There are about 40 games left for each team as we head towards the end of September and the regular season. Here is my analysis of the six divisional races.
NL WEST: Arizona is in first place but the Padres will be tough to hold off due to the Padres' superior starting pitching. Arizona has a young and talented roster but their youth and inexperience can hurt them during the stretch drive. Jake Peavy and Chris Young are two of the best pitchers in baseball while the Diamondbacks have Brandon Webb but not much else to instill fear in opposing lineups. Doug Davis has been pitching well and he needs to continue to do that since Randy Johnson is not available. OF Eric Byrnes is a joy to watch. I do not consider the Rockies as serious contenders at all but I can see the Dodgers still making a run at the top.
NL CENTRAL: A two team race between the Brewers and Cubs for most of the year, this division is now a 3 team race with the Cardinals joining the fray. The Cardinals are only 2.5 games back of first now after their sweep of the Brewers today. You can never count out Tony LaRussa. This manager is truly unconventional with his ways. He has his starting pitcher batting 8th in the lineup in every game. So far it has worked. Do not count the World Champs out. The Brewers have been in a slump ever since they lost their ace, Ben Sheets. He might be back at the end of August. Without him, the team has no stopper and have gone on many losing streaks. The Cubs need Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup for them to start winning again.
NL EAST: The Mets are in first place with the Braves and Phillies right behind them. The Braves have a great offensive team and can score almost 6 runs a night with their deep lineup. The problem with the Braves is their starting pitching. I don't think you can win a division with Lance Cormier and Buddy Carlyle making important starts. Although the Phillies are only a few games back, I think the East will come down to the Braves or the Mets. The Phillies just do not have enough starting pitching or a good bullpen to compete.
AL WEST: Two team race between the Angels and Mariners. The Mariners somehow are under the radar and winning with smokes and mirrors. Besides Ichiro, name one player on the roster. I foresee the Angels winning out and seriously giving any team in the playoffs a run for its money. The problem with the Angels is their lack of power as they do not hit many homers.
AL EAST: The Yankees were being counted out by almost everyone after the first few months of the season. Don't look now, but here comes the Bronx Bombers. They lead the American League in home runs and have a lot of offensive firepower thanks to Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui, and Jorge Posada. Their bullpen has gotten better as well as their starting pitching. Red Sox Nation is now officially worried. I believe whoever does not come out of the AL East will win the Wild Card.
AL CENTRAL: Is this a 3 team race or a 2 team race? The Twins are 6 games back coming into today. Both the Tigers and Indians are in terrible slumps and have serious flaws. The Tigers did not make a trade before the trading deadline and never got a reliever they desperately needed to bolster their incompetant bullpen. You won't win games with Macey McBride or Zach Minor but you definitely will blow leads and games with those two. The Indians have their own problems as Travis Hafner has been out of the lineup due to injuries and their lineup has been stagnant. I doubt any team coming out of this division will make any noise in the playoffs.