As anyone who has ever played in the Palisades WBL can tell you there are no easy games, just varying degrees of difficulty. For some of the current cellar dwellers thanks to some fortuitous second half scheduling there may be ample opportunity to make a run down the stretch. For a few teams in the top six securing a playoff spot is going to take mistake free play and a little bit of luck. Here is a look at the strength of schedule from easiest to toughest as we head down the stretch run in the Palisades WBL.
Mariners (3-9)- The first half of the 2017 season wasn't what anyone expected. As perennial contenders the Mariners have been one of the winningest regular season franchises in the Palisades WBL. This year's team while not the best Mariners squad of all-time is certainly much better than their record would suggest. With far and away the easiest schedule over the last 10 games of the season the Mariners may be able to channel the 2010 Pirates and make an improbable run at one of the six playoff spots.
It won't take long to figure out if they have a run in them as their next four games include a doubleheader against the Royals and a split series with the Yankees and Expos. If the Mariners can manage to go 3-1 they finish the season with the Astros, Cardinals and Brewers.
The good news for the Astros is that they have the second easiest remaining schedule, the bad is at 2-10 they are two or three loses from being eliminated from playoff contention. At this point splits aren't going to get it done. If they can somehow manage to steal their game against the D-Backs in a split series this Sunday the Dodgers who they play one more time are the only other team on their schedule who currently holds a winning record.
Brewers (3-9)- Since their 2014 Championship the Brewers have a record of 16-40 which is the worst in the League over that span. Additionally, no franchise has ever lost more than the Brewers. With an less than stunning all-time regular season record of 53-69.
This was the year they were supposed to pull themselves out of the cellar and with the Padres, Yankees and Dodgers still on their schedule it doesn't look like the losing will stop anytime in the near future. All that aside they do have the third easiest remaining schedule mainly due to three games against the last place Astros.
The Yankees (6-6) have a pair of games remaining against the Brewers and Astros. They also have a doubleheader against the Dodgers this Sunday, followed by a split series vs. the Expos and Mariners. Aside from that they play the Royals Week 10. The Yankees sit just a game behind the Royals for the sixth playoff spot so that series may be crucial to their playoff hopes.
Expos (9-3)- The Expos are running on all cylinders right now. Early on it looked like they had no shot of repeating but now with a team that is clearly better in every way (provided Kenny Rodgers is back for the second half) they may be the favorites. Their biggest test should be a doubleheader this Sunday against the suddenly surging Giants and a Week 10 matchup against the Padres which is shaping up to be a battle for a first round bye. They do have three games left against the struggling Cardinals and will face the Yankees, Mariners and D-Backs one more time.
Dodgers (10-2)- With more wins than any franchise in Palisades history the Dodgers are looking to add a second championship to the mantle. With a remaining doubleheaders against the Yankees, Royals, D-Backs and Giants to go along with a split series against the Brewers and Astros the Dodgers have their work cut out for them. With sweeps of the second place Padres and third place Expos they do have a little breathing room. Right now they have the 5th toughest remaining schedule but once they get through this weekend with the Yankees they drop down 3rd easiest schedule the rest of the way.
Cardinals (3-9)- No one was picking the Cardinals to win the Pennant but everyone considered them a team that had more than a shot to earn a playoff berth. With three games left against the Expos and pair against the Giants, Mariners and D-Backs the only thing they may be playing for the rest of the way is an early draft pick.
Padres (9-3)- The Padres have a doubleheader against the Brewers on Sunday and three games left against the Royals. Their other five games are against the D-Backs, Expos and one against the Giants. At this point their chances to earn a bye is still more than plausible but their last eight games will be against teams playing for their playoff lives.
Diamondbacks (7-5)- The D-Backs have a brutal schedule. This Sunday they get a reprieve with a spilt series against the Cards and Astros but after that it is two against the Padres, two against the Dodgers, two against the Giants, one more game against the Cards and they finish the season with a game against the Expos. The D-Backs will have every opportunity to shake up the standings down the stretch and if they do will be tournament tested.
Giants (7-5)- The Giants were my pick to play in the finals but at only two games over .500 and a schedule that includes 8 of their final 10 against winning teams it may be time to rethink that prediction. Things could get a whole heck of a lot easier if they can sweep the Expos on Sunday. The matchup has all the makings of The Game of the Week.
Royals (7-5)- When the Mariners are the easiest team left on your schedule things aren't going to be easy. After the Mariners this Sunday the Royals face the Dodgers, have a split series against the Giants and Padres, a doubleheader with the Yankees and then finish up with two more against the Padres. While the Royals were the feel good story of the first half it may end in tragic fashion.