Hunt For October: Week 1
As the regular season in Major League Baseball comes to a close, there are still a lot of intriguing storylines and playoff spots to be secured.
First, the American League playoff spots are almost all locked up. The Boston Red Sox have run away with the American League East crown with a record of 106-51. The American League Central crown has been secured by the Cleveland Indians, who currently have a record of 88-69. As for the American League West, the defending champion Houston Astros have clinched the No. 1 spot with a current record of 100-57.
Both the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics have clinched the two spots in the American League Wildcard game, with the Yankees currently holding on to the top spot. The Yankees, with a 97-60 record, are just 2.5 games above the 95-63 Athletics for home-field advantage in the wildcard game. With both teams having more than four games left to play in the season, the Athletics still have a chance at passing the Yankees for the top wildcard spot. This matchup should prove to be an interesting one, as both teams have two of the MLB’s best offenses and bullpens.
The Yankees are second in the league in runs scored, while the Athletics are third. Oakland, led by Blake Treinen, has the slight edge over New York in bullpen ERA. Due to how close this matchup is, it looks like it's going to come down to starting pitching and who has the home-field advantage. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how these two teams finish the season while planning for this one-game wildcard matchup.
The Yankees have been one of the best teams in all of baseball this year, but they’ve still been playing in the shadow of the Boston Red Sox this season. At 106-51, Boston has had a historic offensive season. Led by American League MVP front-runners Mookie Betts and J.D Martinez, the Red Sox have been scoring runs at will. But with strong teams like the Indians, Yankees, Athletics and Astros all targeting the Red Sox, it begs the question: Can anyone take down Boston this year?
The Astros are the defending World Series champions and return an even more dangerous roster than last year. Meanwhile, the Yankees have been hitting home runs at a historic pace, setting the team record for homeruns with 255 and counting. The Indians starting pitching rotation made history this year as they were the first team in MLB history to have four different pitchers record 200 strikeouts in the same season. Lastly, the Athletics came into the regular season with one of the lowest payrolls in the league but have the best record in the MLB since the All-Star break with 40 wins and 21 losses. Of course, the Red Sox are the clear favorite to make it to the World Series out of the American League, but their path to get there will be anything but smooth.
Meanwhile, as the National League Playoff Race draws to a close, the Atlanta Braves are the champions of the East while the Central and West divisions have yet to be decided. The Chicago Cubs hold a half-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers, but the St. Louis Cardinals remain only 4.5 behind as they finish off their season with series’ against both teams. In the West, it’s a half-game gap between the leading Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies. One of these five teams will be left out in the wildcard race, and it all comes down to how the final five games swing. At the moment, that team looks to be the Cardinals. After their red-hot August, they’ve slowed down in September and require some big wins over their division foes to make it to October. The Cubs will have a chance to hold onto their top spot when the Cardinals come to town in the last three games of the season. The Brewers, however, control their own fate at home vs. the 64-93 Detroit Tigers.
It should be interesting to see how the regular season ends in Major League Baseball and how well the playoff teams matchup.
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