It was another wild week in the National League with the division leaders trying to hold off those chasing them.
Let's take a look at where each team is, where they have been and where they are headed.
NL East - No Rest For The Weary
Atlanta started last week by being swept by Boston at home and embarked on a seven-game road trip to Arizona (4 games) and San Francisco. As of this past Saturday, the Braves has a two-game lead over Philadelphia. Atlanta still has the third-best ERA among starting pitchers, but two of their main starters, Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb, have shown sign of fatigue, with only Julio Teheran really stepping up. With the 10th ranked bullpen, it seems like Braves are trying to survive rather than thrive.
Coming into the weekend series with the Mets, Philadelphia was not exactly a juggernaut, with a series record of 0-5-2 since sweeping Miami to start last month. A good chunk of the Phillies' problems has been a lackluster offense, which averages only 4.3 RPG (lowest among all NL playoff contenders). If Philly is to make a real run at Atlanta, the offense will have score and somebody besides Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta has to pitch well. Looking ahead, the Phil have a nine-game homestand against division partners not named Atlanta and they need to go 7-2. Possible opportunity for baseball bettors.
NL Central - Hunting Cubbie Blue and Wild Cards
The Chicago Cubs have the best record in the NL and went into the weekend with a five-game lead in the loss column over Milwaukee and six over St. Louis. The Cubs faced Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer in this in the series and lived to tell about. Despite struggles with various aspects of their team, Joe Maddon's club is hanging in and if by chance they could put it all together the in the last three weeks, they could be heading back to the World Series. This week the Cubs have a key three-game set with Milwaukee at Wrigley.
The Brewers really wanted a Cubs sweep but came up short. However, they remain in good shape for the Wild Card and are trying to hunt down Chicago. Milwaukee has six total road games against the Cubs and Cardinals, but other than those, right now they are not scheduled to play an opponent with a winning record.
After that 22-5 spurt, St. Louis has cooled slightly, but they should heat up again with road series at Detroit before coming home to take on Pittsburgh. The Redbirds slate is tougher as still having to play the Dodgers (4) and at Atlanta (3). Yet the way they are playing, the Cards a coming!
NL West - Who Wants It?
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado are wrapping up their huge series at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Colorado continues to defy conventional wisdom and be in first place. Almost the entire season the Rockies have been either right above or below the breakeven point in runs scored, which is usually the mark of a .500. team. The Rocks have made backers a load of cash as underdogs, up +17.4 units. Colorado has four more vitally important home games this week against Arizona.
Everyone has waited all season for the Dodgers to take command of the NL West and they have failed to so. They have a big week ahead playing at Cincinnati and four nasty contests with St. Louis in the shadow of The Arch.
The D-Backs are losing ground every week and have played poorly since losing winnable series at Cincinnati in the middle of August. Unfortunately for their fans and bettors tailing them, it's a different problem with every setback. A lack of runs, a poor outing from starting pitcher or the bullpen blowing leads. Arizona has a horrific schedule both short and long-term. The next week is at Colorado (4) and at Houston (3).