And they′re off! The MLB season has entered the final month of a long marathon. There is still division, wildcard and pennant races to be decided. The National League seems to be wrapped up as the closest division race in six games. With less than 20 games to play, teams are focused on the magic numbers to nab a playoff spot. The stats of all the following teams and players come prior to Monday′s action:
NL East: The Philadelphia Phillies lead the division by 12 games over the Atlanta Braves. They also have the best record in baseball with 94-49. This is no surprise seeing that many picked this team to win the World Series, lead by the pitching staff of Cy Young candidates, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. The Phillies also have a potent lineup after trading for OF Hunter Pence before the trade deadline. Look for this team to go deep into the post-season.
NL Central: Leading the Major Leagues with the best home record at 51-22 is the Milwaukee Brewers. They lead the St. Louis Cardinals by six games and are carried by the three and four hitters Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder respectively. With the addition of Zack Grienke and Shaun Marcum in the offseason, to go along with team ace Yovanni Gallardo, the Brewers is looking to takes strides and be a serious contender. They have to quickly turn around their road woes if they hope to win it all.
NL West: The surprise team of the year resides here in the wild west. The Arizona Diamondbacks have shocked the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants and hold an 8 ½ game lead on them. Their ace is Cy Young Candidate, Ian Kennedy, who has an outstanding 19-4 record thus far. On the other side, Arizona is second in the NL in homeruns with 162 — 30 of which belong to MVP candidate Justin Upton. The D-backs, like their manager Kirk Gibson, are tough and won′t back down.
NL Wildcard: The wildcard leader is the Atlanta Braves and they lead the Cardinals by 4 ½ games for the final playoff spot. The Braves are strengthened by their bullpen and rookie closer Craig Kimbrel leads the way with a Major League leading of 43 saves. The Cardinals are still in the hunt and can′t be counted out with the great Albert Pujols. After a slow start Pujols has got it rolling, maybe in time to get his Cardinals into the playoffs.