10. Washington Nationals, 79-64, 2nd in the NL East (ranked 8th last week)
The Nationals had a rough week losing six of their last 10 games after facing the Mets, then the Braves, and now have to deal with the Twins. The Nationals have one more series against a bad team in the Marlins, but the rest of their games will be against all potential playoff teams.
The good news for Washington is that they aren’t losing most of these games by a lot, but it has highlighted their weakest link: the bullpen. With a 4.97 ERA over the last two weeks, the Nationals blew both their save chances during that span, Dave Martinz has tried to use his bullpen much less to avoid the disaster innings. That means more strain on their rotation, which may be the best in baseball, but most teams would hope to be resting some of their veteran starters at this point in the season. With a 2.5 game lead for the top Wild Card spot, the Nationals will hope they can fair better in the coming weeks, but the bullpen is going to be an issue beyond the regular season.
9. St. Louis Cardinals, 81-63, 1st in the NL Central (ranked 10th last week)
After the NL Central was constantly changing hands for the better part of 2019, the Cardinals have finally grasped the division in the final month of the season and have maintained tehir division lead for almost a month now. But with a four-game lead over the Cubs in the NL Central, they’ll face Chicago two more times before the season is over, Cardinals have a tough stretch of games to finish the season.
But the Cardinals pitchers have carried this time over the last two weeks, posting a 2.09 ERA with 23-year-old righty Jack Flaherty leading the way for the starters. The bullpen has also been stabilized with Carlos Martinez in the closer role alongside Andrew Miller and John Brebbia. However, the Cardinals offense lacks much power beyond Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna, but if they remain hot for another week they’ll likely be heading to the postseason again for the first time since 2015.