We’re now getting down to the last month of the season. Everyone talks about remaining head to head games among contenders. Granted, that’s the quickest way to catch up with a division leader/for the leader to relegate a pretender to also-ran. However, playing an easy schedule can help to. Let’s see how this might affect each division in September:
The Rays and Yankees finish up against each other, but it’s a moot point if the Rays are still over three games up. The Rays face the 6th toughest remaining schedule at .517. The Yankees’ remaining opponents are at .470. That’s the 3rd easiest. The Red Sox’ is .504, and the Blue Jays’ is .477.
Prediction—The Rays are too strong, but the Yankees will host the Wild Card game.
The White Sox are up 10 games on the Indians. They have 5 games head to head. However, the White Sox have one of the easiest remaining schedules, with their opponents sitting at .478. Fuhgeddaboudit. The ChiSox will win the division in a walk.
The Astros lead by 5.5. They have series left against both the A’s and Mariners. Their overall opponents’ strength is only .493. The Mariners are right there at .496, but 7.5 games will be too much to overcome. The A’s opponents are winning at a .512 clip. It will be tough for them even if they sweep the Astros, and they won’t.
The A’s and Red Sox will come down to the wire for the second wild card spot. The Blue Jays weak strength of schedule will let them get close too.
None of them facing a remaining schedule at .500 or better. That’s what happens in a bad division where every team still has a series against every other team in the division. The Braves’ is .485 and lead the Phil’s by 4.5… but the Phil’s have the easiest remaining schedule in all of MLB at .445. Expect the race to tighten up and that final three game series against each other to be for the division. The Mets have the “hardest” remaining schedule at .491; stick a fork in them, they’re done.
The Brewers lead is presumably safe at 9 games, but they have the 5th toughest remaining schedule at .525. However, the Reds’ is the second easiest at .460. They could at least close the gap somewhat. The Cardinals, facing a .540 schedule (third toughest in MLB) have too high a hill to climb either for the division or a wild card.
The Dodgers and Giants are neck and neck They also have nearly identical remaining strengths of schedule (.508 for the Giants and .502 for the Dodgers). The Padres, with a league toughest .570 are in a lot of trouble unless they dominate those two teams ahead of them (10 against the Giants and 6 against the Dodgers—good luck with that).
Instead, I’m going to say they slip further behind the Reds and then also the Phillies in the wild card chase…that it’s them batting for the second wild card spot. The Reds are 3 up on the Phillies right now, and thanks to also having a weak remaining schedule will eke out the playoff berth.