Postseason race update:
The AL East will feature two teams in this year’s American League playoffs. The Red Sox have clinched both their third straight division title and the best record in baseball, going into this weekend’s series against the Yankees with 107 wins and counting. The Bosox have already exceeded the franchise record for wins of 105, set by the 1912 unit, which went on to win the World Series. While the Red Sox have a reinvigorated David Price and Chris Sale, the back of the rotation and the bullpen have been far less solid. To succeed in the postseason, Boston will need to continue to be dominant offensively. The Yankees have already won 98 games this year and need only one more win to secure homefield advantage for the wildcard matchup with the Athletics. The Bronx Bombers have been one of the best teams in baseball all season behind a batting order that has few weaknesses and a better than expected rotation. While fall baseball with these two teams is always exciting, it’s not likely to be a classic Red Sox-Yankees matchup this weekend, as both teams are likely to rest up key players ahead of a potential first round showdown.
The Indians have been in first place for 146 days and counting, and they won’t need anything this weekend to change their seeding. They’re locked into the three seed, and it shows. The hottest team in baseball in the month of August has cooled as the weather has, and they’ll face the Astros next week, no matter what happens. That doesn’t mean that the Indians will be pushovers. The heart of that lineup is absolutely stacked, and they will be an exceptionally tough team to eliminate. I struggle to see them defeating the Astros in the first round, based on the strength of their rotation, but if the Astros hurlers aren’t lights out, José Ramirez and company can put up runs in bunches.
Like the East, the AL West will send two teams into the postseason. As expected, the Astros repeated as divisional champs, but the Athletics have been an exciting and unexpected surprise this season. While the Astros and their best in the Majors rotation get ready for Cleveland, the A’s will more than likely need to win a road game in the Bronx to advance against the Red Sox. It will be an uphill climb for the A’s, who don’t exactly jump off the stat sheet, except for the home run column, where Khris Davis leads all major leaguers. I’m not saying it can’t happen for this underdog squad. Just that it would be seem a lot less daunting in the not so friendly confines of the Oakland Coliseum.
The Braves haven’t been above .500, or made the postseason since 2013, and with a new front office, it looks like they’ve found the right track quickly. They outpaced the incumbent Washington Nationals, who threw in the towel shortly after midseason, and the underperforming Mets to capture the NL East crown and lock in either the second or third seed in the National League. They’re currently tied with Colorado for that slot, but the tiebreakers favor the Rockies, so the Braves will need to do some damage against the Phillies this weekend to keep pace.
This one is coming down to the wire, with the defending division champion Cubs leading upstart Milwaukee by only a single game going into the weekend. The Cubs have to be considered a favorite heading into the playoffs, with a top shelf rotation and the second- best team batting average in the majors, led by Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez. The Brewers, if they stay in that wildcard slot, will likely face off against either a scary Dodger squad, or their own division mates, the Cardinals, who are hanging onto their chances, but play at Wrigley Field this weekend. Either way, that wildcard game is sure to feature some fireworks!
The Dodgers were the odds-on favorites to return to the World Series from the National League. They’ve had an up and down season, and now trail the Rockies by a single game for their own division and must hold off the Cardinals to get into the wild card. Any scenario where the Dodgers are in has got to scare the rest of the NL, as no team is going to like their chances with Clayton Kershaw on the mound twice in one series. Not to mention that only the Yankees have hit more home runs than the Dodgers this year.
Image Source: USA Today