MLB Playoff Watch, AL edition: Seattle slipping, Cleveland catching fire

By Jordan Shusterman
FOX Sports MLB Writer

Are we in the end having a look on the 2022 American League playoff box?

This has been an extended season of shifting and shaking within the standings, each within the wild-card and divisional races. There are nonetheless a bit greater than two weeks ultimate within the common season, however the American League postseason image is getting into center of attention with the six groups lately retaining postseason place having a look awfully more likely to be those in the long run taking part in previous Oct. 5.

They play 162 video games for a reason why, even though — there may be nonetheless time for the ones six groups to modify. With that during thoughts, let’s test in at the 9 AL groups that also have any hope left of achieving the postseason. 

(Note: “Last week” information come with video games from Sept. 12 to Sept. 18.)

HOUSTON ASTROS

Arrow pointing: Up

Overall: 97-51

Since Aug. 2 cut-off date: 29-14

Last week: 6-1

Playoff odds (by way of FanGraphs): 100%

The Astros simply wrapped up their 5th AL West name within the final six seasons and are on tempo to transparent the 100-win mark for the fourth time throughout that span. They exist in their very own tier within the AL and during baseball, are along most effective the Dodgers for his or her unflappable dominance and overwhelming twister of skill.

Justin Verlander returned and did not glance rusty in any respect, Framber Valdez has endured his ancient streak of high quality begins, and Yordan Alvarez just lately busted out of a mini-slump (a minimum of, through his requirements) with a monstrous three-home-run sport. All is definitely in H-Town — now it is only a subject of achieving the postseason as wholesome as conceivable around the board.

NEW YORK YANKEES

Arrow pointing: Up

Overall: 88-58

Since Aug. 2 cut-off date: 18-24

Last week: 3-2

Playoff odds: 100%

For all of the hoopla surrounding Aaron Judge’s ancient season — deserved hoopla, after all — crucial building for the Yankees in recent years has been how a lot fitter they have got gotten, and are about to get, down the stretch. Anthony Rizzo and Aroldis Chapman returned final week; Harrison Bader, Luis Severino and Scott Effross are all scheduled to go back this week. Judge has been so ridiculously excellent that he has as regards to been in a position to hold the Yankees during the canine days on his personal, however any hope for this workforce to make a deep postseason run will be decided through how a lot assist Judge will get round him.

This first spherical of reinforcements is encouraging, and there may be confidently extra at the method: DJ LeMahieu, Zack Britton and Miguel Castro are all running their long ago as neatly. Andrew Benintendi and Matt Carpenter might be choices come postseason time. Judge will, and must, proceed to get the headlines, however all of those returning items are a miles larger deal within the Yankees’ quest for ring No. 28.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Arrow pointing: Up

Overall: 83-64

Since Aug. 2 cut-off date: 26-19

Last week: 5-3

Playoff odds: 99.5%

Despite blowing a golden alternative to brush Baltimore through coughing up a ninth-inning lead Sunday, Toronto does seem to be within the most powerful place of the AL wild-card bunch with the best way they have got been taking part in in recent years. Bo Bichette has been probably the most best possible avid gamers in baseball for the final month, and Ross Stripling has emerged as a actually loyal rotation choice with six consecutive high quality begins, bringing his season ERA beneath 3.00. The Jays received 3 of the 5 at domestic towards the Rays final week — if they may be able to win the overall collection towards Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field this weekend, Toronto lovers can begin to get thinking about website hosting the three-game Wild Card Series. 

SEATTLE MARINERS

Arrow pointing: Neutral

Overall: 81-65

Since Aug. 2 cut-off date: 26-16

Last week: 1-4

Playoff odds: 99.5%

It should not be a lot of a marvel that the Mariners’ vibes took a major hit when the participant whose whole mantra is Good Vibes Only — Eugenio Suarez — hit the IL with a damaged proper index finger. With rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez additionally lacking some motion over the weekend because of again spasms, Seattle’s offense in Anaheim appeared as bleak because it has all season — till Carlos Santana and Ty France blended for all 9 RBI in Monday’s 9-1 victory over the Angels to keep away from the collection sweep. Though the chances of breaking the drought nonetheless seem relatively sure, different contributors of the Mariners lineup wish to proceed stepping up in Suarez’s absence to make sure they received’t be sweating out those previous few weeks. Monday was once a excellent get started. 

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TAMPA BAY RAYS

Arrow pointing: Slightly up

Overall: 82-65

Since Aug. 2 cut-off date: 28-17

Last week: 4-4

Playoff odds: 97.2%

The contemporary returns of Wander Franco and Shane McClanahan from the IL injected some much-needed famous person energy right into a roster that continues to hold difficult with each Toronto and Seattle within the AL wild-card race. And how ‘bout Pete Fairbanks? After permitting runs in every of his first two outings of the season upon getting back from the IL in mid-July, the hard-throwing righty has rattled off 19 consecutive scoreless outings with 30 strikeouts to simply two walks over that span as well. They’ll have the danger to turn the script at the Blue Jays this weekend at domestic and put themselves in place to host a wild-card collection at midnight and gloomy however ridiculously loud confines of Tropicana Field.

CLEVELAND GUARDIANS

Arrow pointing: Up

Overall: 80-67

Since Aug. 2 cut-off date: 27-18

Last week: 6-2

Playoff odds: 89.8%

What a observation for Cleveland to take 4 of 5 from Minnesota this previous weekend, successfully squashing any hopes for the Twins to catch them within the AL Central race. Now they head to Chicago with a identical probability to extinguish the hopes of the White Sox and put this department race to mattress. And but, I nonetheless am no longer positive what to make of this workforce’s total possibilities at creating a deep postseason run taking into consideration their loss of firepower offensively. In many ways I recognize their taste of play extra by contrast to what the remainder of the league seems like in 2022, however it is simply tough to know the way a long way it is going to take them. 

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Arrow pointing: Slightly up

Overall: 76-71

Since Aug. 2 cut-off date: 25-20

Last week: 4-2

Playoff odds: 12.6%

A welcome sight for White Sox lovers: Yoan Moncada, considered one of a number of Sox hitters who has seriously underwhelmed for far of the season, is hitting .352/.389/.585 over his final 12 video games. Jose Abreu and Eloy Jimenez were as regards to the one Sox hitters persistently turning in this season, specifically in Tim Anderson‘s absence. If Moncada can keep this sizzling down the stretch, this lineup turns into much more tough to care for. With Cleveland coming to the town for a three-game collection with a four-game lead, this will be the South Siders’ final probability to make up vital flooring on their very own of their quest to tug off a fantastic department name.

Of direction, it is value remembering that the White Sox have been substantial favorites to win this department prior to the season started, so how a lot must we actually be celebrating the truth that they’re putting on for expensive existence with two weeks to move? Still, they should be feeling significantly better than the workforce they just lately handed within the AL Central standings …

MINNESOTA TWINS

Arrow pointing: Down

Overall: 73-74

Since Aug. 2 cut-off date: 19-26

Last week: 4-3

Playoff odds: 0.4%

To put it merely: oof. A workforce that spent necessarily all of May, June and July in first position could be at risk of completing with a dropping file and nowhere close to a postseason spot. Injuries have definitely performed a vital section in Minnesota’s downfall this yr, but it surely was once a reasonably wrong roster to start with, specifically when it got here to the pitching workforce. That’s to not say there are not items in position right here for Minnesota to contend in 2023, however that might rely on whether or not shortstop Carlos Correa comes to a decision to choose out — which turns out most likely. This is now two seasons in a row that experience long gone utterly sideways for the Twins in very alternative ways. An enormous offseason looms for GM Derek Falvey’s entrance administrative center. 

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Arrow pointing: Neutral

Overall: 76-70

Since Aug. 2 cut-off date: 24-19

Last week: 3-2

Playoff odds: 0.8%

It has been a valiant effort all season lengthy for this team and the comeback Sunday towards the Blue Jays was once but any other inspiring instance of why this workforce will wish to be taken severely once subsequent season. It seems like they will arise simply quick this yr, however a super probability at a successful season after being the worst workforce in baseball in 2021 is an plain good fortune, particularly when factoring within the bona-fide breakouts of core avid gamers akin to Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson

Jordan Shusterman is part of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball author for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @j_shusterman_.


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