Heading into August, a couple of baseball’s division races are close. In the AL West, the Houston Astros have surprisingly been caught by the Angels. The New York Mets and Washington Nationals are only two games apart and the NL West looks like it is coming down to the wire.
Many of the other divisions seem like the leader will hold on to first place, and a couple trades that happened this week strengthen that thought.
With the final weeks and months upon us, here are our MLB division predictions headed into the playoffs.
AL East: New York Yankees
The Yankees are being led offensively by Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, each with 24 home runs. As of today, they’ve had as much as a seven-game lead on Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles. You have to wonder how their pitching will hold up down the stretch and potentially in the playoffs. They’re in the lower third of the league in ERA but their bats have carried them, being second in the MLB in home runs and RBIs. The Rays were challenging them, but have faded over the last month. Toronto added Troy Tulowitzki but didn’t address their pitching needs. The Yankees will take care of business at least up until October.
AL Central: Kansas City Royals
The Royals have the biggest lead of any division leader at eight games, and now they added ace Johny Cueto to their rotation. This puts them over the top and easily one of the best teams in baseball. The Minnesota Twins are chasing them, but the usual division leader Detroit Tigers might be in sell mode this trade deadline.They lead the AL in ERA and It could be shaping up to be the Royals’ year in the AL again. The Twins have a very little chance to catch them.
AL West: Los Angeles Angels
With the resurgence of Albert Pujos, the Angels now posses to of the leagues top bats, the other being Mike Trout of course. They are third in the AL in ERA and rookie Andrew Heaney is 5-0 after being called up when Jared Weaver went on the DL. The only thing is they only have a one-game lead on the biggest surprise in baseball, the Houston Astros. Houston has a strong bullpen and a few big hitters, so they won’t be going away easy. The Angels, who have been there many times, will come through on top, especially if Jared Weaver can return to form.
NL East: Washington Nationals
Perhaps the most underachieving division leader, they only hold a two-game lead over the Mets. A lot of that can be blamed on the pitching. Gio Gonzoalez hasn’t replicated his great 2012 season and Strasburg has been an injured mess. Max Scherzer is great and Drew Storen has been almost perfect as a closer. The Mets are searching for some bats during the trade deadline, but unless they strike a major deal, they don’t have enough firepower to keep up with Bryce Harper and company.
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
Another team already leading their division, they have a 6.5-game lead on the Pirates. There’s not much to suggest that will change as they’ve had the best record in baseball throughout the season. They have the leagues best ERA and the second best bullpen statically. Plus, they’ve been here a million times and have more playoff experience than anyone else. Unless the Pittsburgh Pirates get red hot, they should comfortable clinch the division down the stretch.
NL West: San Francisco Giants
The Giants and Dodgers will have the closest race of the year, likely coming down to the final days. Bumgarder and Heston each have 11 wins for the Giants and they have a better bullpen than LA. Grienke is having a crazy season and Kershaw has quietly pulled his ERA down to 2.51, but the are fourth in baseball in average and are more consistent offensively. The loser of this race will likely make the wild card.