MLB playoff outlook

Matt McClain

Sports Blogger


It’s August, so that means the MLB playoff race is in full swing. The battle for division titles is heated, but don’t forget about the wild card. Eight teams in the American League are fighting for two wild card spots, and five teams are battling for the National League wild card spots. Here’s a more in-depth look at the playoff race.

AL Central

The Indians are on pace to bring home the crown in the AL Central. (Bill Bryan, Flickr)
The Indians are on pace to bring home the crown in the AL Central.
(Bill Bryan, Flickr)

Contenders: Cleveland Indians (72-53)

Pretenders: Detroit Tigers (68-59, 5 GB), Kansas City Royals (65-61, 7.5 GB), Chicago White Sox (60-65, 12 GB), Minnesota Twins (49-78, 24 GB)

Division Outlook: Cleveland should win this division easily. The closest team to them is Detroit, and they are severely injured. Kansas City has been hot as of late. The Royals have won eight games in a row, and have won 11 of their last 12 games. However, the Indians have kept distance between themselves and the field. Cleveland has had the seventh-best pitching staff in terms of ERA this season. The Indians’ pitching will be too much to overcome.

AL East

Contenders: Toronto Blue Jays (71-55), Boston Red Sox (71-56, .5 GB), Baltimore Orioles (70-56, 1 GB)

Pretenders: New York Yankees (65-61, 6 GB), Tampa Bay Rays (54-72, 17 GB)

Division Outlook: It’s a three-horse race for the division title. Boston has been the best team from the start, but Toronto and Baltimore have crept up on the Red Sox. The Orioles have been slugging the ball out of hitter-friendly Camden Yards, and the Blue Jays have pitched their way to success. No one will be able to catch the league leaders in average out of Boston. This division will have at least two, maybe three teams in the postseason. Toronto and Baltimore currently occupy the two AL wild card spots.

AL West

Contenders: Texas Rangers (74-53), Seattle Mariners (67-59, 6.5 GB)

Pretenders: Houston Astros (66-61, 8 GB), Oakland Athletics (55-72, 19 GB), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (53-73, 20.5 GB)

Division Outlook: The Rangers are the favorites to win the division, but the Mariners are creeping up on the division leaders. The Rangers added some pop to their lineup at the trade deadline. Catcher Johnathan Lucroy and designated hitter Carlos Beltran have given Texas upgrades at those positions. The Mariners have been successful because of second baseman Robinson Cano, designated hitter Nelson Cruz and third baseman Kyle Seager. The trio will not be enough to lead the Mariners to a division crown, but Seattle is one game out of a wild card spot and could spoil the AL East party.

NL Central

Jake Arrieta and the Cubs have a comfy lead in the NL Central and look to carry their dominance into the postseason. (Scott U, Flickr)
Jake Arrieta and the Cubs have a comfy lead in the NL Central and look to carry their dominance into the postseason.
(Scott U, Flickr)

Contenders: Chicago Cubs (81-45), St. Louis Cardinals (67-58, 13.5 GB)

Pretenders: Pittsburgh Pirates (63-61, 17 GB), Milwaukee Brewers (56-70, 25 GB), Cincinnati Reds (54-72, 27 GB)

Division Outlook: The NL Central is a one-horse race. The Cubs have been aggressive in proving to everyone that they are no longer the Loveable Losers. The Cardinals are the closest to the Cubs, but won’t come to close to the astronomic record of the Northsiders. The Cubs lead the league in ERA, and are third in the league in strikeouts. Although the Cardinals likely won’t win the division, they are sitting in the second wild card spot in the NL, and lead the third-place Marlins by 1.5 games.

NL East

Contenders: Washington Nationals (73-53), Miami Marlins (66-60, 7 GB)

Pretenders: New York Mets (63-63, 10 GB), Philadelphia Phillies (59-68, 14.5 GB), Atlanta Braves (46-81, 27.5 GB)

Division Outlook: The Nationals have had one of the best pitching staffs this year. They have been second in the majors in ERA, strikeouts and WHIP. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg have led the way for the Washington staff. Strasburg, however, was recently placed on the disabled list with right elbow soreness. The Marlins likely won’t win the division, but they sit 3.5 games behind a wild card spot. Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton give Miami a good chance to make a run at October baseball.

NL West

Contenders: Los Angeles Dodgers (71-55), San Francisco Giants (68-58, 3 GB)

Pretenders: Colorado Rockies (60-67, 11.5 GB), San Diego Padres (53-74, 18.5 GB), Arizona Diamondbacks (53-74, 18.5 GB)

Division Outlook: The Dodgers lead a close race against rival Giants. With three games separating them, the division race will come down to the final stretch of the season. It’s safe to say that whichever team does not win the division will play postseason baseball. The Giants sit in the first wild card position and hold a 1.5-game lead over the Cardinals. The Dodgers’ chances of winning the division improve tremendously when ace Clayton Kershaw returns from the 15-day DL. He is slated for an Aug. 27 return after a herniated disc sidelined him.

Editor’s note: stats as of 8 p.m. Aug. 25


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