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With End of Marathon Nearing, MLB Teams Look for Final Kick

Whenever people complain the Major League Baseball season is too long, diehards will remind you what a 162-game schedule provides. One good month or several weeks guarantees little in the grand scheme of things. That’s why some teams are desperate to add support at the trade deadline. Baseball is a marathon, and making it to the end of September in the playoff chase is a true accomplishment.

The Tampa Bay Rays started the season 13-0 but were caught in the standings by the Baltimore Orioles on July 20th. The Rays will need a solid finish down the stretch to tear the AL East Crown away from Baltimore. But Tampa Bay isn’t the only team caught in a vicious fight. Nearly every playoff spot is still up for grabs as the final weeks of September are upon us. However, most teams won’t be able to cruise to the finish line. There is still much work to be done.

Dodgers, Braves, and Twins Should Feel Comfortable


If the Minnesota Twins weren’t in the American League Central Division, their 71 victories wouldn’t even put them in an American League Wild Card spot. The Central Division is having a down season, with every team posting a losing season instead of the Twins. Cleveland is still within shouting distance but doesn’t have the roster to close a five-game gap.

The Los Angeles Dodgers spent most of the first half of the season in second place behind the Arizona Diamondbacks but have long since overtaken their division rivals. The Dodgers are 12 games up in the standings and should coast to its 10th division title in the last 11 seasons.

Atlanta, which won the World Series two years ago, is closing in on another division title. The Braves have a ridiculous plus-239 run differential on hold, a 15-game lead on the second-place Phillies. Atlanta has a strong lineup and a devastating pitching rotation.

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Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers took over first place in the National League Central in early August. The Brewers have had to deal with their division rivals’ various young rosters surging at different times. The Pittsburgh Pirates started hot and held the division lead until early May.

Then Cincinnati brought a central lightning bolt into the race by calling up prospect Elly De La Cruz. De La Cruz has been hot ever since he came up and has propelled the Reds into the Wild Card race. Cincinnati briefly took the division lead but has faded recently and is in a dogfight with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the final playoff spot.

The Chicago Cubs haven’t taken over first place at any point but are currently in the second Wild Card spot. The Cubs are within a few games of Milwaukee and should make it a fun final push.

My, Oh, My


The Seattle Mariners were as many as ten games back in the American League West Division standings. But the Mariners weren’t phased by the Texas Rangers hot start or the defending World Series champion Astros. Seattle was able to rally behind strong pitching to shoot to first place.

Led by ace pitcher Luis Castillo, the Mariners’ pitching staff has the best team ERA in the league. Castillo himself has a 3.01 ERA, which ranks fifth-best in the league. The Rangers are clinging to the third Wild Card spot, holding a slight lead over the Toronto Blue Jays. Texas’ bullpen has struggled to close out games, which has allowed the Astros to pass them in the standings.

American League East May Only Get Two Teams In


There was a moment this season where all five AL East teams were above .500. The Yankees, surprisingly, have slipped to a losing record at least temporarily, as there will be four teams from the division making a real push for the playoffs. Both Tampa Bay and Baltimore have a 99 percent chance of moving on.

The Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox are both within striking distance. Toronto is neck-and-neck with Texas, while the Sox are within five games. While at one point this season, people thought the AL East might snap up all three Wild Cards, it is a real possibility they only finish with one.

Marlins, Phillies in Wild Card Chase


If it weren’t for the Atlanta Braves, the defending National League champion Philadelphia Phillies might be the talk of baseball. The Phillies had a stretch in late August and early September where they hit multiple home runs in six straight games.

That tied a Philadelphia record for consecutive multi-home run games. The Phillies hadn’t accomplished that since Aug. 2-8, 1969. Philadelphia started the season slow but has surged to become the top Wild Card team in the National League.

The Marlins may be one year away from being something extraordinary. Miami has a bunch of strong pitchers but is held back by a suspect lineup. The Marlins have only scored 559 runs this season, the fewest in the division.

Diamondbacks, Giants Hanging On

Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona has had a tumultuous season off the field. The Diamondbacks had to give the television rights back to Major League Baseball after the regional TV network that broadcast their games went out of business. Arizona’s lack of viewership is compounded by the team’s recent struggles.

The Diamondbacks led the division at the All-Star break, but have fallen behind the powerful Dodgers and are going to have to put together a solid last month of the season to hold off other challengers. San Francisco is having an excellent bounce-back season after catering last year.

Much like the Diamondbacks, however, San Francisco has hit a recent losing skid. The Giants will be fortunate to stay over .500 to end the season. However, there is hope for San Francisco as it is only one game back of the playoffs, but it can’t allow its recent struggles to linger.

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