MLB playoff races: Yankees vs. Red Sox to highlight 10 chaotic days

Few things are better than traditional rivals battling for the playoff position in late September. So, with five of baseball’s six divi...


Few things are better than traditional rivals battling for the playoff position in late September. So, with five of baseball’s six divisions appearing to be essentially closed, and the wildcard field in both leagues shrinking to a handful of teams, the next 10 days should generate a lot of interest thanks to two rivalries almost as old as baseball.

In National League West, the San Francisco Giants are looking to fend off the Los Angeles Dodgers for the division title – and the chance to avoid the volatility of a knockout wild game. In the American League, the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox – who face each other in a three-game streak that begins on Friday – are battling for one of the two free spots, with a very real chance that one of the them miss the playoffs.

A look at the open races shows a little room for movement as things wind down, with just enough tension to keep things fun.

Both teams had highs and lows this season, but with nine games left to go, the Red Sox (88-65) lead the Yankees (86-67) by two games for the AL’s top wildcard. Just half a game away from the Yankees – so currently not in contention for a playoff berth heading into Thursday’s games – are the Toronto Blue Jays (85-67), a team with one of the best candidates for the Cy Young Award to Robbie Ray and a higher descent differential (+171) than the teams ahead of them combined (+118).

This weekend’s Boston series could provide some clarity. Friday will be ace versus ace, as Yankees’ Gerrit Cole takes on Red Sox’s Nathan Eovaldi. Saturday’s game will see a sharp drop in all-star power, with Nestor Cortes starting for the Yankees against Nick Pivetta. Sunday night’s game will be somewhere in the middle, with Jordan Montgomery versus Eduardo Rodriguez.

A sweep by either team would tip the race significantly, and the Red Sox and Yankees fight could be good news for the Blue Jays, who start a four-game streak at Minnesota on Thursday and host the Yankees in Toronto next week.

Is it fair that one of these teams be ruled out of the playoffs when all three would easily top the NL East and fight for the division title in AL Central? No. But that’s the reality of the format.

The Giants (99-53), who were written off by most pundits before the season, made it through the regular season, becoming the first team at 70, 80 and 90 wins. They’ll also be the first to 100, and they’ve made it through a combination of returning seasons from pillars of the team’s glory days and breakout seasons of unannounced acquisitions. They’ve hit so many home runs that Ron Wotus, the team’s third baseman, could be running out of time. different ways to tap on five people.

That leaves the defending Dodgers champion (97-55) vying for a wildcard spot despite the second best baseball record. To get a feel for how he’s moved as a wild-card contender, rather than a division leader, Los Angeles has a 14½-game lead over the No.2 team in the wild-card race (St. Louis) and a 19 game lead over Team No.3 (Cincinnati).

Through the acquisition of Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw’s injury return, it’s easy enough to assume that the Dodgers will be an almost unstoppable force once October, but it will all depend on the luck of a single wildcard game unless they are able to overtake. San. Francisco for the head of division.

Both teams have it relatively easy down the home stretch as they each have the chance to beat modest Arizona and mediocre San Diego. But helping San Francisco considerably is that its third opponent in the next 10 days is the Colorado Rockies (71-80); the Dodgers must finish with three games against a strong Milwaukee team who could be motivated to end on a high note.

The good news for baseball is that a victory in the wildcard round by the Giants or the Dodgers would set up an exciting series of divisions between rivals with 100 wins. The bad news is that the two teams cannot survive beyond this turn.

The Chicago White Sox (85-66) has sealed off the AL Central in spring training, the Tampa Bay Rays (94-59) are expected to close the AL East soon and the Houston Astros (91-61) have no real challenger in the AL West. The Milwaukee Brewers (91-61) built a large enough lead in the NL center that a push from the Cardinals of Saint-Louis (82-69) should be unsuccessful.

That leaves the only real hopes for movement, behind the NL West and the wildcard AL, in the NL East, where the Philadelphia Phillies (78-74) try to challenge the Atlanta Braves (80-70), and the second NL wild card, where the Cincinnati Reds (78-74) fell a little too far behind the Cardinals.

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Newsrust - US Top News: MLB playoff races: Yankees vs. Red Sox to highlight 10 chaotic days
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