Posted 08/15/2007 at 04:24 PM
The most exciting race down the stretch could be in the NL Central. I should say the most closely contested, not neccessarily the most exciting as the division will be decided by teams that are not playing well and not posting strong records as opposed to hot teams going at it. Hopefully one of the NL divisions will deliver a great finish with teams playing well as all three divisions are up for grabs still. In reality all six MLB divisions are currently featuring fairly narrow gaps, so this could be a September to remember.
Back in the NL Central though, four teams appear to have a legitimate shot after early in the year this division was pretty much without a race as the Brewers carried such a big lead. Times have changed as the Brewers continue to slide with terrible pitching performances and little offensive production outside of star rookie Ryan Braun. Many talk about where the Brewers would be if they had started the season with Braun in the majors but if they did not have Braun for the last three months, they certainly would not still be leading the division. He is a bit of a defensive liability but his offense more than makes up for it with just incredible numbers for so few games.
The Cubs seemingly have had the life taken out of them with Soriano's injury. Those that feel Soriano is overrated should take a look at the Cubs performance without him, just 2-5. St. Louis is making a charge but the starting rotation looks pretty ugly for the Cardinals. As I have noted in my most recent article, a team on the outside that could finish strong is the Houston Astros. Houston is eight games out but they have won six of the last eight games are charging fast. The Astros have been a great late season team the past three years and you shouldn't be surprised if the Astros inch closer in the next few weeks and create a four team finish.
Speaking of the Astros, Houston may be worth a look tonight as a big underdog. Jason Jennings has been terrible for Houston this season but the Dodgers are in such a funk that Houston has a great chance for the upset. Brad Penny has been fairly average in recent starts and historically is a bad late season proposition. With a team that is averaging just two runs per game in the last two weeks as a big favorite tonight, the underdog price with Houston looks like a great shot. The Astros are playing better on the road than the season numbers indicate and have already taken the first two of the series in LA.