The Last Day of the National League Regular Season

Looking at the National League standings, the first thing that strikes me is that of the 15 teams in the league, only six will finish the season at .500 or better. That is just plain pathetic. The division that began the season as most likely to be the worst in baseball, the NL West, did not retain that distinction, however, despite having, as I also said from before day one, the unquestioned worst team in baseball, the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D’Backs did spend some time in next to last place, ahead of the injury ravaged Rockies, but in the end they came through, losing the most games of any team, and seeing their jerk of a general manager, Kevin Towers, and their manager, Kirk Gibson, both removed from office. But, baseball’s worst division turned out to be the NL East, featuring one great team, the Nationals, finishing with the league’s best record, and no one else even close to .500. As the last day of regular play begins, Atlanta and the hapless Mets are tied for second, each 17 games back, and five games under .500.

On the final day, the only division with a competitive race, the Central, sees the last two teams standing going down to their final games. For much of the season, Milwaukee looked like the leagues' best team, taking an early division lead that lasted for several months. But, that did not last, and the team sunk over the second half, and as first the Cardinals and then the Pirates each got hot, the Brewers end out of the running, while the other two will see their fates decided
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tomorrow, or not. A Cardinals’ loss and a Pirates win would mean a tie and a one game playoff. Don’t bet on the Cards losing, however, as they have 20-game-winner Adam Wainwright going against Arizona, and don’t expect to see any hint of life or motivation from the D’Backs, despite having Josh Collmenter pitching. Collmenter has been their best starter, and St. Louis has found him practically unhitable in three games this season, with a 2-0 record and a 0.84 ERA against them. Meanwhile, the Pirates will face Johnny Cueto who will be trying to complete a career year by winning his 20th. Both the Cards and Pirates are in the playoffs, but the division winner will face the Dodgers in an actual series, while the loser will be the the wild card team, meeting the Giants in a one-game playoff to see who stays on to face the Nationals.

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Yesterday, Stephen Strasburg struck out seven, giving him 242 and passing Clayton Kershaw by three for the league lead. Today, Cueto will be trying to pass them both, needing eight to pass Strasburg to take the strikeout title away. Wainwright will also be trying to tie Kershaw for the league lead in wins at 21. Kershaw will win his fourth consecutive ERA title, with an ERA of 1.77. Despite all the hype and inaccurate comparisons, Kershaw is still no Sandy Koufax,
and has yet to complete a season with an ERA that betters either of Koufax’ two best numbers, 1.73 and 1.74.

While the NL batting title is also going down to the last day, with Justin Morneau taking a one-point lead over Josh Harrison into the final games, Dodgers have locked up three major offensive categories, with Adrian Gonzalez winning the RBI title (113 as of now, to Giancarlo Stanton’s 105), and Dee Gordon having the stolen base leadership, with 64, an eight steal lead over Billy Hamilton, and with a two triple lead, 12, to 10, over three others, for that title.

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