Philadelphia Phillies Class of NL with Pennant Stretch ahead
The Philadelphia Phillies continue to be the class of the National League as MLB enters the final third of its 2011 season, or as it’s commonly called, “the pennant stretch.” The Phillies (64-36, .640 wp) are the only team in the league with a winning percentage above .600, and cruising with a 6.0-game lead in the NL East Division over the Atlanta Braves in second.
The Phillies, riding a five-game winning streak, beat the San Diego Padres in three games over the weekend and are winners in eight of their last 10 games. The New York Mets, hovering around the .500 mark at 50-49 (.495), have fallen way off the pace 14.5 games back while the Washington Nationals (49-52) and Florida Marlins 49-53 bring up the bottom.
The NL Central Division has turned into a real dog-fight with the Pirates, Brewers and Cardinals locked in a three-way tie atop the division while pre-season picks Cincinnati Reds are hanging around 3.0-games back. The rest of the division, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros will not factor in the pennant drive 11.5 and 20 games back.
It’s a two-horse race in the NL West Division with the San Francisco Giants (59-43, .578) the class of that division leading second place Arizona Diamondbacks (55-47, .539) by 4.0 games. TheRockieshave fallen back now at a double-digit deficit, 10.0 games behind the leaders while the bankrupt Dodgers are 13.5 back and the San Diego Padres (44-58) are holding down last place 15.0 games back.
The Braves are currently ahead of the pack in the Wild-Card race with a 4.0 game lead over the Diamondbacks. Two of the three clubs battling for supremacy in the NL Central, will not make the playoffs.
With a third of the season left to play, it’s too early to tell what will happen in the NL Central while in the NL East and West the picture is clear. As good team as the Braves are, the Phillies solid starting rotation of pitchers gives them a clear edge to win. The team to win the NL Central will be the team that finds the best pitching, from either inside the organization or via trade. Out west the Giants are definitely the best and have the pitching to challenge anybody.