Photo courtesy of Wilfredo Lee | AP Photo
A new week for Major League Baseball means new rankings and there’s been a shift in the tides in the battle for the AL Central while the NL playoff picture is beginning to look more clear. Here are the top 10 teams in baseball this week.
On Deck: San Diego Padres (65-52, last week: 4-2) (Prev. rank: 9)
The Padres take a dip in the rankings this week as the announcement of star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr’s suspension will have a significant impact for the ball club long term. In the midst of a playoff push, San Diego needed the fire power as their offense is mid-pack in batting average and OPS (15h in both). The pitching is going to need to carry the Friars through the regular season and into the playoffs.
10. Cleveland Guardians (61-53, last week: 5-1) (Prev. rank: NR)
The Guardians are now leading the AL Central after a successful that saw them topple the Detroit Tigers and take two of three against the Toronto Blue Jays. They currently lead the Minnesota Twins by 2.5 games and have a pivotal next few weeks coming up against the Chicago White Sox, Padres, Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles.
9. Seattle Mariners (62-54, last week: 3-3) (Prev. rank: 10)
Seattle still holds a playoff position, Luis Castillo is on a roll through his first two starts and Julio Rodriguez returned from injury. All appears to be swell for the Mariners except for the fact that they are losing games that should be won. The weekend was not a great look for the team still looking to end their ludicrous playoff drought as they dropped two of three to the lowly Texas Rangers, who just fired manager Chris Woodward Monday. Seattle has a favorable schedule the rest of the month and must put their foot down if they want to play October baseball.
8. Toronto Blue Jays (61-52, last week: 1-4) (Prev. rank: 7)
Toronto has proven they can hit but in their four losses last week, the pitching staff surrendered six runs or more. The AL Wild Card is as tight as could be and the Blue Jays only hold a game and a half lead over their week-opening matchup against the Baltimore Orioles, who beat them twice last week.
7. Philadelphia Phillies (63-51, last week: 3-3) (Prev. rank: 8)
The Phillies hold the final NL Wild Card spot by a game and a half over the Milwaukee Brewers but were unsuccessful in showing October prowess as they mustered just two runs in the three-game weekend set against the New York Mets. They’ll have another shot with a four-game set this weekend against the Mets and have a favorable schedule for the remainder of the month.
6. New York Yankees (72-43, last week: 2-4) (Prev. rank: 4)
It feels like the wheels are falling off the mighty Yankees as they’ve dropped nine of their last 12 games. Is it a curse Joey Gallo has bestowed on the franchise since he was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers? It was a mixture of a lot going wrong for New York as when their pitching was on point, they couldn’t hit and when they were hitting, the pitching wasn’t there. The ship needs to be turned around in this week’s series against AL East foes in the Tampa Bay Rays and Blue Jays.
5. St. Louis Cardinals (63-51, last week: 3-3) (Prev. rank: 6)
The Cardinals still own the edge over the Brewers and I expect them still hold the NL Central through the remainder of the regular season. New addition Jordan Montgomery was stellar in his first Cardinal outing, pitching six innings and striking out eight against Milwaukee. Now, one starts to wonder if Albert Pujols can actually get to 700 home runs by the end of the year.
4. Atlanta Braves (70-46, last week: 6-0) (Prev. rank: 5)
This is where the league separates in quality as there is a clear top four in baseball right now. Atlanta won six in a row last week and now can close the gap in the NL East and apply major pressure to the Mets with a four-game series beginning Monday evening. They follow the pivotal series with three games against the Houston Astros over the weekend.
3. Houston Astros (75-41, last week: 5-1) (Prev. rank: 3)
You just can’t prevent the Astros from falling off despite their past. The team is destined to return to the World Series for the fourth time in the last six seasons. An interesting World Series rematch against the Braves awaits them this weekend but it should be smooth sailing for H-Town through the remainder of the month.
2. New York Mets (75-40, last week: 5-1) (Prev. rank: 2)
It’s the make-or-break week for the Mets as they have the opportunity to virtually clinch the NL East with eight games against the Braves and Phillies this week. Knowing the history of the Mets, however, it doesn’t seem like the team could just have a normal week. It will either be a bountiful week that makes the Mets the team to beat next to the Dodgers or they fade a bit and keep Atlanta within striking distance of taking the division.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (79-34, last week: 4-1) (Prev. rank: 1)
The Dodgers’ 12-game win streak was snapped Sunday against the Kansas City Royals. The team finally rested for a game and they’ll look to recharge with a 2018 NLCS rematch against the Brewers. Then, the schedule gets weird with matchups exclusively against Milwaukee and Miami Marlins over the next 10 days before the series of the season at the end of the month against the Mets.