Things are still a little unsettled in the National League as three teams will be fighting it out for the final two playoff spots.
So far, only the Los Angeles Dodgers have clinched a division title in the National League. In the NL East, the New York Mets are trying to hold off defending World Series champion Atlanta while St. Louis has built up a solid lead on Milwaukee in the NL Central.
With Atlanta having secured a playoff spot, that leaves the San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies, and Milwaukee Brewers battling to get into the postseason.
A Look at NL Favorites
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Record: 106-47
- World Series odds: +285
When a team is flirting with a .700 winning percentage and is +322 in runs scored, it is World Series or bust for the talent-laden Dodgers. It will be much easier coming up with strengths than weaknesses for this squad that the MLB picks has chosen as the World Series favorite.
The Dodgers have already secured home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.
A franchise-record-tying 106 wins and the No. 1 seed for the NL postseason? W. pic.twitter.com/ncZbqfTSLO
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 25, 2022
- Strengths: Do you want pitching? Julio Urias, Tyler Anderson and Tony Gonsolin join Clayton Kershaw in a nasty starting rotation that has overcome the loss of Walker Buehler. Evan Phillips, David Price and Alex Vesia lead the bullpen.
Freddie Freeman and Justin Turner are among the top hitters in baseball in the second half. Trea Turner, former MVP Mookie Betts and Will Smith lead a deep lineup.
- Weaknesses: On Achilles heel could be at closer as the Dodgers have blown eight saves since the MLB All-Star break.
The Dodgers would like to get Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor and Joey Gallo going before the playoffs start as all three are hitting below .200 in the second half.
New York Mets
- Record: 97-57
- World Series odds: +500
The Braves haven’t made things easy for the Mets and that could be a good thing.
The New York pitching staff has been without Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer at various times and still are playoff bound so the team deserves credit for figuring things out.
- Strengths: Facing deGrom and Scherzer multiple times each in a playoff series will be no easy task. Edwin Diaz, who is 11-for-11 in save opportunities in the second half of the season, is an elite closer.
Jeff McNeil (.339 average) and Francisco Lindor (.315) always seem to be on base to get the tables for power-hitting Pete Alonso.
- Weaknesses: Can Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker and David Peterson get it done in the games when deGrom and Scherzer don’t get the ball?
There are some holes in the lineup as Lindor, Alonso and McNeil can’t be expected to do all the heavy lifting on offense.
- Record: 95-58
- World Series odds: +850
The Braves were struggling early in the season but that is ancient history. Kyle Wright, a 20-game winner, is one of the talented options in the pitching staff while youngsters Michael Harris and Vaughn Grissom have added big bats to a team already with Ronald Acuna and Austin Riley.
- Weaknesses: Matt Olson does have 11 home runs in the second half of the season, but his .196 batting average is a concern for a player brought in to replace Freeman. Having fireballing rookie pitcher Spencer Strider, a top contender per the MLB odds for the Rookie of the Year award, on the injured list is certainly not ideal.
Eager to Join Postseason Party
St. Louis Cardinals
- Record: 89-65
- World Series odds: +1800
The resurgence of Albert Pujols, who recently hit his 700th career home run, is an unexpected bonus. The thought was Pujols returning to St. Louis to wrap up his amazing career would make for great theater. His power will add a dimension for the Cardinals heading into the postseason.
- Strengths: The Cardinals have the fourth-most runs among National League teams since the All-Star Game and have displayed power with 191 home runs to go with 92 stolen bases.
Paul Goldschmidt, listed by the MLB betting line as the MVP favorite, and Nolan Arenado have been joined by Pujols and Corey Dickerson as top hitters in the second half of the season.
The Cardinals can thank the Yankees for gifting them Jordan Montgomery because he has been a huge addition to the staff. Giovanny Gallegos, Ryan Helsley and Andre Pallante are the top arms out of the bullpen.
- Weaknesses: Yadier Molina, Tyler O’Neill, Nolan Gorman and Dylan Carlson are struggling in the second half, although O’Neill has hit 10 home runs.
Do the Cardinals have the starting pitching needed to make a postseason run?
San Diego Padres
- Record: 85-68
- World Series odds: +3000
The Padres have not been shy about making deals in the quest for a World Series title. San Diego has overcome the loss of Fernando Tatis Jr., one of the MVP favorites in the offseason according to the MLB predictions, and is closing in on a spot in the postseason.
- Strengths: There is no lack of talent on this roster with trade-deadline acquisition Juan Soto adding to the star power on this team.
- Blake Snell and Yu Darvish are 15-7 in the second half of the season while Manny Machado is doing his part with a .293 average and 16 home runs since the break.
- Weaknesses: It takes more than talent to win in the postseason and something seems to be missing with this group. The Padres are 33-26 since the All-Star Game and that is OK, but OK doesn’t get it done in the playoffs.
More will be needed from Soto and Jurickson Profar as well as other hitters. Can Mike Clevinger and Joe Musgrove win key games in the postseason?
- Record: 83-69
- World Series odds: +2800
It has been quite the season in Philadelphia with the Phillies vying for a playoff spot after firing manager Joe Girardi. There was a time when it looked as if the Phillies might make a run at the Mets for the NL East title. That hasn’t happened and now the focus is holding onto one of the wild card spots.
- Strengths: Reliever Jose Alvarado and starter Ranger Suarez have been the most consistent throwers in the second half.
J.T. Realmuto, Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh and Nick Castellanos are hitting well in the second half.
- Weaknesses: This is another team with questionable depth on the pitching staff.
Much more will be needed from Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper, who are hitting .222 and .204, respectively, since the MLB All-Star Game.
- Record: 82-71
- World Series odds: +8000
The Brewers still have some work to do to make it into the playoff field. With a 32-28 record over the last 60 games, it is not looking good for the Brewers to catch either the Padres or Phillies.
- Strengths: Kolten Wong is swinging a hot bat while Willy Adames and Hunter Renfroe have combined for 27 home runs in the second half of the season.
Starters Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff are doing what they can to get the Brewers into the postseason, as is reliever Devin Williams.
- Weaknesses: The 15 home runs in the last 57 games for Rowdy Tellez are nice, but a .214 average is not good enough. Andrew McCutchen (.211) is another veteran who needs to produce more consistently.
Reigning Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes is 4-4 with a 4.54 ERA over his last 13 starts and Eric Lauer is also struggling recently.