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In the middle of August, it’s still very difficult to be on top. Both Wildcard races are very tight, both led by just half a game. Although most of the division are led rather comfortably, the seeding is still very much up for grabs. Just getting into the back end of the playoffs uses up a lot of energy, as does the one-game Wildcard playoff. That makes getting up to #1 especially important for an easy first-round series, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, August 16 at 7:30pm:
Washington is continuing to do very well with their young talent. They still have plans to watch Stephen Strasburg’s inning count, though. It will be interesting to see how that plays into the playoffs, but as of now, the Nationals are in a great position.
The Reds have won five straight to reverse a losing streak just as bad. The Dodgers just moments before publishing ended their four-game winning streak in Pittsburgh. Both teams have been doing well recently, but the Dodgers have had to expend much more energy to overtake San Francisco, leaving the Reds in a better position.
The Braves have taken charge and locked themselves into the first Wildcard slot pretty nicely. The Pirates are now struggling to keep pace over the Cardinals, who have the home-field tiebreaker over Pittsburgh in the event a playoff game is needed for that spot. With Pittsburgh’s attention diverted by their .5-game lead over St. Louis they gained minutes ago, Atlanta is in a great position.
A successful series against Texas has New York in a great position for the #1 seed. A good mix of hitting and pitching, especially their power bats, has the Yankees back in their position as perennial contender.
As we’ve seen before this season, the Yankees are Texas‘ achilles heel in the AL; Texas has a winning record against every other AL team. Chicago has won two in a row (against Toronto), but Texas still has the noticeably better record and weapons.
Three straight wins have the Orioles in control of the Wildcard race, while Tampa Bay fell victim to another perfect game; Tampa has been by far the easiest team to no-hit in recent years. While Tampa has plenty of talent, this blow to morale and Baltimore’s momentum give the Os the edge.
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB Playoffs, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals