n.l. east - the phillies currently lead the marlins by 7 games and the braves by 7.5 games. it seems like the phillies will win their 3rd consecutive n.l. east title. but it was just 2 short years ago in '07 that the mets blew a 7 game lead with 17 games to play. give the marlins and braves credit. they played great baseball all season. and next year it will not be easy for the mets to be a contender in the n.l. east. see more on the marlins and braves in the wild card analysis below.
n.l. central - the cardinals have the division locked up as they lead the underachieving cubs by 9 games. this is despite the cardinals having lost 5 of their last 6 games. albert pujols will easily win another mvp award. their starting pitching is very deep with carpenter, wainwright and piniero. with great starting pitching, a successful playoff run might indeed might be in the cards. the cubs have floundered for most of the year. alfonso soriano hit an anemic .241 with 55 rbi before he went down with a knee injury last week. carlos zambrano and most of the relief staff were mediocre at best. the brewers have also been a major disappointment this year. in '08 they won the wild card and made their 1st playoff appearance in 27 years. prince fielder and ryan braun have had great seasons but their pitching has faltered leaving them under .500.
n.l west - the l.a. dodgers have led the division all season and hadn't been challenged until recently. as the rockies and giants caught fire, the dodgers lead shrunk, at one point to 2 games ahead of the rockies. right now they again lead by 5 games. the dodger offense has been led by andre ethier (30 hr's and 98 rbi) and matt kemp (24 hr's and 94 rbi). relief pitching has been great led by jonathan broxton's 35 saves and the set up work of ramon trancoso and ronald bellasario. it looks like the rockies and giants are going to fight it out for the wild card with the rockies currently holding a 3.5 game lead.
wild card - the rockies currently lead the giants by 3.5 games, the marlins by 4.5 games and the braves by 5 games. the giants pitching has carried them thus far. the marlins have been just amazing. they have the lowest payroll (36m at start of season) but still seem to compete every year. they have hanley ramirez leading the league in batting average and one of the best players in the game today. they have great young starting pitchers of josh johnson, ricky nolasco, and sean west. finally the braves, after 3 down years seem to have turned it around. they could have the best starting pitching in baseball - jurrjens, hanson, vazquez, lowe, kawakami, and hudson. neither the marlins or the braves should be counted out for the wild card.
look for a playoff preview right after the end of the season - sunday october 4th.