By: Ross Sutton
1. Astros (50-26)- The Astros have really hit their stride recently, as they just lost their 12-game winning streak the other night. I wrote about how dangerous this team is a few days ago, as they have the offense and starting rotation to beat anyone. Houston will also have an easy road into the All-Star break as they will play a lot of sub-.500 teams.
2. Yankees (49-22)- Teams around the league are probably getting a little worried about how hot Giancarlo Stanton is at the moment. Stanton has hit a home run in two straight games, and three in his last five. Not only is the power coming back, but his average is climbing as well. In my opinion, the Yankees are one of the most intriguing teams to watch around the deadline because I think they will try their best to land a good starting pitcher.
3. Red Sox (49-26)- Despite losing the first two games of a three-game series in Minnesota, the Red Sox have still been playing well lately and sit just two games back of the Yankees in the AL East. Boston does have a tough road ahead though, as they play the Mariners, Angels, Yankees, and Nationals in their next four series.
4. Mariners (46-28)- Unfortunately, the time spent in first place was brief for Seattle, who is now three games back of the red hot Astros in the AL West. Honestly though, the Mariners have a small chance to win the division as their team currently stands, as I do not think they have the starting pitching to top the Astros. That being said, Seattle still has a great chance to make the playoffs as a wild card team, as they are currently seven games ahead of the Angels for the second wild card spot.
5. Braves (43-30)- I think the Braves are a legitimate threat to the Nationals for the division crown, as they are still three and a half games up on the Nats and Phillies. Not only have the Braves been able to stave off the recent efforts of the Nationals, but I think the Braves will be aggressive at the deadline to acquire a starting pitcher, and possibly a third baseman.
6. Cubs (42-29)- The Cubs have only won five of their last ten games, but so have the Brewers, so the Cubs have not fallen out of the top spot in the AL Central. Chicago starts a four-game series with the Reds today, so maybe they will reclaim sole possession of first place by the end of the weekend.
7. Brewers (43-30)- Despite falling out of the top five of these rankings, the Brewers are still in a good position to make the playoffs this year, as they currently have a three and a half game lead over the Phillies and Nationals for the first wild card spot. After a four-game series with the Cardinals, the Brewers will face the Royals and Reds, so they should be able to at least keep up with the Cubs over the next week or so.
8. Indians (40-33)- Cleveland has won six out of their last ten games, so they have been playing pretty well recently. The Indians are in a really good spot, as they are in by far the worst division in baseball and will have an easy ride into the playoffs as a division winner. This means the Indians won’t be playing under much pressure for the rest of the regular season and will be able to give all of their most important players a lot rest down the stretch. After an off-day today, the Indians will have a chance to separate themselves even more from the team right behind them in the division, the Tigers, as they start a three-game series against Detroit tomorrow.
9. Diamondbacks (40-33)- I think it is only a matter of time before someone in the NL West separates themselves from the rest of the division, and right now, the Diamondbacks are the team to beat in the division, as they are two games up on the Dodgers. Luckily for the D-backs, Paul Goldschmidt has looked like the MVP-caliber player everyone has gotten used to seeing over the last few years, so maybe Arizona will be able to hold off the other teams in their division the rest of the way.
10. Phillies (39-33)- The Phillies have gotten back on track recently, as they have won seven out of their last ten games. This next week and a half will be extremely important for the Phils though, as they play two series against the Nationals, with a three-game series against the Yankees in between. I think for the Phillies to be legitimate playoff contenders this year, they will have to be aggressive at the deadline and acquire more pitching.
My other recent blogs:
Nats Acquire Kelvin Herrera
Breaking News: The Astros Are Really Good
Totally Opposite Playoff Pictures in A.L. and N.L.
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