During the next two weeks, teams will be eliminated and teams will be celebrating a berth in Major League Baseball’s 2013 postseason. The thought of October will be in the back of the minds of all players on teams in the playoff race. What intrigues me the most about this year’s race is the story lines with each team. Could Chris Davis’ 50+ homers not be enough to catapult the Orioles into October? Will the surprising Yankees and the resurgence of Alex Rodriguez shock Major League Baseball and snag a Wild Card spot? There are so many story lines that will come into play as the race for October boils down to the end. Two weeks ago, I wrote an article “October is Almost Upon Us.” Lets take a look at those races right now, and see what teams have gained an edge, or what teams have put themselves out.
National League Central Division and Wild Card:
The N.L. Central is still up for grabs between the Pirates, Cardinals, and Reds. Pittsburgh and Saint Louis have gone back-and-forth with control of the division, and the Reds have remained right behind both teams. There are two crucial three-game sets between the Reds and the Pirates in the last week and a half of the season. These two sets could either help the Pirates or Reds, or it could put the Cardinals on top. If the Reds or Pirates can win four of those six games against the other, that could be huge for playoff placement. With the new playoff format that was installed last year, there is an emphasis on winning your division and in the N.L. Central, you want to win the division if you are one of those three teams.
The N.L. Wild Card is not much of a race, but the Washington Nationals are making it interesting. Cincinnati holds a 5.5 game lead of the Nationals for the second Wild Card spot. With a tough schedule for the rest of the season, three game sets against the Braves, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks, I do not see the Nationals catching the Reds, but anything can happen.
American League Wild Card
Two weeks ago, all three divisional races were close. Two weeks later, the Red Sox have a 8.5 game lead in the A.L. East, the Tigers have a 5 game lead in the A.L. Central, and the Athletics have a 5.5 game lead in the A.L. West. All three of these teams are playing too well to blow the perspective leads they have in their divisions. This makes the race for the Wild Card a fantastic one to watch. Six teams are within 3.5 games of each other for the two Wild Card spots in the American League. Right now, the Rangers and the Rays have the two spots, but the charging Cleveland Indians followed by the Yankees, Royals, and Orioles will all be fighting until the end. Out of the six teams in the hunt, the Cleveland Indians by far have the easiest schedule. They face the Astros, White Sox, and Twins to end the season which could favor the Tribe for a Wild Card spot. The Yankees sit 3 games out, and the Royals along with Orioles both sit 3.5 games out. With the Rangers and Rays close to collapsing, any of those four teams can make it.
In the end, I see the Cardinals winning the N.L. Central, and the Pirates and Reds battling it out in the N.L. Wild Card game. For the American League, the Rangers will gather themselves to hold onto their Wild Card spot, and the Cleveland Indians will knock off the Tampa Bay Rays for the second spot in the A.L. Wild Card game. No matter what happens, the MLB playoff race will not disappoint us these next two weeks.