|Brewers and Cardinals two of many teams still alive|
It is very possible that we are about to experience one of the greatest stretch runs in MLB history during the month of September, which begins in just three weeks.
A quick glance around the standings in Major League Baseball on Thursday morning, August 10, shows that three of the division races are already virtually over.
The Washington Nationals have a 14-game lead in the National League East Division. In the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers hold a 15.5-game lead. Over the in the American League, the Houston Astros are 13 games up.
With half of the divisional races settled, some might think that it was actually shaping up to be a boring end to the regular season. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you examine the Wildcard races, particularly in the American League, things really look interesting.
The Red Sox and Indians lead the AL East and Central respectively. Each holds a four-game lead, and both clubs appear to be deeper and more talented across their rosters than their nearest pursuers.
The defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs are on top of the NL Central. However, this is the one race that is remains extremely tight. The Milwaukee Brewers and Saint Louis Cardinals are just 1.5 games behind, and the Pittsburgh Pirates sit just 3.5 games out.
The Cards are the hot team right now. They’ve won five straight, and have gone 25-16 since falling seven games below .500 on June 24.
“There were too many guys in this clubhouse who weren’t performing to their career norms,” first baseman Matt Carpenter said following an 8-5 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night per Derrick Goold of the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.
“When you have that many guys underachieving individually and collectively, that’s not where we want to be. You’ve got to believe eventually that’s going to change. It looks like it’s happening all at the same time. Which has a chance to be special.”
Wild Wildcard races
In the National League Wildcard race, Arizona and Colorado have appeared headed for a one-game October showdown for some time now. However, if either should stumble, both the Brewers and Cardinals sit just 6.5 games behind.
The Dbacks and Rockies will put on their own possible playoff preview next month. The two rivals, who have evenly split a dozen head-to-head matchups already, will meet seven times in September.
The real insanity comes courtesy of the American League Wildcard race. The New York Yankees control the top spot, sitting 3.5 games up. The Seattle Mariners have won 10 of their last 15 game to take over the second spot.
On the outside looking in for now are the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays, but each are just a game behind Seattle. The Minnesota Twins are just 1.5 games back. Sitting two out are the Los Angeles Angels, while the Baltimore Orioles are only 2.5 games behind the Mariners.
Even the Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, and Detroit Tigers remain alive. While they have a number of teams in front of them, the trio sits just three, four, and five games out in the loss column respectively.
The situation makes for a lot of scoreboard watching. “It’s a lot more fun than not playing scoreboard, because then then you’re out of it,” said Rays’ first baseman Logan Morrison per Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Bay Times.
These next three weeks during the season’s “Dog Days” of August will almost certainly weed out a few of these AL clubs. But do any of them look good enough to run away from the pack? Not to me.
That AL Wildcard battle is the real show to watch. Five teams right now within 2.5 games of the final playoff spot. It is shaping up to be a truly wild September across much of Major League Baseball.