Given that a modest number of games are left in the 2019 MLB regular season, you can see some pretty stark disparities when it comes to remaining strength of schedule. Those disparities, as such, could play a determinative role in who winds up snagging those remaining playoff berths.will tell you where things stand, and right here we'll focus on the those remaining schedules.
Specifically, let's hit five schedules that stand out as being especially accommodating or especially challenging. On the accommodating front, the Brewers, Diamondbacks and Athletics have pretty easy slates left to play. Let's have a quick look.
The Brewers start Friday play three games at the first-place Cardinals, but then things get much easier, at least theoretically. Here's how the rest of their slate breaks down:
· at Cardinals (3)
· vs. Padres (4)
· vs. Pirates (3)
· at Reds (3)
· at Rockies (3)
Nine of Milwaukee's final 16 games come on the road, but those opponents have an average winning percentage of just .469. After they take their shots at the Cardinals -- the Brewers still have designs on repeating as NL Central champs -- they'll finish up with 13 straight against losing teams. Obviously, losing Christian Yelich to a fractured kneecap was a grave blow, but the Brewers are well positioned to return to the postseason.
Current status: 3 1/2 games out of second NL wild-card spot
Current SportsLine playoff odds: 2.2 percent
The Diamondbacks are fresh off a four-game sweep at the hands of the Mets, and that of course did big damage to their playoff hopes. They're now behind four teams in the queue for that final NL playoff berth. The schedule the rest of the way, though, figures to help Arizona:
· vs. Reds (3)
· vs. Marlins (3)
· at Padres (3)
· vs. Cardinals (3)
· vs. Padres (3)
Straightaway, you'll note that Arizona has 12 of its final 15 games at home, and in 12 of those 15 they'll face losing teams. That docket carries with it an average winning percentage of just .462. As for that series against the Cardinals, the D-Backs can hope that the Cardinals will have wrapped up the division title by that point and are in "stay healthy" mode in advance of the NLDS. Arizona is a long shot at this point, but the schedule ahead gives them a real shot.
It's a tight three-team race for two spots among the A's, Rays and Indians. The Indians are a half-game behind Tampa Bay and, thus, one game behind the A's. Oakland, however, has a big edge in schedule:
Nine of their final 15 are on the road, but that's a roundly unimposing slate of opponents. That group has an average winning percentage of .445, and as of this writing all but the Rangers have been officially eliminated from postseason contention. By comparison, the Indians' remaining opponents have an average winning percentage of .483, and the Rays' opponents the rest of the way check in at .517.
St. Louis Cardinals
Current status: Leads NL Central by four games over Brewers and Cubs
Current SportsLine playoff odds: 92.4 percent
The Cardinals have a fairly comfy lead at this late hour, but the final leg won't be easy on them as they attempt to return to the postseason for the first time since 2015. Here's a look:
· vs. Brewers (3)
· vs. Nationals (3)
· at Cubs (4)
· at Diamondbacks (3)
· vs. Cubs (3)
That's an average winning percentage of .534, the highest such figure in the NL. As well, all of those teams figure to be scratching and clawing for their playoff lives when the Cardinals run into them. On top of that, the Cardinals, thanks in part to that pair of doubleheaders they played against the Reds to end August and start September, will end the regular season having played 30 games in 30 days. They have a solid lead in the Central, but they'll have to earn it the rest of the way.
Current status: Holds top NL wild-card spot by 3 1/2 games
Current SportsLine playoff odds: 94.0 percent
The Nats are on solid footing thanks to a 57-31 record since the end of May. To lock up a job-saving playoff berth for manager Davey Martinez, however, they'll need to fight their way through a tough final stretch. Here it is:
· vs. Braves (3)
· at Cardinals (3)
· at Marlins (3)
· vs. Phillies (5)
· vs. Indians (3)
That's an average winning percentage of .527. The Braves and Cardinals likely will not have clinched when they play the Nats, and the Phillies and Indians on the back end could still be alive and fighting for a playoff berth. The Nats will close out the regular season with 11 games in 10 days. They're strong favorites to host the Wild Card Game, as the playoff odds above show, but their current lead will be tested.