I won't lie to you guys. The second half of the season is going to be easier than the first, but it's got some very tough sections to deal with over the summer. Let's take a look at our series on a month by month basis and you'll start to see why things could get a little dicey with some of our lengthy trips.
July - Mets and Giants @ home, then Nats(4) and Fish on the road, then Philly and Fish(4) @ home.
Those first 10 game are all against teams that are either ahead or tied with us for playoff spots. That's a brutal start to the rest of the season. After that, we face 10 games against the sub-.500 Miami and Philly clubs, and we need to make up some ground there.
August - Houston @ home, Philly and Mets on the road, Padres and Dodgers @ home, Nats-Giants-Padres on the road.
The beginning is easy with the Astros and the Phillies who are both sellers at the break in my opinions. Then, outside of the Padres, you have a very tough stretch with 10 straight games against top tier NL teams again. We will have to navigate that 10 game stretch at .500 or better to be in the hunt in September. I can point to that set of games as being supremely key to our playoff chances.
September - Rockies @ home, Mets and Brewers on the road, Nats @ home, Fish and Phillies on the road, Fish and Mets @ home, Pirates on the road in early October.
This couldn't set up better for us in terms of strength of schedule for a playoff run. Only 9 games all month are against teams that have a winning record at the break. 9 games are against teams that are in the bottom of their divisions. Six games are against Miami, who may have completely imploded and given up by that time, and the last series is against the Pirates, who may have already gone to pieces or secured their division depending on how they finish.
Two homestands really jump out to me as series where we need to make our bones, so to speak. From July 27th thru August 5th, we play 10 games against Philly-Miami-Houston. Those teams are awful. We should be able to take 7/10 in order to vault ourselves up in the standings. The other homestand is August 31 thru September 6th, where we play 7 games against Philly and the Rockies, both dead last in their division. 5/7 in that series should be reasonable if we hope to have a playoff shot.
The key to making the playoffs should be relatively simple. Don't get swept by the Nats and Mets, weather the games against the Giants and Dodgers, and take a billyclub to the cellar dwellers who you face later in the year. If we do that, we have a very real shot at being a 95 win team and sitting pretty in the division.