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With just over a month left to go, things are finally starting to fall into place. Baltimore has officially been eliminated, and Pittsburgh could still win their division, if they win their last 32 and Cincinnati loses their last 32. The Yankees were the first team to 80 wins, but were joined hours later by the Rays. That leaves Boston 6.5 games out, with an elimination number of 26. If they’re not careful, Toronto will finish better. Even Baltimore could still mathematically do it. After being so close for so long, the Reds are 5.0 games ahead of the Cardinals, with Joey Votto and Albert Pujols competing for the Triple Crown. With waiver-wire trades coming to a close and the rosters about to expand to 40, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Monday, August 30, before the day’s games:
This one is not a clear victory; the Padres have lost their last four and the Phillies have won their last three. The Padres were swept by Philadelphia in three games (including a shutout Sunday) and lost to Arizona before that. With the injuries to Philadelphia over, and Oswalt in the mix, I’d say Philadelphia has an excellent chance to advance.
Atlanta has won their last two, and in doing so, has managed to tie the Reds at 75-55. Atlanta won the season series 3-2, so they get home-field advantage. They’ll need it, and they have the best home record in baseball (46-18). That, and they’ll definitely need to keep Joey Votto in check.
All of a sudden, Cliff Lee isn’t an advantage. Texas needs to hope that Tampa has given themselves false hope and confidence by beating the Red Sox’ abhorrent pitching. Big deal; little leaguers could do it at this point.
C.C. Sabathia was roughed up in his last victory, A.J. Burnett has been shaky, and Andy Pettitte’s performance once he returns from the DL in two weeks remains to be seen. With home-field advantage in a pitchers’ park, Minnesota needs their staff to utilize its familiarity with said park to jump all over the Yankees and tax their rotation.