MLB playoff outlook: Cubs in full control

Andy Cheng

Sports Blogger

@Andy_Cheng12

 

American League

AL East contenders

Boston Red Sox 86-64

Toronto Blue Jays 82-68, 4 GB

Baltimore Orioles 82-68, 4 GB

New York Yankees 77-72, 8.5 GB

Finally, a team in the crowded AL East emerged above the rest. Winners of five straight, the Red Sox are building their lead over the Blue Jays and the Orioles behind potent bats and a shutdown bullpen. The AL postseason will most likely feature three teams from the east, with both the Blue Jays and the Orioles occupying both wild card spots with a 2.5 game lead. The Yankees entered the AL East race quickly and left even quicker. Since winning seven straight, the ‘new-look’ Yankees have now lost seven of its last eight.

AL Central contenders

Cleveland Indians 86-63

Detroit Tigers 79-70, 7.0 GB

Kansas City Royals 77-73, 9.5 GB

In what’s been a one-team race for much of the season, the Indians enjoy a comfortable seven-game lead in the AL Central with only 13 games left to play. With their playoff ticket already punched, the Indians are now aiming to capture home-field advantage when the postseason rolls around. Meanwhile, the second-place Tigers are aiming for the second wild card spot. The struggling Tigers are 2.5 games behind the wild card leaders.

AL West contenders

Texas Rangers 89-62

Houston Astros 79-71, 9.5 GB

Seattle Mariners 79-71, 9.5 GB

The Rangers are another team that’s practically wrapped up their division since early August in the AL West. The Rangers hold the best record in the AL at 89-62, and have a solid shot at having home-field advantage in every postseason series they participate in. While both the Astros and the Mariners have identical records, and relatively easy schedules for the remainder of the season, the two teams are trending in opposite directions. The Mariners are 7-3 in their last ten games, while the Astros are chugging along with their MVP candidate, second baseman Jose Altuve.

National League

NL East contenders

Washington Nationals 88-62

New York Mets 80-70, 8.0 GB

Miami Marlins 75-75, 13.0 GB

Despite losing three straight, the Nationals will likely clinch the NL East this coming week. Thanks to an eight-game lead, the Nationals will have the luxury to rest starting players and make sure the team is both mentally and physically ready for the postseason. The Mets, on the other hand, just can’t seem to catch a break. Starting pitcher Jacob deGrom found out last week he is done for the season due to elbow pains, joining a long list of core Mets players on the shelf until 2017. The Mets will most likely make the playoffs and might even make it to the divisional series, but don’t bank on New York to replicate their magical run of 2015. Meanwhile, the Miami Marlins are on pace to finish a season above .500 for the first time since changing their name and relocating to Marlins Park.

NL Central contenders

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)

Chicago Cubs 95-55

St. Louis Cardinals 79-71, 16.0 GB

Having already clinched the division, the Chicago Cubs continue to dominate the rest of the league. With no clear flaws up and down their roster, the Cubs have the best odds of winning the World Series since early-in the season. The St. Louis Cardinals, winners of three straight, are in the midst of a tight three-team race in the NL Wild Card race with the Giants and the Mets. The outcome of the wild card will most likely come down to the wire during the last week of the regular season where the Cardinals will finish out the season with a seven-game homestand against the Pirates and the Reds.

NL West contenders

Los Angeles Dodgers 85-65

San Francisco Giants 79-71, 6.0 GB

The bad blood between the Dodgers and Giants continues to spill. In the teams’ most recent altercation, both benches were cleared when Madison Bumgarner and Yasiel Puig got into a shouting match. The Dodgers went on to win the game in walk-off fashion after a 9th inning rally and another Giants’ bullpen collapse. With pitcher Clayton Kershaw and the enigmatic Puig back in action, the Dodgers are the most problematic obstacle for the World Series favourite Chicago Cubs. The Giants will attempt to pull away from the competition in the wild card hunt by capitalizing on a couple of upcoming four-game series against the Padres and the Rockies.

ozone@ocolly.com

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