Teams that are battling in a playoff race absolutely have to take advantage when they are playing bad teams. It is just a must at this point in the season and that didn’t happen this week. Arizona swept Philadelphia, Kansas City took three of four from Houston, and Pittsburgh took two of three from St. Louis. This week should be an eye opener for the teams fighting to get into the playoffs. We on the outside like to talk about teams purposely losing and tanking to get better draft picks. While management might set up teams for failure, the players and coaches don’t look at it that way. They are going to fight every single day to win a baseball game. So if these teams think they can just walk in and beat up a bottom tier team, they need a reality check. Every single game is important now and teams need to realize that and treat every game as important. The playoff race is hot and there isn’t much margin for error. With just six weeks left, let’s take a look where all these teams stand.
- San Francisco Giants (80-44) —
Business as usual for the Giants. Series wins over the Mets and A’s kept them moving forward but they did need some late game heroics in the series in Oakland. They had to place Anthony DeSclafani on the IL which weakens their rotation a little bit. A trip out east is up next as they visit Queens before heading to a surging Atlanta ball club.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (78-47) —
The Dodgers almost had a perfect week but dropped Sunday’s game to the Mets. Still a 6-1 week helped them pick up some ground in the division and they are capitalizing on a weak spot in their schedule. They take on a struggling San Diego squad for three before hosting the Rockies for three. It sucks that either this team or the Giants will have to play a one game playoff but that should make for some exciting baseball in October.
- Tampa Bay Rays (77-48) +1
The Rays are rolling offensively right now. Yeah sure, four of their games this week were against Baltimore but they also scored runs against a formidable White Sox staff. 56 runs in a seven game stretch is impressive no matter how you look at it. Wander Franco seems to have figured it out and that has sparked the bats. Two games in Philadelphia will be followed by three in Baltimore this week so things are shaping up nicely for them to be the top team in the American League heading into the final month.
- Milwaukee Brewers (76-49) +1
Another World Series contender, another winning week. They were able to bury the Cardinals in the division race taking two of three in St. Louis before taking two of three against Washington. The pitching staff is without a doubt the strength of this team but the great news is Christian Yelich had a great weekend. If he can get back to being the MVP that he was a couple years ago, this team will be as dangerous as any in October.
- Houston Astros (73-52) -2
The Astros got to flex their muscle and show that they are still the team to beat in the AL West taking two of three from Seattle over the weekend in dominant fashion. However before that they lost three of four to Kansas City. Consistency seems to be the biggest threat to the Astros. However they have let both Oakland and Seattle hang around in the division and they are missing opportunities to really bury the competition in the race for the AL West.
- New York Yankees (73-52) +3
Ladies and gentlemen this is the hottest team in baseball. The Yankees are clicking on all cylinders and that should terrify the American League. They are 18-4 in August and that is without Anthony Rizzo for a good chunk of the month. They have won 10 straight and might push Tampa Bay for the division. A four game set in Oakland this weekend will draw a lot of eyes from other Wild Card contenders.
- Chicago White Sox (72-54) —
A common theme for the White Sox this season is that they beat up on the lower level teams but struggle with teams above .500. They went 4-3 against Oakland and Tampa Bay this week moving them to 27-32 against teams with a winning record. This week they have four games against another winning team in Toronto before they take on their crosstown rivals for three. This team will be in the playoffs, but now I am starting to doubt my prediction that they will win the American League.
- Oakland A’s (70-56) -2
Oakland might have had the worst week out of every playoff contender. They couldn’t capitalize on Houston’s struggles as they went 2-5 against the White Sox and Giants. They also lost Cy Young contender Chris Bassitt to a horrific injury and we do wish Bassitt a speedy recovery. Things are falling out of place and now they have the Mariners breathing down their neck in the division and Wild Card races. Two with Seattle and then four with the Yankees do not make life easier in Oakland.
- Atlanta Braves (68-57) +5
The Braves have won nine straight and now have a solid division lead in the NL East. This was the run we were expecting and they are doing it without Ronald Acuna Jr. Atlanta didn’t make any massive moves but the small moves they did make are paying off with Jorge Soler and Richard Rodriguez turning this season around. Two games with the Yankees and then three with the Giants will test them and see how legit they can be against playoff caliber teams rather than the Nationals, Marlins and Orioles.
- Cincinnati Reds (69-57) +3
The Reds have taken over the second Wild Card spot from San Diego. A four game sweep of Miami helped them recover from a series loss to Chicago. We have talked about Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker and Luis Castillo but it is time to give some love to Jonathan India. A .276 average with 16 homers and 56 RBIs has him right in the conversation for the NL Rookie of the Year.
- Boston Red Sox (71-55) -3
Being swept by the Yankees just added insult to injury for Boston. They are trending in the wrong direction and have fallen behind the Yankees in the division and are neck and neck with Oakland for the second Wild Card. The rotation is still just not good enough to compete with the upper tier American League teams. It looks like they missed the opportunity to add starting pitching and it is going to cost them.
- Seattle Mariners (68-58) —
The Mariners were absolutely embarrassed and dominated in the first two games of their series with Houston. However they had another come from behind victory in Sunday’s finale and that coupled with a sweep of Texas gave them a winning week. Losing Diego Castillo is a blow to a solid bullpen. The Kendall Graveman trade however no longer looks as bad. Abraham Toro has been spectacular for the M’s, hitting .323/.473/.879 in 25 games with Seattle. Two games in Oakland before hosting Kansas City for four gives them an opportunity to keep closing the gap in the Wild Card race.
- Toronto Blue Jays (65-58) -2
This feels like the first team to drop out of the race down the stretch. The offense that had been one of the best in baseball all season has gone ice cold, scoring just seven runs in a series loss to Detroit. George Springer is once again injured and the rotation, while good, is not deep enough to pitch this team into the playoffs. The offense needs to get going now.
- San Diego Padres (68-58) -4
Remember when everyone thought we would get a Padres-Dodgers playoff series? Funny how things change. San Diego is now on the outside looking in after going 1-5 against Colorado and Philadelphia. Not having Yu Darvish healthy seems to be killing them as they don’t have that stopper to get everything back on track. They do take on the Dodgers in a three game set this week. A series win there could completely flip the script and get this team back rolling. That’s a big if though.
- Philadelphia Phillies (63-61) —
Getting swept by Arizona while Atlanta is on a tear is an absolute killer for the Phillies. They were in solid shape before Atlanta got rolling but I wouldn’t worry too much about Philadelphia. The schedule is pretty weak the rest of the way but with only have three games left against Atlanta they can’t fall further behind. They need to take care of business for that late September series to mean something.
- St. Louis Cardinals (63-60) —
Losing two out of three to Milwaukee is tough but following it up losing two of three to Pittsburgh is what can kill a playoff push. The pitching gave them a shot to win those games against Pittsburgh but the offense fell flat. They have struggled against NL Central teams this season and that is not ideal. They have another crack in a four game set with the Pirates this weekend after taking on the Tigers for two. This team can’t afford any more slip ups.
- Cleveland Indians (61-61) +2
Sweeping the Angels in Williamsport on Sunday night got Cleveland back to .500 as they protect second place in the AL Central. This team isn’t going to the playoffs but holding second place with all the injuries they have had would help when looking back on the season. The rotation, when healthy, is among the best in the game and can mask a weak offense. They do need to strengthen the offense this offseason to compete with Chicago. Cleveland has a chance to play spoiler this weekend when they host Boston for three.
- Los Angeles Angels (62-64) —
The Angels swept Detroit and seemed to have momentum on their side. That was quickly extinguished by Cleveland. Many believed the Angels could win the division and surprise the league. Instead, they sit in 4th place behind three teams that are contending for the playoffs. This division is loaded for the future and if the Angels want to compete, they need to go all in on starting pitching.
- New York Mets (61-63) -2
Well the absolutely brutal stretch for the Mets is almost over. They have three games left against the Giants before hosting Washington. They are 2-8 in this stretch of games against the Giants and Dodgers. Most teams would struggle to find success in a stretch like this and it just hit the Mets at the wrong time. They have fallen behind in the division so if they can manage to take the series with the Giants, that could be a springboard to retaking the division lead.
- Detroit Tigers (60-66) —
I have said that the Tigers are not a team that contenders should want to see on the schedule down the stretch. They have now in August taken two of three from Boston and Toronto. They are just too pesky to feel comfortable against. Also, it was special to see Miguel Cabrera hit home run number 500 over the weekend. One of the greatest right handed hitters of all time. We need to enjoy guys like this in their prime because they are gone before you know it.
- Colorado Rockies (57-68) +2
The Rockies continue to just be a baffling ball club. They went 5-1 at home this week sweeping San Diego and taking two of three from Arizona to move their record at home to 43-22. That is the third best home record in baseball. Now they will hit the road to take on the Cubs and Dodgers this week. Away from Coors Field they are 14-46 which is the worst road record in baseball. That is just a wild home/road split.
- Washington Nationals (53-70) +2
A winning week for the Nationals is the most positive thing we’ve seen from them since the deadline. Dealing a big blow to Toronto’s playoff chances seem to be the biggest effect they will have on the playoff picture this season. They do have a chance to maybe bury the Mets in the division when they travel to Queens this weekend.
- Kansas City Royals (56-68) +2
The Royals have entered another hot stretch of baseball. They have had multiple great runs throughout the season with this week being one of them. They took three of four from Houston and swept the Cubs at Wrigley Field. But when they aren’t hot, they are really bad. They now visit Houston for three and Seattle for four which will probably bring this hot stretch to a screeching halt.
- Minnesota Twins (54-70) -3
The Twins were playing extremely well until they got dominated by the Yankees. The fourth game of that series was postponed so maybe there is still a tiny bit of momentum with this team. This was supposed to be an AL pennant contender but now sit in last place in the AL Central which is not a strong division. They take on two more playoff contenders this week with games against Boston and Milwaukee.
- Miami Marlins (51-74) -3
Going 0-7 in a week is miserable no matter where your team is in the standings. Nothing worked for the Marlins this week and when the pitching is off, this team just won’t win many games. Again, this rotation is going to be very good for years to come. They need to get some sort of offense however if they want to compete.
- Chicago Cubs (55-72) —
The Cubs managed to win a series over a playoff contender when they took two of three from Cincinnati. Sure they followed that up by being swept by Kansas City but neither of them are going to come near the playoffs. Chicago lost twelve straight before beating Cincinnati and that is just how the rest of the year is going to go. They would love to take out their crosstown rivals this weekend, but I wouldn’t hold my breath Cubs fans.
- Pittsburgh Pirates (45-80) +1
Pittsburgh also enjoyed being a little bit of a spoiler by taking two of three from the Cardinals. But let’s talk about Bryan Reynolds. He is having a special season. This is just his third season and he’s on pace to hit over .300 for the second time in a season to go along with 21 home runs and 74 RBIs. He is among the most underrated players in baseball.
- Arizona Diamondbacks (42-84) +1
How about the Diamondbacks? They went 4-2 including a sweep of the Phillies! That may be bad news for the fans that were hoping to snag the top pick. I am anti tanking though so it brings me joy to see this team still fighting. An east coast road trip to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia awaits this week for a team of young guys who seem to be very hungry.
- Texas Rangers (43-81) -2
The Rangers were another bottom tier team with a chance to play spoiler this week. Instead they were swept by Seattle and lost two of three to Boston. Like I talked about with the Angels, the AL West is going to be stacked for a few years with Houston, Oakland, and Seattle all loaded to compete for division titles so this rebuild will be rough for Texas. Adolis Garcia has played himself out of the top spot for AL Rookie of the Year and it wouldn’t surprise me if he is wearing a different jersey next season.
- Baltimore Orioles (38-85) —
These are the third straight power rankings that I have written where the number in the win column hasn’t changed for the Orioles. Yes, that is not a good thing. That is 18 straight losses. The American League record is 21 losses in a row set by…the infamous 1988 Baltimore Orioles. You just can’t make this stuff up.
Matthew graduated in 2019 from Washington State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication with a specialization in Media and Journalism Production. He currently is a broadcaster and writer at Eli Sports Network. Baseball and football are his specialties but Matt covers anything he can. Follow him on Twitter @matt_king19