Breaking down the NL playoff picture

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San Diego has lost 22 of 34 since August 25th, when they had a six and a half game lead on the Giants. So it’s not like we should weep for them or anything, as their wounds are self-inflicted. But it is a bit sad that such an unexpectedly good season from them is most likely going to end on Sunday rather than extend into postseason land.

And “most likely” is the key phrase here. The playoff math, such as it is, breaks down thusly:

  • The Padres could still win the division. How? By sweeping the Giants this weekend and beating them in a one-game playoff on Monday down in San Diego (this weekend’s series is in San Francisco);
  • If the Padres sweep and if the Braves
    lose all three of their games against the Phillies, no Padres-Giants playoff will be necessary. Why? Because, if both the
    Padres and the Giants are assured of a playoff spot they’ll be co-NL West champs, the Padres will be
    seeded as the champ in the playoffs and the Giants will be seeded as the wild card. The seeding is
    by virtue of the Padres winning the season series from the Giants;
  • The Braves playoff magic number is two, so any combination of Braves
    wins and Padres losses that add up to two eliminates the Padres from
    wild card contention. This could happen as early as tonight.
  • If the Padres win two of three from the Giants and the Braves get swept, the Padres and Braves will play game 163 in Atlanta on Monday. Which, even if I don’t want that to happen because of my rooting interests, would be fairly awesome for baseball in general.

I think that covers it all (this involves simple math, and even simple math is a challenge for me).  Basically, though, the Padres have to win all three games or they’re probably SOL.

And yes, if you think that part of the reason I wrote this post was so that I can use another pic of the Padres in their 1984 throwbacks from yesterday, you are absolutely right.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.