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We’re in the middle of August, and the NL race is still close, despite the divisions opening up a bit. Oakland and Anaheim continue to hold sway in the AL, but look out for Baltimore and Kansas City all of a sudden. Detroit and San Francisco are among the better teams falling off, while the likes of Pittsburgh are working their way up. The waiver wire could also provide some interesting roster moves in the final month and a half, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, August 12, before the day’s games:
It’s been tough for the Dodgers, but they’re still on top of the NL. San Francisco’s four-game losing streak has given L.A. some breathing room, though Hanley Ramirez is now out with oblique problems. Given that he’s the fifth Dodger this August to go on the DL, health is rapidly becoming a problem for the Dodgers. They have plenty of talent left to move on, though injuries are making that more and more difficult.
Milwaukee has a 2.5-game lead in the NL Central, which is pretty good with Pittsburgh and St Louis having been on their tails for some time. Despite dropping two of three in Atlanta, Washington is still 4.0 games ahead in the NL East. Milwaukee has some good pitching, but Washington has some pretty good bats which will need to be kept down, especially if Matt Garza doesn’t get back to full health for Milwaukee.
These two are neck-and-neck to see who hosts the Wildcard game, with San Francisco right behind. However, Andrew McCutchen is out for Pittsburgh with a rib fracture, so he will be out for a bit. At the same time, St Louis has the best pitcher to use in a sudden death game in Adam Wainwright. Out their best player, Pittsburgh’s chances just got that much worse.
Despite losing their last two games, Oakland is still 3.5 games ahead of everyone else in the majors. Even after trading away Yoenis Cespedes, the Athletics still have plenty of offense to go around, and have one of the better rotations in the game.
With the Tigers struggling, Kansas City has now pulled ahead in the AL Central. The Royals are also winners of eight straight and 11 of 12. Baltimore is getting closer to overtaking Anaheim as the second-best team in the majors, but no team has been playing better than the Royals right now. And with a few minor injuries to the left side of their infield, any sign of weakness would cost the Orioles here.
Despite going 1-5 in their last six against the Dodgers and Red Sox, the Angels still have a lot of power and ability. The ability to win any particular game helps in a sudden death situation. Though nothing has been diagnosed yet, Justin Verlander’s mysterious shoulder soreness would definitely be a big morale blow for Detroit when a big game is needed right away, especially if it lingers.
Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB Playoffs, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals