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Ranking the NL's easiest roads to the postseason

Updated: July 18, 2009, 7:01 PM ET
By Buster Olney
Here's the ranking of strength of schedule in the second half in the NL. It's great news if you're a fan of the Brewers or the Dodgers or the Marlins, but not so great news if you like the Astros or the Braves.

Consider this: Milwaukee plays exactly one series between now and the beginning of September against a team which sported a record over .500 at the All-Star break. Until then, its schedule is filled up with a lot of games against the Nationals, Pirates and Padres.

These teams are ranked according to the difficulty of schedule, starting with the teams that appear to have the most favorable schedules:

1. Milwaukee Brewers

Home games remaining: 35 (of 74 in the second half)

Big hurdle: After playing all those last-place teams in July and August, the Brewers will have to play a lot of contenders in September. The Brewers' first nine games in September will be against the Cardinals (six) and the Giants (three), and their final 10 games will be against the Phillies, Rockies and Cardinals.

Games against teams with records over .500 at the break: 22

Big finish: The Brewers close the season on the road, with three games in Colorado and three games in St. Louis. It will be important for Milwaukee to take advantage of the soft portion of its schedule in the rest of July, and August.

2. Florida Marlins

Home games: 35 (of 72)

Big hurdle: The Marlins are in the midst of a home series against the Phillies now, and next week they play three in L.A., and then … a whole lot of fluff. They'll have only 14 games remaining against teams that had winning records at the All-Star break, a reason for the Florida front office to remain aggressive and add bullpen help.

Games against teams with records over .500 at the break: 21

Big finish: OK, that last week might make things a little tougher: The Marlins will play three games at Atlanta and three games at Philadelphia.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

Home games: 41 (of 74)

Big hurdle: The Dodgers have a seven-game road trip coming up that will take them through St. Louis and Atlanta, but really, L.A. has a relatively easy schedule. Consider this late-September string: three games in Washington, four games in Pittsburgh, then two in San Diego.

Games against teams with records of .500 or better at the break: 28

Big finish: The Dodgers close out the season with three home games against the Rockies.

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