The Twins hold a 2.5-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central after today’s action, and in addition to fighting for the division crown, both clubs are desperately trying to avoid facing even more competition in the AL wild card hunt. Cleveland (74-51) is currently in possession of the top wild card spot, with the Rays (73-52) in the second slot, just a game behind.
Despite taking three of four games from the Astros, the Athletics are still 7.5 games behind Houston in the AL West, leaving the wild card as Oakland’s most realistic shot at a postseason berth. The A’s (71-53) are 1.5 games behind the Rays.
Had this poll been posted even a couple of days ago, the Red Sox would likely have been omitted, yet a five-game winning streak merits them a mention. Boston (67-59) is still 6.5 games behind Tampa Bay, and don’t have many head-to-head opportunities remaining against their division rivals, as the Sox and Rays only play four more times this season. The Red Sox do have a three-game set against Minnesota on September 3-5 at Fenway Park.
The Twins have six critical September games lined up against the Tribe, but beyond those two series, Minnesota has a clear advantage over Cleveland in terms of benefiting from their weak division. Twenty-six of the Twins’ remaining 38 games are against the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers, while the Indians only face the AL Central’s lesser lights 16 times in their final 37 games.
It all adds up to a wild final six weeks of action, particularly since injuries, roster shuffles, and players on both incredible hot streaks and cold streaks continue to change the narrative on a near-daily basis. In particularly, all three non-AL Central teams face looming questions about their pitching staffs. Can the A’s get their long-awaited influx of young pitching reinforcements once multiple arms return from the injured list? Can the Rays get by three-fourths of their regular rotation (Blake Snell, Yonny Chirinos, Tyler Glasnow) still hurt? Can the Red Sox mount a late-season comeback even as their own inconsistent rotation has suffered perhaps a critical blow?
Which two teams do you think will emerge from the fray to play in the one-game Wild Card playoff in October? (Poll link for app users)