The National League is one big cluster of contenders. Outside of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves, every other postseason spot seems up for grabs.
With roughly six weeks left in the regular season, a team's weakness can decide whether they continue playing when October rolls around or go home early. Here's every NL contender's (and yes, there's a ton of 'em) biggest weakness heading down the stretch.
10. San Francisco Giants: Offense
The San Francisco Giants have come off that hot streak, which led them to be buyers instead of full-on sellers at the trade deadline. Maybe that's what they should've done, but one thing they didn't add was a player who could improve their offense, which is why they are losing ground in the Wild Card. Maybe they can rekindle that magic before it's too late, but their inability to score runs makes it tough, and Scooter Gennett's not helping much.
9. Arizona Diamondbacks: Pitching
Even though Arizona is above .500 and still in the mix for a Wild Card spot, they traded away their ace Zack Greinke. As you can imagine, such a move has had a significant impact on this pitching staff, which was already faltering before the trade and remains without Taijuan Walker for the long haul.
8. New York Mets: Bullpen
The New York Mets rotation is good enough to lead them to a Wild Card berth, but this bullpen is an absolute mess and it starts with closer Edwin Diaz, who doesn't look like the guy who was the best reliever in the game last year. At least they have the best reliever in the game (???) in Seth Lugo (oh boy).
7. Philadelphia Phillies: Pitching Staff
The entire Phillies pitching staff is a problem, as their top relievers (David Robertston, Seranthony Dominguez, Tommy Hunter) are on the shelf, and their rotation outside of Aaron Nola has been pretty bad. Oh, and Jake Arrieta might miss the rest of the season because of an injured elbow, which he's been pitching through.
6. Milwaukee Brewers: Starting Rotation
This was a problem for the Milwaukee Brewers before the season started, and because their bullpen hasn't been as dominant as it was last year, it's even more glaring now. Brandon Woodruff was the only starter having a good year, and he's out due to injury, with contributors like Zach Davies and Jhoulys Chacin also on the shelf.
5. Chicago Cubs: Starting Rotation
You wouldn't think this would be a problem for the Chicago Cubs, but respected names like Jon Lester, Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana have ERAs over 4.00, and Cole Hamels hasn't looked like himself since coming back. They don't have much minor league depth, so these are the guys Joe Maddon has to ride with, for better or worse.
4. Washington Nationals: Bullpen
The Washington Nationals have the worst bullpen in the National League, and maybe all of baseball. Ever heard that before? Closer Sean Doolittle is the only one manager Davey Martinez can rely on, and even he's had a hiccup here and there. They have to hope guys off the trash heap like Fernando Rodney and Hunter Strickland can pick up the slack down the stretch.
3. St. Louis Cardinals: Lineup Depth
St. Louis' offense has been better lately thanks to Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna, but it's hard to know what the Cardinals are going to get after those batters evacuate the box. They need Matt Carpenter to find the stroke he had last year, but time is ticking away, and it might be too late by the time he finds his bearings.
2. Atlanta Braves: Bullpen
The Atlanta Braves were one of the big winners at the trade deadline, as they brought in three vaunted relievers to fix the bullpen. Well, none of them have gotten the job done, and every night, it's a cardiac save for this group. What more can be done?
1. Los Angeles Dodgers: Bullpen
Overall, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a good enough bullpen. However, Kenley Jansen hasn't been the same guy as his most dominant days, and setup man Joe Kelly has struggled all season. If there was one part of this team that should've been addressed at the deadline, it was the bullpen, but the powers that be ignored (or, rather, didn't blink in the Felipe Vazquez chase) this weak spot on what is a deep roster.