|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
A month and a half remain in the season, and it’s a good race. Both leagues have new leaders. Four divisions are within 3.5 games. Winning and losing streaks are shaking things up. The questions now is whether or not all this will paint a new postseason picture, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, August 19, before the day’s games:
With seven straight wins, the Nationals are now in the NL’s driver’s seat. Five of those seven games have been one-run victories, so we know the Nationals can handle the pressure. The Nats are a well-built, all-around team, and being able to send out Stephen Strasburg against a battle-weary wildcard team also helps.
The Brewers just finished a sweep in Los Angeles, including a win over Clayton Kershaw and getting to the bullpen behind just five innings (scoreless, though) from Zack Greinke. Dan Haren gave up six runs in just three innings of work. If Milwaukee can do that to LA’s pitching again, it could be a highly disappointing series for the Dodgers, especially with a lights-out closer looming in Milwaukee’s pen.
Two wins over Philadelphia have let San Francisco keep pace, though St Louis beat divisional rival Cincinnati (who is hoping to claw back into Wildcard contention) Monday to kick off the week. San Francisco has the pieces in place, especially after early in the season, but consistency has been difficult to come by for the Giants, and could cost them against a team that could definitely get back to the World Series.
The Angels, thanks to a slump by Oakland, have finally pushed their way into the best record in the majors. With Oakland an Anaheim having separated themselves from the rest of the pack for some time now, Anaheim is in a good position to cement themselves and claim a definitive edge over Oakland.
The Royals have cooled off just a little bit, but remain in a great position. With Manny Machado out for the Orioles, the team has begun experimenting with Chris Davis at 3rd base. Baltimore is only two games behind the Angels for best team in the league, so this could be one of the closest and most intriguing series. Look to see which offense can grind away at pitch counts and get to guys first.
Oakland has lost five straight and seven of eight, while Detroit has lost ground on Kansas City after a hit-or-miss week. Despite all this, Oakland is still half a game behind Anaheim while Detroit is still fighting just to be the Wildcard visitor. If neither team can make an impact compared to the other, Oakland would still be considered a favorite.
Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB Playoffs, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals