25 Weeks In: MLB: Power Rankings, Matchups, Highlights and more
The bullpen is a liability for the Boston Red Sox. We’ve heard it since the all-star break. As the post-season draws near, I’m no less worried about it now than I was in July. Of course there could be help on the horizon. With Chris Sale returning to the starting rotation this week, Nathan Eovaldi has been moved to the pen. Knuckle-baller Steven Wright could help out there as well. And dare I say, the struggling Drew Pomeranz may even provide some assistance. But enough about the Red Sox for now. This is supposed to be a national baseball blog and there is plenty to talk about around the league.
The Houston Astros and Oakland A’s are both in contention for the division lead. Bad news for the New York Yankees who will have to face one of these two powerhouse ball clubs in a one-game playoff. Bet they wish Seattle was still in the running. We’ve got a three-team race in both the NL Central and the NL West. The Atlanta Braves are in control of the NL East but definitely not out of danger quite yet. In fact, the only division that’s completely locked up is the AL Central. The Cleveland Indians have a 15.5 game lead and no one else has a prayer of making it into the wild card game.
The hunt for October is as tight as ever and I’m all-in on baseball! Well… except for the fact that football is back and demanding most of my attention at the moment. But yay baseball!! I’m all in baby!!
Top Three Plays
Just An Unbiased Web Gem
Standing Is Overrated
Mike Trout Is Good
What To Watch
We spent some time focusing on the NL West last week. It’s the most talked-about division in baseball circles this September because there are three teams within three games of the lead. The Rockies are in first, the Dodgers are a half game back and the Diamondbacks are just 2 games back from that. It’s an extremely close margin.
Well with all the talk about the NL West, people seem to be overlooking the NL Central. There are three teams with a legitimate shot at taking the division. If the season ended today, both National League wild card teams would come out of the NL Central with the third place St. Louis Cardinals (NL Central) holding a one-game lead over the second place LA Dodgers (NL West).
In other words, the stakes are different. The NL Central threesome is competing for a chance to skip the one-game wild card playoff. The NL West threesome is competing for an opportunity to play in the post-season at all. But with the unpredictability of baseball, isn’t that kind of the same thing? A free-pass into the division series is everything.
With that said, this week’s three-game series between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers is going to be an important one. The Brewers are just two games back from the division lead and are streaking of late, winning eight out of their last ten. The first-place Cubs are coming off back-to-back series losses and seem to be leveling out a bit.
This could be the perfect storm for the Brewers either closing the gap or maybe even taking control of the NL Central. The last time the squared off – only about a week ago – the Brewers took two out of three but 19-10 thanks to an 11-1 blow-out in game two. Both the Cubs and the Brewers play much better at home, giving the Cubs a slight edge in this series, which will be played in Chicago. It could really go either way and that’s what makes it so intriguing.
Boston Red Sox (98-46) ---
New York Yankees (89-54) ---
Houston Astros (89-54) ---
Oakland Athletics (87-57) ---
Chicago Cubs (83-59) ---
Milwaukee Brewers (82-62) +1
Cleveland Indians (81-62) - 1
Seattle Mariners (79-64) ---
Atlanta Braves (79-64) ---
St. Louis Cardinals (79-64) ---
Colorado Rockies (78-64) +1
Tampa Bay Rays (78-64) +2
Los Angeles Dodgers (78-65) - 1
Arizona Diamondbacks (76-67) - 1
Philadelphia Phillies (74-68) ---
Pittsburgh Pirates (71-71) +2
Washington Nationals (71-72) - 1
Los Angeles Angels (71-72) +1
San Francisco Giants (68-76) - 2
Minnesota Twins (65-77) ---
New York Mets (65-77) +1
Toronto Blue Jays (65-78) - 1
Texas Rangers (61-82) ---
Cincinnati Reds (61-83) ---
Detroit Tigers (59-84) +1
Miami Marlins (56-86) +1
San Diego Padres (57-88) +1
Chicago White Sox (56-87) - 3
Kansas City Royals (47-95) ---
Baltimore Orioles (41-102) ---
**No team can move more than 4 spots from week-to-week.