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Here are 7 crucial series to watch this week

@RichardJustice
August 18, 2019

You don’t want to be the National League schedule maker at this point. You just don’t. Trust us on this one. Not with these jumbled standings. Look, some of us love chaos in the closing days of the regular season. We want every team to be playing for something. Welcome

You don’t want to be the National League schedule maker at this point. You just don’t. Trust us on this one. Not with these jumbled standings. Look, some of us love chaos in the closing days of the regular season. We want every team to be playing for something.

Welcome to now. This season, we’ve got a chance for chaos with eight NL teams entering Monday within two games of a playoff berth. Two others -- the Giants and D-backs -- were 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 games out and see themselves as one hot streak from being in the middle of things.

This past week has provided no clarity, and here are seven series we’re keeping an eye on this week:

Brewers at Cardinals
Monday-Wednesday
The Brewers begin the week two games behind the Cardinals and Cubs in the NL Central. If you’re inclined to look down the road to the Cardinals and Cubs playing seven times in the final 11 days of the regular season, don’t do it. All the NL contenders -- that’s 10 of 15 teams -- could hardly be playing with more pressure than they have right now.

Indians at Mets
Tuesday-Thursday
No AL team looks more formidable than the Indians, who are 45-21 since June 4. The Mets have lost four of seven since winning 15 of 16. Every series is critical given the tightness of the NL Wild Card race.

Yankees at A’s
Tuesday-Thursday
Pitching is so yesterday. Otherwise, how do you explain the Yankees? They’re rolling along with the AL’s best record and have won 15 of 18 games in August despite a 5.01 ERA this month. The A’s, who are 52-28 since mid-May, will be a good test.

Phillies at Red Sox
Tuesday-Wednesday
Phillies-Red Sox was a popular World Series pick on Opening Day. Now, both teams are fighting a tidal wave of injuries and disappointing performances. The Phillies have won four of six to restore some optimism to a season that began with lots of it.

Nationals at Cubs
Friday-Sunday
If you picked a certain day, you could point to either of these two teams as the most likely to seriously challenge for the Dodgers for the NL pennant. Both have had their weaknesses exposed along the way.

Braves at Mets
Friday-Sunday
Both these teams have some flaws, and that makes a series like this one that much more interesting. The Braves have been alone atop the NL East since June 12 and have had at least a four-game lead since June 19. But the Nationals, Mets and Phillies are all in contention for at least a Wild Card berth.

Yankees at Dodgers
Friday-Sunday
World Series preview, right? Or at least this series could help decide home-field advantage in the World Series. That still matters, with seven of the last 10 teams with it winning the World Series. Overall, though, not so much. Since 1925, home teams have a losing record (17-19) in Game 7. Regardless, these are two really good teams in a series that should be entertaining.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.