League Week 21 Recap: Cardinals & Cubs On Top

national league week 21 cardinals cubs top mlb 2015 images

national league week 21 cardinals cubs top mlb 2015 imagesThe count down to October has begun as teams around the National League look to lock up a chance to play during the Major League Baseball post season. As we start to look around at each of the three divisions in the National League, each of the top spots are anchored by teams that have at least a six game lead over the second place team in the division.

The St. Louis Cardinals currently sit with a six game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates while the Chicago Cubs sit just 10.5 games behind in the National League Central. While the Cardinals have the smallest of the margin of games between themselves and the second place team, the team also plays in one of the best divisions in all of Major League Baseball.

Then you have the New York Mets who have a six and half game lead over the Washington Nationals heading into play on Thursday. Meanwhile out West, the Los Angeles Dodgers have found a way to separate themselves from the second place San Francisco Giants after the two teams were just within a game last week of first place. Now the Dodgers have pulled out to a six and half game lead with just the calendar month of September to play.

While we touched on the top three teams in the National League as we entered September we will also get a chance to touch on how each division has played of late. Here is our complete National League Recap to get us prepared for another great week of baseball around Major League.

National League East: If the season ended today the Mets would take home the top spot in the National League East while the Washington Nationals would be heading home to watch the post season on television. Once a favorite not only to run away with the division but also as a favorite to win the 2015 World Series has a ton of ground to make up not only in the NL East but for one of the two wild card spots.

The Mets continue to play some of the better baseball in the National League East picking up seven wins over their last ten games. That success started on Friday August 21st as the Mets would pick up seven straight wins after sweeping the Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies. After back to back losses to the Boston Red Sox, the Mets would rebound to take game three before taking two of three from the Phillies at home.

Meanwhile the Nationals have played a little bit of late winning six of the teams last ten games. That includes taking two of three over the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres and the Miami Marlins. Unfortunately that success couldn’t roll over to their last series, as they managed to take just one of three in St. Louis against the first place Cardinals.

Rounding out the rest of the National League East is the Miami Marlins who sit at just 55-79 after winning three straight entering Thursday. The Atlanta Braves sit in fourth place after losing eight straight and the Phillies currently sit a game back of the Braves in the win column.

National League Central: Over in the Central Division the Cardinals still sit atop the division despite challenges from both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs. That small little gap was increased this week as the Cardinals managed to pick up eight wins over there last ten games while the Pirates managed to pick up six and the Cubs only four over that same stretch.

The keys to the Cardinals success continue to involve both their solid pitching and the ability to hit with runners in scoring position. Entering the weekend the Cardinals had scored 543 runs while the teams pitching has allowed just 401 runs. The 401 runs allowed doesn’t just lead the National League it leads all of Major League Baseball landing them atop for the fewest runs allowed in all of baseball.

That being said the team has been without a real ace since losing Adam Wainwright but don’t tell them that. The team has won nine of their last eleven games played while allowing fewer then three runs in five of those contests. In that stretch the team managed to sweep the Arizona Diamondbacks before taking two of three against the San Francisco Giants as well as the Nationals.

While the Cardinals still hold on to the top spot the Pirates are doing everything in their power to content. Unfortunately. for the Yellow and Blow the last couples days have not gone there way. Starting with a game three loss on Sunday to the Colorado Rockies before heading to Milwaukee where the Brewers would pick up the three game sweep.

Then you have the Cubs who many stated were still a season away from making the playoffs. That could all change if the team can find a way to put together another good month on paper. That will not be an easy task with six remaining against the Cardinals as well as seven more against the Pirates. The good news is the fact the team has six against the Brewers, three against the Cincinnati Reds and four against the Phillies.

Will it be to late for either the Pirates or Cubs to take the division?

National League West: As we start to move along September the playoff picture continues to take shape with only one team from the National League West appearing in focus. That team is the first place Los Angeles Dodgers who has built a solid six and half game lead with just a few weeks remaining on the season.

For every other team in baseball though that is the one team they want to see make the playoffs. When you have a one two punch like Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw who knows how far they could make a run to. That is if Kershaw can find a way to pitch like the regular season during post season play.

Currently the Dodgers have picked up eight wins over their last ten games while the only other team in the Division the Colorado Rockies with a winning record in that stretch. That stretch featured a three game sweep over the Reds, taking two of three against the Cubs and another three game sweep of the Giants.

Outside of the Dodgers it will be difficult for any of these other teams to find a way to make the playoffs.