By Trevor Smith
Contenders: Cleveland Indians (69-56), Minnesota Twins (65-61, 4.5 GB), Kansas City Royals (64-62, 5.5 GB)
Pretenders: Detroit Tigers (55-71, 14.5 GB), Chicago White Sox (49-76, 20 GB)
The race for the AL Central is as tight as ever with all three contenders going 6-4 in their past 10 games. The Indians will look to distance themselves this upcoming weekend as they start a weekend series against the Kansas City Royals on Friday. Minnesota will look to make up ground on Cleveland as it heads to Toronto for a weekend series against the Blue Jays. The Wild Card is also up for grabs as Minnesota is a half game up on the Angels for the second wild card spot. Kansas City is only a game behind Minnesota for that last wild card spot.
Contenders: Boston Red Sox (73-53). New York Yankees (68-58, five GB), Baltimore Orioles (62-65, 11.5 GB), Tampa Bay Rays (63-66, 11.5 GB), Toronto Blue Jays (60-67, 13.5 GB)
The AL East is easily the strongest division in the MLB right now with all five teams vying for a playoff spot. The division, however, is a two-team race between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees with about one month left in the season. Baltimore is looking to gain some ground in the Wild Card race this weekend in a tough matchup in Boston while Tampa has an easier matchup in St. Louis. The Blue Jays will have their work cut out for them as they face the Indians in Cleveland. As the season winds down, the intensity looks to increase as these teams fight for two wild card spots.
Contenders: Houston Astros (77-49), Los Angeles Angels (65-62, 12.5 GB), Seattle Mariners (65-63, 13 GB), Texas Rangers (63-63, 14 GB)
Pretenders: Oakland Athletics (55-72, 22.5 GB)
The AL West looks to be all but wrapped up as the Astros continue their dominance of the AL but hope is not lost as three other division teams are eyeing a wild card spot. The Angels, Mariners and Rangers are all within two games of the last wild card spot with a little over a month left. Angels get a tough draw, hosting the Astros starting Friday night in Los Angeles. The Mariners are heading to New York to face the Yankees while Texas is heading to Oakland to face the last-place Athletics.
Contenders: Chicago Cubs (68-57), Milwaukee Brewers (66-62, 3.5 GB), St. Louis Cardinals (64-62, 4.5 GB)
Pretenders: Pittsburgh Pirates (61-66, eight GB), Cincinnati Reds (53-74, 16 GB)
The Cubs have been on a roll as of late, going 8-2 in their past 10 games to extend their lead over Milwaukee in the NL Central to 3.5 games and 4.5 over the Cardinals. Milwaukee is heading to Los Angeles to face the hottest team in baseball as the Brewers fight for their playoff lives. The Cardinals are hosting the Rays this weekend and look to keep pace with the Cubs and Brewers after faltering with a 4-6 record in their past 10 games. The Brewers and Cardinals are both less than five games back of the Rockies for the NL’s final playoff spot.
Contenders: Washington Nationals (75-49), Miami Marlins (63-63, 13 GB)
Pretenders: Atlanta Braves (56-69, 19.5 GB), New York Mets (55-71, 21 GB), Philadelphia Phillies (46-80, 30 GB)
The NL East is Washington’s to lose as it holds a 13-game lead over the Miami Marlins, however, with Bryce Harper’s injury there may be a glimmer of hope for the Marlins. The Marlins will start their push toward the playoff with a weekend series against the Padres in San Diego. Miami is also 5.5 games back of the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race as the season nears its do or die point.
Contenders: Los Angeles Dodgers (89-36), Arizona Diamondbacks (70-58, 20.5 GB), Colorado Rockies (69-58, 21 GB)
Pretenders: San Diego Padres (56-70, 33.5 GB), San Francisco Giants (52-77, 39 GB)
The Dodgers are on a historic run and have all but clinched the NL West, leaving the remaining contenders to fight for a wild card spot. The Diamondbacks and Rockies hold a wild card spot with just over a month remaining in the season. Both have big weekend series coming up with the Diamondbacks hosting the Giants Colorado traveling to SunTrust Park to take on the Braves. If both teams can take care of business over the next month, there is a strong possibility three NL West teams could make the playoffs.