OMG the Cubs won two in a row! And the Mets beat the Giants? What is happening?!?
As I’ve been saying on Live Drive Radio for more than two months, you need to Embrace the Chaos if you’re watching the wild card races in Major League Baseball. We’ve got a half dozen teams in the mix, some sliding the wrong way (Padres, Red Sox) and others sprinting for a postseason berth (Yankees).
Young players are making an impact all over baseball right now. And pitching depth is being tested everywhere. How are teams holding up in the dog days of August?
Let’s jump into this week’s MLB Power Rankings.
1. San Francisco Giants
The Giants retain the top spot again this week. While the Dodgers have a longer win streak and have won more games in their last 10, we’re sticking with the Giants because they’re a ridiculous 42-19 at home this season. If they can hang onto the top spot in the National League, that home field dominance will come into play in October.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
If I told you in March the Dodgers would be around 30 games over .500 on Aug. 20 you would have likely believed me. When you consider Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts haven’t done much to help the offense and Trevor Bauer is spending more time in a court room than on the mound, that record is more impressive. The fact the Giants have a three-game lead this late in the season is remarkable.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa’s 7-3 in their last 10 and continue to hold onto a strong lead in the American League East. They should pay attention to the Yankees in their rearview mirror but the American League will likely go through Tampa again this year.
4. Chicago White Sox
After losing a series to the Yankees despite the dramatic walk-off in Iowa, the Sox beat up on the A’s pretty well this week. They’re in control of the AL Central and their bullpen remains perhaps the most lethal in baseball. Liam Hendriks admitted his wife caught him tipping his pitches, leading to a couple ugly outings. Hendriks, Michael Kopech and Craig Kimbrel are a ridiculous back end.
The Pinstripes charged back into the wild card race without Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rizzo. They’re now back, and you’ve got guys like Luke Voit arguing for playing time. They’ve got a climb in front of them if they want to catch the Rays, but the Yankees have grabbed control of the American League Wild Card over the past week. The sweep of Boston was huge.
6. Atlanta Braves
Could Freddie Freeman repeat as NL MVP? He hit for the cycle in the first six innings on Wednesday and has been dominant since the All-Star Game. They have left the National League East in their dust with an amazingly strong couple weeks. If their pitching can stay healthy, their lineup can make life hell for opponents.
7. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers are nine games in front of the Braves in the standings and have won four straight. But they’re coasting to an easy division championship in the NL Central. The addition of Willy Adames earlier this year has been the best trade in baseball this season. And they have three legit Cy Young candidates in their rotation.
8. Houston Astros
The Astros’ lead in the AL West has shrunk over the past week but they’re going to get Alex Bregman back at some point. That lineup is deep and powerful and their rotation is holding up its end of the bargain. A rough week doesn’t pull them out of the top ten.
9. Seattle Mariners
Maybe a bit high for the Mariners, but considering where the next few teams appear to be headed we’re going to pump their tires a little this week. The Mariners have won seven of their last ten and their young players are getting increasingly comfortable. They’re going to be a handful for the AL West soon.
10. Boston Red Sox
Getting Chris Sale back was great. Getting swept at Yankee Stadium was not, and now the Red Sox are looking up at their hated rival in the wild card standings. They need to find a way to stop this slide quickly because they’re allowing more teams than the Yankees to have postseason dreams.
11. Oakland A’s
We’re praying Chris Bassitt can have a full, healthy recovery after a scary scene in Chicago earlier this week. Losing him from the rotation is a tough blow to a team that was already struggling. Starling Marte has been a wonderful addition to the lineup but the pitching needs to pick up the play.
12. St. Louis Cardinals
The Padres and Reds have company in the wild card conversation in the National League, and the hottest team in pursuit is the Cardinals. Their pitching has improved and the lineup is clicking, leading to a strong couple weeks and now they’re hoping to catch up to the final playoff spot.
13. Cincinnati Reds
They were in control of their own destiny with an easy week and a wild card spot within reach. Then they lost two in a row to the pathetic Cubs and here we are. If you want a playoff spot, you’ve gotta win the games you’re supposed to win. The Reds couldn’t drop those two to Chicago, but they did.
14. San Diego Padres
Remember back in March when their pitching was supposed to be a strength? Now they’re so desperate for arms they signed Jake Arrieta, previously DFA’d by the Cubs, and watched him implode and get hurt in his first start. Like the Red Sox, the Padres need to figure it out asap.
15. Toronto Blue Jays
Their run differential is among the best in baseball but they just can’t get the offense and pitching to click at the same time. George Springer headed back on the IL hurts; he was playing well.
16. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Shohei Ohtani is must-see TV. We have never seen anything like him and it’s been such a joy to watch him dominate at the plate and on the mound. What a shame they haven’t been able to enjoy his season with Mike Trout in the lineup.
17. Philadelphia Phillies
They took advantage of the bad Mets to grab the division lead and then crashed right back to reality, allowing the Mets to hang around and the Braves to run right past both of them. Aaron Nola has been an inconsistent disappointment this year; Bryce Harper’s MVP chances aren’t getting much help from them losing games.
18. Minnesota Twins
The Twinkies get the nod here and a nice jump in the standings because they have won seven of their last ten. They rightfully sold at the deadline and added some more young talent to their pipeline, but the guys who are left have performed admirably since the fire sale.
An extra-inning win in San Francisco after Steve Cohen blasted the offense was nice, but they need to string together some wins right now against the best two teams in baseball. Not an easy ask. They are close to sending both Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor out on rehab assignments, which could be a huge help.
20. Detroit Tigers
Miguel Cabrera has been a nightly must-watch in his pursuit of 500 career home runs, but the young players on their roster are maturing well this season. Once they get Spencer Torkelson and a few others ready for the big leagues they’ll be the team the White Sox have to worry about in the AL Central.
21. Kansas City Royals
By virtue of being the least-terrible team in our bottom ten over the past week, the Royals land at 21. Salvador Perez is a tremendous player and Whit Merrifield is terrific. But there’s a gap between their veterans being here now and their young pitching (and Bobby Witt Jr) being ready for the big leagues.
22. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies were rightfully blasted for not selling more at the deadline, but they have been a nice team since the deadline. And their 41-21 record at Coors Field is amazing when you consider they’re 14-45 on the road.
23. Cleveland Guardians
They continue to turn out incredible pitchers on an annual basis; Triston McKenzie took a no-hitter into the eighth inning earlier this week and appears to be ready to contribute at a high level in the Cleveland rotation.
24. Arizona Diamondbacks
We’re giving them a bump this week because of Tyler Gilbert’s no-hitter against the Padres. Tossing a no-no in his first big league start was a great scene. Let’s not forget rookie catcher Daulton Varsho was behind the dish for the performance as well. Congrats!
25. Chicago Cubs
The Cubs taking two games in Cincinnati was a huge blow to the Reds’ playoff hopes. And Frank Schwindel has been terrific since the Cubs handed him the everyday first base gig after trading Anthony Rizzo.
26. Washington Nationals
They still have Juan Soto.
27. Miami Marlins
Jazz Chisholm has been a fun player to watch this year and their young pitching is coming along. Jesus Luzardo will be a really nice piece in their rotation; hopefully they can get Sixto Sanchez back healthy at some point next year.
28. Texas Rangers
They’re terrible… but not as terrible as the bottom two teams on our list this week.
29. Pittsburgh Pirates
At this point they could put Sidney Crosby at shortstop and Ben Roethlisberger at first and the Bucs might be a better watch. But they aren’t as bad as the…
30. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles are 20 games under .500 at home! Cedric Mullins is a budding superstar, Adley Rutschman is on the way and Chris Davis retired. But still, things are brutally bad in Baltimore.