The MLB season comes to a close this Sunday and the playoff matchups are taking shape. The Braves and Yankees have clinched the East Divisions. And the Astros and Dodgers have clinched their respective Western Divisions. While the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals have clinched Post-Season spots. Some teams are moving at an upward trajectory while others have scuffled. This piece is about both of those types of teams.
1 UP: OAKLAND ATHLETICS
The playoff picture at the present moment gives the Oakland A’s a premium position as the first AL WildCard team. Oakland has had an underrated squad and back-to-back playoff appearances demonstrate the very principle. The A’s have a sleeper candidate for the AL MVP in Marcus Semien. Semien is approaching the 30/100 mark for the first time in his career, and that performance has boosted Oakland’s chances this season. Should Oakland advance out of the AL WildCard game, they should make for an intriguing Divisional matchup for the Houston Astros.
1 DOWN: CHICAGO CUBS
The Chicago Cubs were supposed to be the next great MLB dynasty following their 2016 “Billy Goat” curse-breaking World Series victory. However, over the last couple of seasons, the Cubbies have not reached the same heights. Injuries and inconsistency have stunted the growth of some of the superstars in the Cubs lineup. With one more lost or another Brewers victory, the Cubs will be eliminated from playoff contention this season. And that puts the Cubs manager Joe Madden’s job in jeopardy, as we discussed in our piece, 3 MLB Managers Likely to be Fired3 MLB Managers Likely to be Fired.
2 UP: WASHINGTON NATIONALS
This season was an “uncertain” season for the Nationals if you asked “experts” before the season. However, when speaking to players, coaches, and front office personnel, they were supremely confident. The playoff berth in the first season in the “Post Bryce Harper Era” signals a continued commitment to winning in the Nation’s Capitol.
2 DOWN: BOSTON RED SOX
The defending World Series Champions were eliminated from post-season contention. Thus keeping the no-repeat champions streak. And also signifying just how difficult it is to win the MLB World Series. Seeing the Red Sox falter this season was somewhat shocking to many given the dominant run they had in 2018. And while another 108 win season from Boston was unlikely to see them only seven games over .500 with only five games left in the season is still a surprising thing to witness.
3 UP: TAMPA BAY RAYS
Tampa Bay is in a fortuitous situation as they maintain a half-game lead over the Cleveland Indians for the second AL WildCard. As the season winds down if the Rays can keep this pace, they will lock themselves in as the second AL WildCard.
3 DOWN: NEW YORK YANKEES
So the inclusion of the Yankees at this position is for only one reason, Home-Field Advantage. The Yankees are a game and a half behind the Astros for the best record in MLB. The Bronx Bombers would need to win two more games than Houston to have every series begin and potentially end in the Bronx this post-season.
B.O.L.O: HOUSTON ASTROS
As the records stand, Houston holds all the keys for victory. They have the best record in MLB and thus giving themselves Home-Field advantage throughout the entire playoffs. Houston also boasts the three-headed monster at the top of their rotation. And the ‘Stros also have the lineup that strikes out the least in MLB. That combination makes for a dangerous opponent for everyone and anyone who comes against them this post-season.