Time to update our post from last week, 19 Games Left and Counting Down to the #Nats in the Post-Season.
The Nationals have 13 games left in the regular season and their Magic Number to win the division is 6 after today’s games.
There is another, more important, Magic Number to consider. And that number is 10 – the Magic Number to home field advantage in the National League Division Series. So thanks to Diamondbacks today for walking off the Dodgers so we could feature Stephen Drew.
The lead to win the NL East is now 8 games. After last Sunday night’s loss to the Mets, the lead was 11 games; and two weeks ago it was 8.5 games. So, yes, the results this weekend were not to our liking since the Nats lost some ground, but they are still the odds-on favorite to win the NL East.
Let us put the lead in perspective. Even if the Mets go on a torrid streak and go 10-3 (i.e., 769) they would end up with 90 wins. To beat that, the Nats would only have to win 3 of their remaining 13 games.
With respect to the race to have home field advantage for the NLDS, the Nats lost ground to the Dodgers. Last week our projections had the Nats at 96 wins, and the Dodgers at 90 and the Giants at 87. This week the numbers are a bit worse: 95 for the Nats and 91 for the Dodgers; with the Giants falling back to a projection at 86. So now is the time to start rooting for the Giants as they play the Dodgers in LA on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. A sweep would be great. The Dodgers have a 5/6 game lead over the Giants and we want that gap to close; it would be a good thing for the Nats if the NL West title chase went down to the wire.
An 8 game lead for the NL East and still having a 4 game lead over the Dodgers and thus the advantage of home field in the NLDS is a very good thing – as each day’s games go by, the Nats just need to not give up much ground to the teams chasing them.
The race for the Wild Card berths is becoming a 3-team race between the Giants, Cardinals and the Mets. While the Marlins and the Pirates are still mathematially alive, their chances are pretty slim.
So lets take a look at the remaining schedules for these 8 teams.
Games against teams also in the play-off chase, carry a bit more weight. So lets look at the games the 8 NL teams still in the race for the post-season have against each other. The Giants and the Dodgers have 6 games against each other; and no other games against anyone vying for a post-season slot. And the three most viable teams (the Mets, Giants and Cardinals) for the two Wild Card slots don’t have any games against each other.
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|
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.
Both the Marlins and the Pirates go into the Below .500 bucket. But that is somewhat misleading since both teams are just 1 game under .500.
Clearly, lots of assumptions here. And since all of the teams still in the post season race 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 are pretty much a lock to win their respective divisions and hopefully meet in the NLCS.
Bottom line is that the Nats are in great shape for the post-season.
So lets have a couple of polls. When do you think the Nats will:
- Clinch the NL East Division title
- Clinch home field advantage for the NLDS.
Since a number of TalkNats folks plan to be in Pittsburgh this coming weekend for some of the games against the Pirates, here’s hoping they get to have at least 1 post-game clinch party.
And now the standard reminder: As we all know, and have said in each of the prior counting down posts, there is a reason they actually play the games!