David Schoenfield breaks down the three contenders in the NL Central -- schedule, starting pitching, relief pitching, hitting -- and comes away with the Reds as the team to beat.
By David Schoenfield, ESPN.com
The wild-card game is, of course, a bit mad. Or maybe completely mad. Telling teams they have to play 162 games to get into the playoffs and then one game to stay alive is akin to telling two NFL teams they've made the playoffs after 16 regular-season games and then get six minutes to determine who moves on to the next round.
That's my new name for the wild-card game: Six minutes of hell.
The one positive aspect of the wild-card game is one of its intended results: Winning your division is, of course, paramount. Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon explained it succinctly the other day, telling the Tampa Bay Times, "I want us to win the division, period … and avoid that madness."
Madness. That's kind of what we have going on in the NL Central right now, in which the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds are now separated by just 2½ games.
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