Only three-plus weeks remain in the 2012 regular season with teams continuing to make that one final push that will guarantee themselves a place in the postseason. Here's a look at what some of the best and worst teams did over the course of the last week against the closing lines.
Los Angeles Angels (6-0, $616): If ever a team made a statement this past week, it was manager Mike Scioscia's Halos who swept respective series against Wild Card hopefuls Oakland and Detroit. When the Angels were running hot earlier this season, they destroyed everything in their way. That looks to once be happening again with Los Angeles registering series wins in five of their last six opportunities.
On The Docket: Now 2 1/2-games in back of the A's for the overall Wild Card lead, LA can leap frog everyone in front of them if they sweep its four-game series with Oakland that starts Monday and follow it up with a series win in Kansas City; LA's won 23 of 41 vs. the AL West (-$260).
Philadelphia Phillies (5-1, $478): It's nearly impossible to believe, but the Phillies still have a mathematical shot at qualifying for the second season. Though manager Charlie Manuel's squad sits a hefty 11 1/2-games in back of the Wild Card leading Atlanta Braves, they only trail the play-in holding St. Louis Cardinals by six-games heading into Monday night's series opener with the Marlins. That in and of itself is amazing considering this team was at one point the laughing stock of the NL East.
On The Docket: If Philadelphia somehow manages to inch closer to the Wild Card leaders, it will be over this next stretch of games with them matched up against Miami, Houston, and the Mets in their next three series. Ryan Howard and his mates check in 31-22 ($410) against losing ball clubs this season; 13-6 L/19 ($600).
Atlanta Braves (6-1, $428 ): Manager Fredi Gonzalez's squad had their hearts ripped out in the final game of their 2011 season a year ago to miss out on all the postseason festivities. With that memory fresh in their minds, the Braves have made it a point not to suffer that same kind of letdown in successive seasons. Though the offense has been held in check of late, the pitching staff has picked up the slack limiting the opposition to an average of just 1.7 runs per game through the L/7 games.
On The Docket: The Braves will close out their six-game road trip in Milwaukee before returning home to battle the NL East leading Washington Nationals through the weekend. Atlanta's 36-20 versus sub .500 teams to date, but has struggled vs. +.500 teams winning on 40 of 85 occasions.
Honorable Mentions: San Diego Padres (4-2, $325), Miami Marlins (4-3, $294), Toronto Blue Jays (4-2, $273), Tampa Bay Rays (4-2, $186), Milwaukee Brewers (4-3, $107)
Detroit Tigers (1-5, -$631): To be perfectly honest, I'm getting sick and tired of alternating between money-makers and money-burners with this poor excuse of what was expected to be a division winner. The Tigers are so up and down that it's already had to have driven its fans completely bonkers. Thankfully the NFL season has arrived, but if Sunday's last second win by the Lions over the Rams is a sign of things to come, the upcoming pigskin campaign might be as nerve-racking as the baseball season has been.
On The Docket: This week, the Tigers trail the White Sox by two-games in the AL Central standings. However, if we go by the season long "MO", Verlander and his mates will either hold a one-game lead or be tied next Monday. That notion could come to fruition with the Tigers and Palehose squaring off for the last four times of the year starting Monday night at "The Cell."
Cincinnati Reds (2-4, -$610): Owners of a healthy 8 1/2-game lead in the NL Central, we're going to look past the Reds bankroll bursting week since every team is allowed to have a couple of blunders over the course of a 162 game regular season. The Reds have been nothing short of consistent all season long, though we would feel better about them if the offense started scoring some runs again (2.5 RPG L/7).
On The Docket: If the offense fails to get much done this upcoming week against the Pirates and Marlins pitching staff, there might be some cause for concern with the second season rapidly approaching.
Pittsburgh Pirates (2-4, -$499): It's official! The Buccos ship has officially run out of steam. Once a major player in the NL Central and a surefire Wild Card entrant, manager Clint Hurdle's outfit now sits 11-games out in the division and is in jeopardy of getting leapfrogged by the Brew Crew in the standings. Over the last two seasons, Pittsburgh has shown MLB bettors that it has enough to be a force for the first four months, but is nothing but fade city after; unfortunately!
On The Docket: The Pirates only hope for the postseason would be to qualify as a Wild Card. Catching Atlanta looks to be extremely far-fetched, but they only trail the Cardinals by 3 1/2-games and only have the Dodgers to pass as well. If they could win their next series in Cincinnati and then avenge the series sweep they were just dished out by the Cubs, some new life could be pumped into the Pirates postseason dreams; Andrew McCutchen and company have won 34 of 64 versus NL Central opposition ($340).
Dishonorable Mentions: Boston Red Sox (1-5, -$516), Colorado Rockies (1-6, -$436), New York Mets (1-5, -$391), Los Angeles Dodgers (2-4, -$320), Seattle Mariners (2-4, -$241)