NL Divisional Races

SEASON FINALLY READY TO START AMONGST NL DIVISIONAL DEAD HEATS

What’s amazing to see as you work your way through the National League standings at the All-Star Break is how little has been decided. There are certainly several teams who have been eliminated from the playoff picture barring miracles. But, few if any of those teams were truly expect to contend.

The projected contenders are so tightly bunched that the 2014 season basically starts after the Break! That’s when:

  • Atlanta and Washington will have to figure out which one of them is going to rise up and grab the NL East by the throat while the other drifts back to Wildcard status.
  • St. Louis and Milwaukee will have to figure out which one of them is going to rise up and grab the NL Central, hopefully with enough alacrity to keep Cincinnati and Pittsburgh from getting any ideas.
  • San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the exact same boat in the NL West, having flip-flopped first place a few times in recent days.

Maybe we’ll see the projected champs from March surge into October…that being the triumvirate of Washington, St. Louis, and LAD. The Cards received very bad news a few days ago when catcher extraordinaire Yadier Molina suffered a torn ligament in his thumb. He’ll be out 8-12 weeks at the worst possible time, but at least has a chance to be at full strength for the postseason if the Cards qualify. The other two have a lot of reasons why they should play better in the second half of the season than they did in the first.

Here’s a quick look at each division so we can touch on all 15 teams here in the hiatus. We’ll do the same thing for the American League tomorrow before resuming our college football conference previews Wednesday in the ACC.

NL EAST
It’s already clear that Miami, the NY Mets, and Philadelphia are going to be also-rans. They’re far enough below the .500 mark that “you can’t get there from here” applies to playoff hopes unless one of them wins 15 in a row somewhere along the line. That leaves the race we already mentioned between Atlanta and Washington…one that’s been puttering along through 2014 as it is. Expect the intensity to get cranked up a notch. Oddsmakers will make those teams even more expensive than they’ve already been. Your best bet for value will probably be trying to find which of the three laggards has a chance to exceed their lower expectations. The Phils have been hot lately.

NL CENTRAL
Things could get very interesting here because Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are within striking distance despite disappointing starts. Milwaukee has seemingly collapsed the past two weeks. St. Louis isn’t likely to be a juggernaut without Molina’s on-field leadership guiding the pitching staff. Write off the Chicago Cubs who are still building for 2015 and beyond. It’s safe to expect that at least one of Reds/Pirates will make a run while at least one of Brewers/Cards (and maybe both) are unable to do anything to pull away from the field. Very exciting race…and the potential for handicapping value if you can target which of the Reds/Pirates are best positioned to make a run.

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NL WEST
Very sad to see what’s going on at the bottom of this division, with Colorado, San Diego, and Arizona all playing such sub-par baseball. Either of the three could win its next 10 games and still not reach the .500 mark. And, frankly, San Francisco has been as bad as those three in recent weeks, blowing a huge lead when it seemed they were a lock for the playoffs. The division is the Dodgers’ to win. A little too much water treading in recent days for our taste…but that rotation is likely to dominate the West in the second half. Of course, oddsmakers already price that rotation with ultimate respect. Your best shot at value in this group is to find which of the stragglers puts the pieces together in a way that means .500 caliber baseball in predominately underdog roles.

Back Tuesday with a quick discussion of the American League. We can’t give away too many secrets here in the NOTEBOOK because paying clients are expecting to hit the ground running when the season resumes later this week. Now is a great time to explore your options for the rest of baseball and all of football. Call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 any time during regular business hours this week. You’ll be able to purchase Tuesday’s All-Star selection right here at the website with your credit card on game day.

Here’s this week’s schedule here in the NOTEBOOK…

Tuesday: AL Review at the All-Star Break
Wednesday: College Football…ACC Atlantic Division Preview
Thursday: College Football…ACC Coastal Division Preview
Friday: MLB Series Preview…choosing between LAD/St. Louis and Baltimore/Oakland
Saturday: College Football…Big 10 “East” Preview
Sunday: College Football…Big 10 “West” Preview

We can’t emphasize this enough…get your ducks in a row during the All-Star Break so it will be FULL-STEAM-AHEAD when the games resume. That’s how you’ll GET ALL THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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