Hey all. Steve here. Let’s talk a bit of baseball. With about a quarter of the season remaining, we have some pretty interesting races taking shape in baseball. Ever since the second Wild Card was put into play, there is a huge emphasis on winning the division. Gone are the days of being fine with winning the Wild Card because now you can “win” a Wild Card spot simply to lose your spot in the playoffs in a one game playoff. That could be a real shame for the Pirates and Cubs. They both could win 90+ games and take both Wild Card spots and have to play a one game playoff. That would be the Cubs luck, wouldn’t it? Win 93 games and lose to the Pirates in a one game playoff. There are some close races, but then there is the AL Central where the Royals hold quite the lead. The key for them is going to be to stay awake on the way to the postseason. That’s enough chit-chat for now – come join me on a tour around the league.
American League East
As far as the AL East is concerned, it looks as though it could be a 3 team race with the Orioles barely hanging on. That being said, I think we all know this is just a 2 team race with the newly revamped Blue Jays coming on strong (and actually taking a lead last week) and the veteran-led Yankees trying to hold on. The Orioles and Rays are well within reach of that 2nd Wild Card spot, but again we are passed the years when it was cool to win the Wild Card that guaranteed you a spot in the playoffs. The Blue Jays have been getting better starting pitching and that lineup is just absurd. The question will be if the Yankees can hold on to that fountain of youth they seem to be clinging to this season.
Steve’s Pick – Blue Jays
American League Central
Like I said in the opening, there isn’t much of a race here with the Royals owning a 14 game lead over the 2nd place (and sub .500) Twins. I suppose at this point in the season you could say that the rest of the division has a shot at a Wild Card, but until they step up to the plate (pun intended) and get to .500 they should give up on the pipe-dream of making the playoffs.
Steve’s Pick – Royals (Duh)
American League West
Now here is a nice 3 team race. The Astros and Rangers bolstered their clubs at the deadline and they are reaping the benefits. The Angels are not as hit as they once were and the Rangers are coming on strong. With their offense and the addition of Cole Hamels, you just never know. The Astros have been through too much this season to lose it with a quarter of the season left, right?
Steve’s Pick – Astros
National League East
Wow. Who would have thought that the Nationals would be a .500 team on August 19th? The Phillies were mathematically eliminated on March 17th and the Marlins have played well below expectations. The Braves tried to hang on back in April, but this is where we expected them to be. The Mets have the easiest schedule moving forward and only play one team that is over .500 and that is the Yankees. Met fans (myself included) need to remember the disasters that were 2007 and 2008, but this pitching and improved hitting should be enough to keep this lead. The Nationals have the talent to turn this around now and just simply catch fire (like we all thought they would) so this division is absolutely up for grabs.
Steve’s Pick – Mets
National League Central
This is the most interesting division in baseball. You have a 3 team race and all 3 of those teams would be in first place in all of the other divisions with the exception of the AL Central. You have to think that both Wild Card winners will come from this division and that means one of the top 4 teams (as of a right now) in baseball won’t play a postseason game as one will be eliminated in a one game playoff. Bummer. The Cardinals have just been the Cardinals this year. No matter what they do they seem to do it right. They are dealing with some injuries now, but Mr. Wainwright might just make it back this season to provide some relief during the stretch run. The Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs have some of the best pitching in baseball so this one figures to come down to the wire.
Steve’s Pick – Pirates
National League West
Here we go – another two team race. The Dodgers have that great 1-2 punch and they just bolstered their lineup with…umm Chase Utley? I don’t get that move, but it was made today and the Dodgers feel as though having Utley and Rollins in there will give them some Phillie magic from a few years back. The Giants have Bummy and so-so pitching the rest of the way. It should be an exciting finish out West, but there has to be a winner (cliche-face).
Steve’s Pick – Dodgers
There you go people. The best picks in the business! Let me know what you guys think. You can either agree with me or have me tell you why you’re wrong. Challenge accepted.