24 Weeks In: MLB: Power Rankings, Matchups, Highlights and more
The Boston Red Sox are in the midst of a late-season tailspin. Luckily, the New York Yankees have played just as poorly and the gap has remained the same through the first few days of September. Boston sits 8.5 games ahead of the second-place Yankees as the best team in all of baseball.
Still, there are concerns. You simply can’t feel good about splitting a series with the abysmal – albeit streaking – Chicago White Sox. That said, this week’s Red Sox vs. Braves series is a potential World Series preview, and winning game one 8-2 feels pretty good. It feels even better to pull that off with what was effectively a bullpen game. Nathan Eovaldi started the game but only went 3.1 innings. By the end of the game, Boston had used eight pitchers without anyone going more than an inning. Only Joe Kelly and Ryan Brasier gave up a run, one a piece, and that’s pretty damn good when facing one of the best teams in the National League.
Let’s get to some highlights!
Top Three Plays
Seriously, Watch Out for the Brewers.
Tight Race in the NL West.
Brew Crew Making Waves Late.
What To Watch
There wasn’t much movement in the power rankings this week, but that in no way implies a lack of excitement around the league. While the bigger division gaps are still big, the close races are as close as ever, and time is running out on the regular season.
As we enter September, the National League Wild Card picture is as fuzzy as ever. In the American League, it seems fairly certain that the Red Sox, Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics will all reach the postseason with some potential shuffling of the pecking order within the Al East and AL West.
But the National League is a complete mystery.
If the season ended today, the Atlanta Braves, Chicago cubs and Colorado Rockies would win their respective divisions, with the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals playing in the wild card game; both out of the NL Central. But that picture could look completely different by tomorrow.
Let’s take the NL West for example. The top three teams in the division are sitting within 1.5 games of each other with plenty of head-to-head matchups on the horizon. The Rockies kick off a three-game series against the Dodgers on Friday, followed by a four-game series against the Diamondbacks next Monday.
The way the standings are now, you’ll likely need to win the division in order to get into the playoffs at all, and the razor-close margin only adds to the pressure. Essentially, this is a playoff simulation in the middle of September and whoever emerges on top will likely have the competitive edge come October, as well. We’re in the midst of the playoff chase and this promises to be an amazing month of baseball. Don’t blink.
Boston Red Sox (95-44) ---
New York Yankees (86-52) ---
Houston Astros (85-53) ---
Oakland Athletics (83-56) ---
Chicago Cubs (76-53) ---
Cleveland Indians (77-60) ---
Milwaukee Brewers (78-61) +4
Seattle Mariners (77-61) - 1
Atlanta Braves (76-61) - 1
St. Louis Cardinals (76-62) ---
Colorado Rockies (75-62) +1
Los Angeles Dodgers (75-63) +2
Arizona Diamondbacks (74-64) - 4
Tampa Bay Rays (74-63) +1
Philadelphia Phillies (72-65) - 2
Washington Nationals (69-69) ---
San Francisco Giants (68-71) ---
Pittsburgh Pirates (67-71) ---
Los Angeles Angels (67-71) ---
Minnesota Twins (63-74) ---
Toronto Blue Jays (62-75) ---
New York Mets (62-75) ---
Texas Rangers (60-78) ---
Cincinnati Reds (59-79) ---
Chicago White Sox (56-82) +2
Detroit Tigers (55-83) - 1
Miami Marlins (55-83) - 1
San Diego Padres (55-85) ---
Kansas City Royals (46-91) ---
Baltimore Orioles (40-98) ---
**No team can move more than 4 spots from week-to-week.