It’s already the second week in August and the MLB Postseason races are just heating up! We are getting to the point where teams start to get hot and go on legendary runs into and through the playoffs. There are technically no teams mathematically eliminated from the postseason but the Athletics are very close.
According to Fangraphs, 17 teams with decent-to-great odds to make the playoffs with the Braves as locks and Diamondbacks with long but not impossible odds. Summer is heating up and so is the race to the MLB Postseason! There are a few races to keep an eye on and stay up to date as we get going.
MLB Postseason Races to Watch as the Season Winds Down
While it may not be as weak as its AL counterpart, the NL Central has not quite lived up to expectations. However, it’s giving fantastic baseball down the stretch from a favorite and a couple of pleasant surprises.
To start, the Milwaukee Brewers lead the way thanks to their impressive 24-12 divisional record. However, they’ve not been able to pull away and fully take control and have let their two rivals stick around. Christian Yelich is back to playing to his level with a 131 OPS+ and slashing .290/.374/.469 with 16 HR and 64 RBI. Meanwhile, starters Wade Miley and Corbin Burnes have been dealing. It’s a foregone conclusion if the Brewers enter the ninth with a lead because Devin Williams aka the “Airbender” has been almost automatic. In 46 appearances, he’s registered 27 saves and a .970 WHIP.
The Chicago Cubs have been interesting. They looked buried in July but have taken advantage of a paltry stretch by the Brewers and Reds. What year is it? Yelich is playing well in Milwaukee and Cody Bellinger is having a great season as well. He’s slashing .327/.377/.550 with an OPS+ of 145. Since the All-Star Break, the Cubs are 17-9 thanks to a 10-game stretch where they went 8-2 with those eight consecutive wins.
Finally, the Cincinnati Reds. Nobody expected Cincinnati to be in this conversation but their young call-ups have catalyzed the offense and they’ve been able to overcome weak starting pitching. However, of late, the Reds have cooled off. Elly De La Cruz is struggling at the plate, Matt McLain is still solid, but, again, the starters have struggled. In August, they won one game out of nine. On the year, they won just three games against the Brewers. While this next stretch of games is “easier”, they have squandered opportunities of late and they have dropped a handful of winnable series.
The Brewers currently own a 2.5-game lead over the Cubs and Reds who are tied.
It’s not often we get to talk about the Yankees and Red Sox NOT competing for the AL East crown but this year is the year. Even then, every AL East team is sitting with a winning record and the Baltimore Orioles sit atop it all.
Who expected this? Most likely expected a solid season from the Orioles but not a near 100-win pace. They’re centered around youngsters Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson. It also helps that Felix Bautista has turned into a sure thing at the back end of the bullpen with 30 saves in 49 appearances. Baltimore has been playing fantastic baseball and was the first AL club to reach 70 wins.
Right behind them, however, are the Tampa Bay Rays. It was more of a given that the Rays would at least compete for the division because they’ve been one of the top clubs in all of baseball over the last few years. According to baseball-reference, the Rays have 11 pitchers who qualify to be sorted by ERA+ and they have a whopping eight pitchers who have an ERA+ over 100.
Right behind them are the Blue Jays who are back by 6.0 games. It’s likely a two-horse race but it cannot be discounted how incredibly competitive this division is.
NL Wild Card
For as good as the AL East is, the NL West is about as deep. With the Dodgers seemingly running away yet again with the division, the Giants and even the Diamondbacks could make it interesting.
The Phillies have been interesting of late. The front office went out and traded nothing for Michael Lorenzen and all he did to repay them was to go out there and throw a no-hitter. They’re lost in the sauce when it comes to the division, so they’ll have to keep it up for a Wild Card if they want to keep playing past the 162. Atlanta is taking that division and has some of the best MLB World Series odds among contenders.
The Marlins are getting hot and it helped that they ran into the Reds who have seemingly forgotten how to play baseball of late. Both the Reds and Cubs are vying for a division title. For as poor as the division has been playing as a whole, it’s very likely that the NL Central will send just one team to the MLB Postseason.