Time to update our post from last week, 46 Games Left and Counting Down to the #Nats in the Post-Season.
The Nationals have 39 games left and their Magic Number to win the division remains at 31 after today’s win by the Marlins and the frustrating loss by the Nats to the Braves.
The Nats have not gained ground on the Cubs for the best record and home field in the NLCS. But they did not lose any ground in the race for the NL East. After last Sunday’s games they had an 8.5 game lead over the Marlins; and after today’s games, they also have an 8.5 game lead over the Marlins. Likewise they held their own in the race to have home field advantage for the NLDS.
And not losing ground in the race for the NL East and home field in the NLDS is a very good thing – as each day’s games go by, not giving up any ground to the teams chasing the Nats makes it that much harder on them.
Barring something incredible, the Marlins and the Mets best chance to make the post-season would be as a Wild Card team. And the odds for the Mets making the post-season are getting worse by the day. And given how many games they have left against the 4th place Phillies, they may even drop to 4th in the NL East.
The Cubs are almost a sure-fire lock to win the Central Division; while the Giants and Dodgers are still both in the hunt to win the West with the 2nd place team competing for the Wild Card.
The Cubs also have to be the favorite to have the best record in the National League (as well as all of MLB). Since they won the season series with the Nationals, their Magic Number for home field advantage should the Cubs and Nationals meet in the NLCS is 34 (down from 42) – note that this Magic Number factors in the Cubs having won the season series with the Nats.
So lets take a look at the remaining schedules for these teams, along with the Cardinals and the Pirates who also have a good shot at making the post season as Wild Card teams.
Just as we did last week and the week before, lets collapse this table to show how many games each of these teams have left against teams that are above/below .500 so far this year.
|TEAM||Below .500||Above .500|
It looks like the Dodgers, who are neck and neck with the Giants lost the advantage they had in games remaining against teams below .500. The 9 games between these two teams will be key (as Nationals fans know from painful experience last year in the Nats games against the Mets).
And just as we did before, lets calculate a weighted average of the winning percentage for the opponents of these teams and use that percentage to project the total number of wins by the end of the season. Clearly, lots of assumptions here. And since all of these teams are all above .500, this might be an underestimate.
Unlike the table above which is ordered alphabetically by the team acronym, this one is ordered by the total number of projected wins (most wins to least wins).
|TEAM||Below .500||Above .500||Opponent Weighted Win %||WINS||PROJECTED||TOTAL|
The big picture view still suggests that the Cubs and the Nationals have to be odds-on favorites to win their respective divisions and hopefully meet in the NLCS. In fact, it still appears that the Nats have a better shot at home field advantage over the Cubs than either the Giants or the Dodgers have of home-field advantage over the Nats. Based on games against teams above/below .500 the Cubs and Marlins have the toughest remaining schedule.
But as we all know, and have said in each of the prior counting down posts, there is a reason they actually play the games!
UPDATED TO REFLECT THE SUNDAY NIGHT GAME: Mets beat the Giants.