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A Wild West Finish: Looking at the NL and AL West Races

Next month, I have the privilege of being able to go to the west coast and see the San Francisco Giants taking on the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics facing the Houston Astros. When I bought these tickets months ago, there was no way I would be going to watch some of the top teams in each division going at it and fighting for the top spot in each of their divisions. With this in mind, I’d like to take a look at the remaining schedules for these four teams, plus the LA Dodgers, and talk about what we should expect from each for the last month and a half of the regular season.

Houston Astros

Current Record: 70-48, 1st in the AL West

The Astros have 44 games remaining on their schedule, with 21 at home and 23 away as well as 21 games against teams currently with an under .500 record and 23 against teams over .500. Of the five teams we’re looking at, they have the easiest schedule, facing a variety of teams home and away. Houston’s key to their remaining schedule is how they handle their fellow AL West opponents. 26 of their games will be against the other teams in the division, six against 2nd place Oakland. And with the six being the team’s last nine games, the hope for Houston is that they can clinch the division by then.

Oakland Athletics

Current Record: 68-51, 2.5 games behind the Astros

The Athletics will have their work cut out for them, with 31 of their 43 games remaining being against teams with an over .500 record. Barring any of the team’s collapsing, that’s a daunting task they have ahead of them. What’s interesting to me is the current series verses the White Sox is their first look at the team. After losing 5-2 last night, they’ll want to take control of the series and at least get a winning record out of their 6 remaining matchups with them. That, combined with doing the same in their 9 games with the 3rd place Seattle Mariners, should put them in good shape to keep the race with the Astros tight before playing them at the end of the season. Then, of course, they have to finish the job.

San Francisco Giants

Record: 77-42, 1st in the NL West

The Giants have a tough schedule in terms of opponent records as well, with 26 games against teams with a better than .500 record, as well as five against the New York Mets (who are at .500 currently). With 6 against the Braves and 4 against the Brewers, they’ll get a good look at some of the other division leaders in their remaining schedule. If they can be competitive in those 10 games, they should be able to stay in the top spot, despite the Dodgers and Padres trying to make a push. Their last 12 games all being within the division also will be a factor.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 73-46, 4 games behind the Giants

The Dodgers are a super team, no doubt, but the Giants have had a magical season and have kept them back in the NL West standings. “Wait until next month,” Dodgers fans kept saying, but here we are mid-August and the team is still 4 games back. They have a sizable lead in the Wild Card, so there shouldn’t be any worry about missing the playoffs, but there has to be some disappointment in the team. Anyway, with 25 games against teams over .500 and 4 against the .500 Mets, they have a similar schedule to the Giants. They’ll need to take care of business against some tough opponents of they have hope of overtaking San Fran.

San Diego Padres

Record: 67-54, 3rd in the NL West, 11 games behind the Giants and 7 behind the Dodgers

The Padres must feel even more disappointed than the Dodgers, as they’re now far behind in the standings and likely won’t win the division, unless both the Giants and Dodgers collapse. The more likely battle, for them, will be to secure a wild card spot. Like Oakland, they have 31 games against teams with a greater than .500 record, which could drop them from their current 1.5 game lead over the Reds in the WC. I would say, despite their talent, the have the most precarious position in terms of not making the playoffs. I still would bet on them making it, but it will certainly be difficult.

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– Pat Shuman (@PShu1996 on Twitter) Check out my other articles here!

Image Source: The Mercury News

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