Standings as of September 26, 2017 1pm
Last Week of the MLB Regular Season
Questions that have already been answered:
–Who will win the AL Central, AL West, NL East, and NL West?
Questions that still need answers:
-Who will win the American League East Division?
-Who will win the National League Central Division?
-Who will be playing in the two Wild Card games?
AL Central Division
The Cleveland Indians continue to prove they’re the best team in baseball, at least at this point in time. In the midst of what ended up being a remarkable and record-shattering 22 game win streak, it seemed as if they’d never lose another game; it was the longest streak we’ve seen in baseball since the 2002 Oakland A’s. Even after finally losing a game, they easily regrouped, and have now won a few games in a row to start a new streak that they hope to keep up through the final week of the season in order to ensure they have the best regular season record.
As we all know, the regular season record means nothing in postseason play, but don’t expect Cleveland to play any worse than they have been. Look for them to be a powerhouse in this year’s postseason. They have the potential and depth to go all the way this year.
AL West Division
With only three fewer wins than the Indians, and four fewer than the Dodgers, you could argue that Houston might be the best team in baseball this season. Much like the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox team, the Astros are using baseball as a vehicle for recovery from a tragedy that devastated their community, and their winning is helping to heal the community as they come together for a greater goal.
Going out and getting Justin Verlander has also been huge for this club. His presence in the starting rotation takes pressure and higher expectation away from Dallas Keuchel, and allows back-end of the rotation guys like Brad Peacock and Charlie Morton to perform well without the team relying on them in do-or-die situations. Pairing this rotation with an explosive, energetic, youthful lineup that plays well on both sides of the ball is a dangerous mix for whoever has to face off with them in the postseason.
NL East Division
Washington has had an incredible season that has sort of been overlooked due to the fact that there are three teams with more wins than they have. With a two-game win streak, and wins in 5 of their last 7, the Nats have picked a perfect time to start streaking. Bryce Harper has been out since August 12th, but the team has come out and said that he could return to the lineup tonight. Getting a guy like him back at a time when things are already going great is huge, because Harper can come back into things with no pressure on him. This allows him a week or so to get his timing back and be ready for the playoffs, when the Nats would look to him to help the team finally make that extra push to make it to the World Series. Another team with a solid lineup supporting a solid pitching staff, this team has the ability to do damage to whomever they face in the Postseason.
NL West Division
Despite an incredible season from the DBacks in the dessert, the Dodgers have entirely run away with the division this year. They’ve been one step ahead of everyone else all season long. With a record-breaking first half of the season, they set themselves up to still potentially have the best regular season record despite a bit of a cold streak in the second half. With 5 games remaining in the regular season, they look to hold onto the league’s best regular season record heading into the postseason.
They Dodgers have one of the most powerful rotations, led by Kershaw, Darvish, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, and Kenta Maeda, so they should have no issues shutting down other teams’ offensive threats. But their lineup also has the ability to do equal damage on the other side of the ball. They can throw up 4-5 runs early and shut you down, making a comeback seem impossible. Is this FINALLY the year of the Dodgers?
AL East Division
It’s both shocking and completely unsurprising that the Red Sox have neither locked this down nor completely surrendered the title to the Yankees. They’re more inconsistent than a high school relationship, and we honestly have no idea what will happen this week.
The Boston Red Sox have just six regular season games remaining, as do their dreaded rivals from the Bronx. But this year is not going to be like 2011…the worst September skid baseball has ever seen, though I hate to admit it. With Porcello facing the Blue Jays tonight and four games against Houston to close out the season – likely without Chris Sale in that series to prevent a possible first round matchup from seeing his stuff – there is always the chance of the Yanks sneaking in and taking the division from them. Three against Tampa and three against Toronto are the only things standing in their way, and the Red Sox falling to Toronto two nights in a row is only helping their case. This division is going to come down to the final two or three games, which is exactly what we all hoped for.
The Yankees have already popped champagne to celebrate winning the Wild Card slot (and as of last night, home field advantage for the wild card game), because they’re pathetic without Torre and Jeter at the helm. Despite the Yanks great season, and breakout rookie season for 50 homeruns-hitting Aaron Judge, David Ortiz said it best on his Twitter the other day, “that’s impressive stuff. My Sox still rollin tho!!”
NL Central Division
The Cubs are on a short win streak at the best time possible. A team that has already proven they can do damage in October (and after a million years, November) is getting hot when it matters most. Milwaukee is six games behind the Cubbies with only six games remaining, and a miracle seems highly unlikely. And then the question is raised, can the Cubs be the first team to repeat as World Series Champions, since the Yanks did it back to back…to back, in ’98, ’99, ’00?
AL Wild Card Game
The Yankees have clinched a Postseason berth, and, assuming there’s not another late September slide in Boston, they’ll be playing in the Wild Card game in the Bronx. But their opponent remains to be identified. The Twins are staying hot and are in the midst of a late four-game win streak and have a five game lead on the (Anaheim) Angels of Los Angeles.
In my first article, I predicted that the Rangers would get hot while the Twins seemed to be slipping. And about a day after my article was posted, the opposite became true. Texas has fallen to six games back for the final Wild Card spot and only have six games remaining. The Angels have fallen to five games back, and barring a miracle, Minnesota has a chance to take on the Yankees in the Bronx for the last spot in the AL Postseason. I stand corrected, and holy shit will I be pulling for them to bounce the Yankees asses early.
NL Wild Card Game
This is where it gets pretty tricky. With Arizona having clinched Wild Card berth already, only one Wild Cart spot is left, and three teams now have a legitimate chance at it. Originally, a team I counted out this season, has found a way, like they have time and time again, to be incredibly successful when the playoffs come around. Led by the best catcher in baseball, Yadi and his squad are only two-and-a-half back with six games left to play. Meanwhile, my sleeper pick from last week’s article, Milwaukee, is still a game and a half back from the team who would be playing in the Wild Card game if the season ended today. The Colorado Rockies, a team who kind of got overlooked all year, are playing unreal baseball. And I love their pitching staff; some young talent that will strengthen for years to come. But with MVP-caliber season’s from Arenado AND Blackmon, plus guys like DJ LeMahieu, Jonathan Lucroy, and Gerrado Parra who are all hitting above .300, guys like Ian Desmond, Mark Reynolds, Cargo, and Trevor Story get overlooked…which is bananas. This lineup is DEEP and can do HEAVY damage. I feel as though I have to stick with my prediction for now and stay behind the Brew Crew against the DBacks in the desert Wild Card game. BUT, I would not be opposed to seeing the Colorado lineup in that game by any means. I can’t wait to see which team of the three emerges as the front runner for the final spot in the Wild Card game.
Stay tuned for my next article on October 2nd, to recap the last day of the regular season and preparation for the beginning of this year’s MLB Postseason.
– Mikey T