With postseason schedules having been released yesterday, the stretch run of the MLB season is amongst us. Sitting atop the standings are the Philadelphia Phillies, who are four-and-a-half games ahead of the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the majors and eight and a half games over the Atlanta Braves for the best in the National League.
At this point in the season, it is safe to say that with a 13.5 game lead over the San Francisco Giants, who are five games behind the Braves for the wild card, a playoff birth is a all but a lock. It would take a monumental collapse, a la the 2007 New York Mets (except worse), to end up watching from the couch in October.
The same can't be said for the rest of the NL and most of the American League, who will continue to fight it out for playoff births down the road.
In the Central, the Milwaukee Brewers seem to have taken control of the division, but with an experienced St. Louis Cardinals team sitting just five games back and almost two months of baseball to be played, anything could happen.
Over out west, the Arizona Diamondbacks took over sole possession of first place last night, sending the Giants into second place a half-game back.
The Braves appear to be in control of the wild card, but a few missteps and they could very well see themselves miss the postseason altogether.
Of these five teams all vying playoff position, who would pose the biggest threat to the Phillies? Only time will tell for sure. For now, let's look ahead and break it down.