It’s time once again to re-visit where Major League Baseball is at the current time and it’s already vastly different than it was a month ago. It wasn’t that long ago that there were legitimate races in every division but that is in the past.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are on a run of epic and historical proportions over their last 50 games. They have won 41 of those games and their extra -inning loss yesterday ended a 10-game winning streak. LA has gone from being a cellar-dweller two months ago to leading the National League West by 7.5 games over Arizona.
In third place in the division is Colorado who is an amazing 15 games back. I say amazing because the Rockies were in the thick of this race six weeks ago.
The National League East has also seen a fairly competitive race become a laughing stock. The Atlanta Braves have taken their relatively small lead and stretched it to 15.5 games over Washington. The Nationals feel like they still have a shot at the playoffs despite being 9.5 out in the wild-card race.
The National League Central is still an amazingly tight race with the same three teams battling that have battled all season. Pittsburgh has led the division over the last few weeks but is struggling having lost seven of nine. They have a one game lead over St. Louis and a lead of 2.5 over Cincinnati.
In the American League Central, the Detroit Tigers have pulled away from Cleveland since the All-Star break when they lead by three games. They have stretched their lead over the Indians to seven games and 8.5 over Kansas City whose surge seems to have faded a bit.
Not much has changed in the AL West where Texas holds a half game lead over Oakland. The Rangers and Athletics have six games remaining with each other. Three in Oakland and three in Arlington.
And finally, the American League East remains a fairly tight race although the Yankees are struggling to maintain a shot for the postseason. Boston has a one game lead over Tampa and a 4.5 game lead over Baltimore. The Bronx Bombers are 7.5 back and are six back in the wild-card race.
As the season winds down there are a couple of big series starting today. Here’s a look…
Pittsburgh at San Diego (-150/+120) – The Padres are out of the playoff race but should be credited with having hung in as long as they did. This series is about the Pirates though and whether they can get the bats going. The pitching has been outstanding all season but aces Jeff Locke and A.J. Burnett are coming off poor outings. The Bucs are approaching the 82-win total which they haven’t seen in over 20 years. That cannot be their focus however. I like the Pirates in this series.
Arizona at Cincinnati (+165/-205) – Both teams enter this series having won seven of their last ten games. The D-Backs are struggling to keep up with the Dodgers but are just five out in the wild-card with the Reds sitting directly above them. We know where the Reds are currently and what’s at stake for them. They currently have one of the two wild-card spots with the other belonging to fellow Central rival St. Louis. The Reds are 37-20 at home and I like them in this series against Arizona who is below .500 on the road.
Tampa Bay at Baltimore (-110/-120) – If the season ended today, the Rays would have one of the wild-card spots while the Orioles would be three games out. Tampa Bay has been pretty good on the road at 29-29 while Baltimore is nine games over .500 at 35-26. This is the last time these two will hook up until a huge four-game series in Tampa Bay in late September. 14-3 Chris Tillman takes the hill in the opener for Baltimore, but I like the Rays to get two of three.