The Last month of the MLB season
As of today, there is exactly one month left in the MLB season. As teams enter the stretch run, those in playoff position look to maintain their leads while those on the outside try to make one more push for the Postseason. Let’s take a look at each team with a shot to make the Postseason, starting with the American League.
Boston Red Sox
They are not only the best team by far this season, they may be one of the best of all time. Though the Sox are no longer on pace to match the 2001 Mariners’ historic 116 win campaign (barring a 23-3 record to close out the season), they have managed to stay strong despite ace Chris Sale having spent the past few week intermittently on the DL. J.D Martinez and Mookie Betts could both win MVP, the bullpen is one of the best in baseball...all that’s left now is a run to the World Series.
New York Yankees
In any other division, the Yankees would be in first. Alas, their long-time rivals continue to bother them. Despite losing Gary Sanchez for most of the year (he was just reactivated) and losing Aaron Judge for what looks like the rest of the season (hence the Andrew McCutchen trade), the Bronx Bombers have maintained the second-best record in baseball. Manager Aaron Boone clearly has connected with the players, and should Luis Severino manage to NOT melt down in the Wild Card game, there will be a very interesting ALDS between AL East foes…
From easy AL West favorites to a tight race with the Oakland A’s, the Astros have been tested here going into September. They are still a top team in the Majors, but with Oakland now only 1.5 games back, they need a strong last month of the season to avoid a Wild Card game.
Easily the biggest surprise this year, Oakland has gone from cellar-dwellers to competing with the defending World Series champions. A surprisingly strong rotation combined with baseball’s deepest bullpen has elevated the A’s success along with their always-powerful offense. Starters Sean Manaea and Brett Anderson are on the DL as of now, so finding consistent pitching is a must for Oakland in September.
Seattle’s trajectory this season has been the opposite of the A’s; at one point they lead their division, but they now sit seven games behind the Astros and 5.5 behind Oakland. The offense has not been as strong as it was in the first half, and their very surprising rotation has cooled off. The Mariners will need to find a spark, and soon, if they are to get back into contention.
They will play whoever wins the AL West. The bullpen has struggled mightily at times, but the addition of Josh Donaldson should shore up an otherwise inconsistent offense this year. The starting staff is as dominant as ever, but the rest of the team doesn’t quite look as good as last year.
I was one of the many who predicted the Braves would fade, but such is not the case. Their offense is still churning, [most] of their pitching staff is still dealing, and Brian Snitker has done a great job keeping the clubhouse loose and lax. The Braves should be able to hold in the NL East race and look to play in the NLDS.
A team I predicted would take off, especially with additions like Justin Bour, Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilson Ramos, has not. For some reason, Philly has seemed unmotivated to reach out and grab the division from Atlanta, and they’re quickly running out of time. Though they sit only two games out, they need to get it going soon, because the Wild Card is going to be even tougher.
They scared us for a bit, but the Cubbies are back. This team is very reminiscent of the past two years when Chicago had great success, so expect that to continue here in 2018. They can pitch, hit, field, run, dance, argue...all the qualities you’d want in a great ballclub. With the Brewers falling back a few games, this is Chicago’s chance to open up their lead in the division.
St. Louis Cardinals
Here is my lukewarm take: if the Cardinals make the Postseason, Matt Carpenter is the NL MVP. It’s no surprise that when Carpenter was slumping early on, the Cardinals couldn’t get it going. Now that he is on fire, the team is as well. Their pitching has been tremendous to back the salsa-infused lineup, and they have played themselves right past their division-rival Brewers into to the first Wild Card spot. If they can keep it up they could make a very interesting NLDS between themselves and Chicago…
Some are panicking about this team, but they seem to forget the Brewers still hold the second Wild Card spot. I wrote an article about them a few weeks ago, and I stand by everything I said. I believe they will still make the Wild Card, but without a true ace it might be tough sledding.
Through all the ups and downs of Arizona’s season, they still sit in first place in the NL West. The offense has been inconsistent, the bullpen has been inconsistent, but their standing is one thing that has remained. All they need to do is have a solid September and they should be able to lock up the NL West.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Another team with mountains of highs and valleys of lows, the Dodgers have found some late life here to move within a game of Arizona. Their deadline deals for Manny Machado and Brian Dozier haven’t seemed to affect the team too much, so maybe the recently-acquired David Freese and Ryan Madson can help. There’s no one spot to point out for the Dodgers this season, it’s just all going to come down to whether or not their big talent steps up in September.
I want to root for this team, but I just don’t see how they make the Postseason. I know they’re only 1.5 games out of the NL West lead, but their poor pitching from both starters and relievers is going to doom them. Sure they can hit and play great defense, but teams with bad pitching never make it to the Postseason.
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