East: It wasn’t that long ago that it looked like the Atlanta Braves were running away with this division. However, the Philadelphia Phillies finally got healthy, traded for Roy Oswalt and now boast a nearly insurmountable six-game lead on their divisional foes. The Phillies came into the season as the favorite to represent the National League in the World Series, but floundered out of the gate and seemed to have lost something. However, once Ryan Howard and Chase Utley returned from the disabled list, the Phils began hitting again, which has been a big part of their recent success.
The biggest part of their success, however, has to be their starting pitching. Roy Halladay is set to win the Cy Young, Roy Oswalt has been nearly unhittable since joining the team and Cole Hamels looks like the guy we remember from the 2008 postseason. The Phillies are pretty much a lock to take down the N.L. East title and again look to be the National League team that fans most want to get MLB Playoff tickets to see hit the field.
Central: Coming into the 2010 season, it didn’t look like the St. Louis Cardinals were going to receive much competition in a division that they’ve largely dominated as of late. Enter the upstart Cincinnati Reds, who have all but killed the Cards’ playoff hopes. The Reds have a firm grasp on the division in their 7.5-game lead, which should allow them to cruise into the postseason. The Reds have benefitted greatly from a phenomenal season out of first baseman Joey Votto, who has planted himself in the running for the National league’s Most Valuable Player Award. Votto is hitting .323 on the season with 35 home runs, 106 RBI and 15 stolen bases. The Cards have struggled despite another MVP-caliber season from Albert Pujols and solid starting pitching. Their difficulties probably come down to the overall lack of depth in their lineup.
West: The race in the N.L West has been a great one and could go down to the wire this season. The Giants sport a half-game lead over the Padres, who looked like they were running away with the division earlier in the season. The Giants have relied on their stellar pitching staff down the stretch and it has helped keep them in the race despite a myriad of offensive struggles. With Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez and impressive rookie Madison Bumgarner, the Giants have the best starting five in the majors. Bumgarner has been so good that he could get a spot in the postseason rotation over Zito, who has had somewhat of a resurgent season. The Padres are hanging in there, as are the Rockies, who sit 3.5 games back.
Wild Card: The Braves are hanging on to a half-game lead over the Padres and a 3.5-game lead over the Rockies for the final spot in the postseason. However, the Braves have not been playing great baseball as of late and could struggle to hold onto their slim lead. Someone in the West will be challenging them for it.