For about a month I've dithered over adding the wild-card standings to the right-side bar of this page. Call it superstition, a purist's snooty dismissal of the concept, or simple laziness (dingdingding), but I haven't done it. If I did, you'd see that the Phillies are 0.5 games behind San Diego for the lead, thanks to the Rockies winning the last two games of their weekend series while the Phils split their last two in DC. The bad news is that the Rockies are now closer in the rearview than might be considered ideal.
But there's another way to look at the last week of the playoff hunt: seven teams in the NL East and West are fighting for three playoff spots. Though this isn't necessarily so (in theory, more than one division also-ran could pass the winner of the other division), for simplicity's sake let's say the top three teams here will play on into October.
|2007 Playoff Race (thru 9/23/07)|
The only teams playing Monday are the Mets (home vs. Washington; Chico vs. Pelfrey) and Padres (at San Francisco; Young vs. Zito). So while the Phils are off, the scoreboard should have some drama. The Phils return to action on Tuesday, as Jamie Moyer faces Braves lefty Chuck James. The Mets continue hosting the Nats, Arizona visits Pittsburgh--which probably means they can start chilling the champagne and printing those "division champion" t-shirts, given the Pirates' recent servicing of the Padres and Cubs--the Rockies visit the Dodgers and the Padres continue their road series with the Giants.
The fourth playoff spot, of course, will be claimed by the winner of the NL Central. Increasingly, that looks like it will be the Cubs. Chicago leads Milwaukee by 3.5 games, and the Brewers' late stumble is bad news for the Phils; they host San Diego for four games to close the regular season, and it would be nice if they were still battling the Padres for a chance at October glory rather than resting exhuasted regulars, trying out pitching prospects, and otherwise doing things that make it less likely they'll win.