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Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Wild-Card Wannabes

ESPN.com

The Hunt for October is in full swing, but it's unclear how much excitement the wild-card races will bring us in the next week. Our experts look at three teams on the fringe and discuss their chances.

1. True or false: The Brewers are done.

Molly Knight (@molly_knight), ESPN The Mag: Eek. True? It's a really tough call here because while they're four games behind the Cardinals, they've got three with the Astros this weekend while the Cards have to face the Nats and Reds. Now, presumably Washington and Cincinnati will rest their starters to get ready for the playoffs, so those games might be easier than usual. I'd say the Crew has about a 20 percent chance of making it, but they need a big Cardinals collapse.

Matt Philip (@mattphilip), Fungoes: As a Cardinal fan, I'm slightly more worried about the Brewers than I am about the Dodgers. The Brewers' homer-friendly park, where they've got six of their last nine games, can lead to some flukish outcomes, so they're never really out of many ballgames.

Matt Meyers (@mtmeyers), ESPN.com: False. They have a fairly easy schedule from here on out and seem to have hit their stride. It won't be easy since St. Louis also has an easy path, but I'm not counting them out.


2. True or false: The Dodgers are done.

Knight: True. If Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley were healthy, I wouldn't write them off. But since they're hurt the team has no chance, really. Adrian Gonzalez is finally starting to show signs of life at the plate, but it's too little, too late. Even if by some miracle they were able to make the playoffs, it wouldn't really matter because they'd either lose the wild-card play-in game or get bounced out of the first round. What's really unfortunate, however, is that Billingsley may be out all of next season and Kershaw could be out for a while, too, if hip surgery is necessary. That would make the 2013 playoffs a tall order for the Dodgers. But something tells me this ownership group will go out and buy 10 more pitchers this offseason just to be safe.

Philip: The Dodgers will finish the season with a three-game series against the Giants, who have clinched and will be less inclined to win at any cost. The only problem for the Dodgers is that the Cardinals have the same situation. The Dodgers aren't knocked out, but they're on the ropes.

Meyers: True. If Kemp were 100 percent and they could ride Kershaw, I'd give them a puncher's chance. But since neither is healthy, I just don't see it.


3. True or false: The Rays are done.

Knight: False. Never, ever count out the Rays. Joe Maddon doesn't need people in the greater Tampa area to show up to the Trop and root for his team because he has the universe on his side. They've won five in a row and I like their chances to win seven of their last nine games. Their final series against the Orioles is maybe going to be my favorite baseball series of all time. Can. Not. Wait.

Philip: Not at all. With their final three games at home against the Orioles, they at least have more control over their destiny than they otherwise might. The question is whether anyone will come out to cheer them on.

Meyers: False. Not only do they still have three games left against the Orioles, but the A's, who the Rays are closer to in the wild-card standings, have a brutal schedule over the next nine days. As the Rays proved last year, you can't rule them out until they are mathematically eliminated.