19 Weeks In: MLB: Power Rankings, Matchups, Highlights and more
It’s always a weird feeling when I’m updating the power rankings and don’t hit the Minnesota Twins until I’m into the 20s. They’re eight games below .500 and somehow still sit in second place in the AL Central. At least the Cleveland Indians have begun stringing it together and making a case for their playoff viability. But the real focus over the next couple months will be on the AL East and AL West wild card race. The Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners are neck-and-neck with an outside chance of either team passing the New York Yankees; maybe even both. The Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros are in first place in their respective divisions, but neither hold particularly comfortable leads at 5.5 games and 4 games, respectively.
In the National League, the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers are all separated from their second-place division rivals by a game and a half or less. In the NL West the third place Colorado Rockies are only one game back from the lead, with the Arizona Diamondbacks holding the same amount of wins as the first place Dodgers and only one more loss, sitting at 0.5 games back. In other words, this thing is a coin flip in all areas (aside from the AL Central). This is where things start to get really fun. Let’s dive into some highlights.
Top Three Plays
Give Him A Golden Glove
One Hard, One Easy
Big Scoops & Mookie
What To Watch
Well I hate to sound like a broken record, but let’s be honest. There’s simply no way to have a Red Sox vs. Yankees series on the horizon without spotlighting it in the ‘What To Watch’ section. It’d be irresponsible, especially this year.
With the Yankees 5.5 games back from Sox, this four-game series could be a crucial one in the razor-close playoff race. A sweep by either team would be devastating, either thrusting the Yankees into a wild-card race they may not win or relegating the Red Sox to a near-tie for the division lead. While I don’t think that either team is capable of a sweep – I’m expecting a 3-1 win for Boston at Fenway – it’s still something to keep in mind.
Now these teams look a little different than they did in their previous meetings. For the Yanks, they’re without Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez due to injury, but the addition of J.A. Happ will be huge for them. In his first start with the Yankees, he went six innings with one earned run and three hits. To be fair, it was against an atrocious Kansas City Royals team, but a solid performance nonetheless.
The Red Sox added Nathan Eovaldi, a starter from the Tampa Bay Rays who will likely wind up fourth in the rotation. Not exactly the huge impact signing that J.A. Happ is, but still an important acquisition for the Sox. In his first start, he shut out the Minnesota Twins over seven innings, giving up only four hits in the process. This is a huge improvement over his last start against the Twins, when he gave up eight runs in just 2.2 innings.
In terms of injuries, Boston will likely be missing Rafael Devers, but all-star first basemen Mitch Moreland should be back in time for the weekend series. To be honest, I’m more worried about the recent lack-of-control shown by closer Craig Kimbrel after his blown save against the Twins on Saturday. He was able to pick up another save on Sunday afternoon, but the accuracy didn’t seem to be as sharp as we’re used to.
The probable starters are yet to be announced, but we can expect some combination of Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Nate Eovaldi vs. Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ. We may see a Sonny Gray appearance for New York or possibly Drew Pomeranz for Boston depending on his next start, but I have my doubts. Gray is recovering from a right thumb injury and Pomeranz has been less than stellar this season.
And this is Red Sox, Yankees. It’s going to be a wild ride no matter who’s in the game. Soak it in while you can, only two (guaranteed) series left after this one.
Boston Red Sox (74-33) ---
New York Yankees (67-37) ---
Houston Astros (67-40) ---
Seattle Mariners (62-43) ---
Chicago Cubs (61-44) ---
Oakland Athletics (61-46) ---
Milwaukee Brewers (51-47) +1
Los Angeles Dodgers (59-47) +2
Philadelphia Phillies (58-47) - 2
Arizona Diamondbacks (59-48) +2
Cleveland Indians (57-47) ---
Colorado Rockies (57-47) +1
Atlanta Braves (55-47) - 4
St. Louis Cardinals (53-52) ---
Pittsburgh Pirates (55-52) +4
Los Angeles Angels (54-53) +1
Tampa Bay Rays (53-53) - 2
San Francisco Giants (53-54) - 2
Washington Nationals (52-53) - 1
Minnesota Twins (48-56) ---
Toronto Blue Jays (48-56) ---
Cincinnati Reds (48-58) ---
Miami Marlins (46-61) +2
New York Mets (44-59) +2
Texas Rangers (45-62) - 2
Detroit Tigers (45-62) - 2
San Diego Padres (42-66) ---
Chicago White Sox (37-68) ---
Kansas City Royals (32-73) +1
Baltimore Orioles (32-74) - 1
**+/- represents how far each team has moved since the beginning of the 2018 season.