Barring any craziness, we know who will win most of the divisions around MLB this year. The Red Sox are a win tonight away from securing the A.L. East. Cleveland has already sewn up the A.L. Central. And the Astros have a five-game lead over the A’s in the West. That more, or less, locks in the A.L. Wildcards, too. Since it would take a major flail by either the Yankees or A’s to slip out of their respective slots. The only real question in the A.L. Wildcard is who will have the crucial homefield advantage when that one-game playoff happens. My money is on the Yankees holding serve. Aaron Judge is back, and he doesn’t look like that swing is causing him any issues. The National League is starting to take shape as well, with both Atlanta and Chicago in the driver’s seat for the East and Central. The Dodgers have taken a 1.5 game lead in the west, winning seven of their last ten, and getting hot just as Colorado faltered. L.A. looks like they might be the class of the N.L., even with this season’s ups and downs, as they boast the best run differential in the National League (+153) The Rockies haven’t fallen completely out of contention yet, though. They’re only a single game back of the Cardinals for that second wildcard. Milwaukee is looking hold onto that Wildcard home game as they face Cincinnati tonight.
With less than two weeks to play this season, the National League has accomplished something that it hasn’t done since Beyoncé dropped “Crazy in Love”. They beat the American League in the Interleague series. For the first time since 2003. That’s a long run of losses, considering that the National League has won eight World Series titles in that same duration. Since 2013, MLB schedules three-hundred games between the two leagues each season, with the A.L. winning at least 154 each year. Before that, 252 Interleague games were on the schedule. In the years from 2003 until the change, the A.L. won at least 131 of the meetings. So, the closest the NL has come to catching up is eight games…until this year. I’d say it’s a fluke, given that the four highest win totals in the majors right now are in the A.L., but that’s just not the case. The National League has far more competitive teams in every division. Plus, the Orioles and Royals play in the A.L. That didn’t help. But don’t worry AL fans, that streak of All-Star game wins is still going.
As good as the Red Sox have been, on pace to win 110 games this year, they could have been historically good if the bullpen had held up its end of the bargain. Before the All-Star break, the Sox bullpen blew only eight of forty-one save opportunities, on par with the best save percentage in the American League. Since the break, however, Boston’s bullpen has been problematic, at best. Of twenty-four save opportunities, only twelve saves were recorded. Half. That, my friends, is the worst save percentage in the A.L over that stretch. It’s especially frustrating for Sox fans, since they had the second most save opportunities. If they had converted Post All-Star Break at the same rate as earlier in the year, the result would be staggering. They would have roughly 110 wins right now. With over two weeks left in the season.
Image Source: USA Today