September 10, 2013
With just about 20 games left in the regular season, most of the MLB playoff races are essentially over. It’s pretty safe to say that we already know who four division winners will be and where two of the wild card teams are going to come from.
The Boston Red Sox have left the Yankees, Orioles and Rays in the dust and turned a 4-team race into a 7.5 game lead in the AL East. They have a shot at 100 wins and should be the top seed in the American League.
In the AL Central, the Tigers maintain a 4.5 game lead over the pesky Indians. It’s not out of the question for Cleveland to make it a race…until you check the schedule. Not only do the Tigers not face Cleveland again, but all but three of their remaining games will be against the White Sox, Mariners, Twins and Marlins. That is as cake as it gets.
At least we have the AL West race. But maybe not for long. Oakland leads Texas by just two games right now and the teams meet for the final time in a three-game series beginning Friday. It’s a must-win series (at least two out of three) for the Rangers who still play Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay while Oakland doesn’t have any other playoff hopefuls left on its schedule.
And then there is the AL Wild Card. This one could truly be wild down to the final game. The Oakland/Texas runner up will have to deal with Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Baltimore, Kansas City and the Yankees for the two spots in the wild card one-game playoff.
In the NL East, the Braves have been on cruise control for about a month already and still lead by 12 games. The only question here is whether they can hold off the hard-charging Dodgers for the top seed in the NL.
Speaking of the Dodgers…they too hold a 12-game lead in their division and are now playing for home-field advantage in the NL.
The NL Central/Wild Card race is the one to watch in the NL. St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are all going to the playoffs. One will win the Central and the other two will get the wild card spots (Washington trails by seven games for the last wild card spot). The Cardinals have a one-game lead in the division and a schedule that makes it theirs to lose. They play Milwaukee, Seattle, Colorado, Washington and the Cubs who all are making plans for 2014. Meanwhile, the Pirates and Reds will play each other six more times. If one team can win four or five of those games, they may be able to give the Cardinals a run. Otherwise, they’ll be playing for the right to host the wild card game.