C├ęspedes brings a powerful bat to Fenway Park...until he becomes a free agent after 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Flurry of trades leaves Red Sox in state of uncertainty Chicago White Sox v Boston Red Sox Red Sox Trade Andrew Miller for Top 100 Prospect Rodriguez Stephen Drew (Photo: Bill Kostroun) Red Sox Trade Stephen Drew to Yankees for Kelly Johnson Less than a season after pitching in the World Series clincher against the Cardinals, John Lackey has been traded from the Red Sox to St. Louis at the trade deadline in exchange for Allen Craig. (Boston Globe) MLB Trade Deadline: Red Sox Trade John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for Allen Craig

If the Playoffs Started Today – MLB Week 20

Tigers vs Braves: Week 20's prediction for the World Series

20 weeks into the season, plenty of races are still in play. By the same token, many other teams are running out of time. The AL playoff teams are logjammed at the top. The NL is a little more open, but the Reds are starting to make things interesting again in the NL Central. A lot’s been going on lately, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, August 20 at 7:05pm:

National League

#1 Atlanta Braves

The Braves are still sitting pretty in the NL. They have the best overall and home records in all the major leagues, which puts them in a very powerful positing going forward.

#2 Pittsburgh Pirates vs #3 Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have lost two in a row, which means the sky is falling relative to how they’ve been playing lately. Even if that were alarming for the Dodgers, the Pirates aren’t in a position to take advantage. They’re losing ground in the NL Central, and have virtually no more room for error. The Dodgers still hold an edge here.

#W1 St Louis Cardinals vs #W2 Cincinnati Reds

The Reds are slowly making their way back up the rankings, and it would be going faster if the Cardinals hadn’t won their last three. If the Reds can’t make any definitive attempts at the first Wildcard slot and the division, then they can’t take over the advantage from the Cardinals.

American League

#1 Detroit Tigers

The Tigers haven’t been the best lately, but they’ve still been good enough to maintain their hold on #1. Even during down times, they’re difficult to beat, so if they get going again, look out.

#2 Boston Red Sox vs #3 Texas Rangers

Boston is trying to work their way through a rough patch of their own right now, and their lead in the AL East is down to a single game. They’ll need their health to return to championship form, which should come soon enough. Until then, though, the Rangers are too dangerous, especially when they’re protecting a half-game division lead of their own.

#W1 Tampa Bay Rays vs #W2 Oakland Athletics

The Rays are looking to regain their top form, while Oakland is nipping at Texas’ heels. With both teams so close, it’s anyone’s game right now. But with what Tampa’s top pitchers are capable of, Oakland is certainly in for a tough game in Tampa.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • The Rays could be in for a division lead with Boston on a difficult West Coast trip.

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