The Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels are tied for the final spot in the American League Wild Card standings.
The 2017 MLB season has been dominated by a handful of outstanding teams that jumped out to huge early leads. The Astros, Nationals and Dodgers have practically wrapped up their respective divisions, and the Indians and Red Sox have played well enough to give themselves comfortable leads atop the division standings entering the last full week in August.
But there are a couple of interesting races left, including the National League Central, where both the Brewers and Cardinals are in striking distance of the defending World Series champion Cubs, and in both the American League and National League Wild Card standings. The Rockies and Diamondbacks have controlled the NL Wild Card race all summer, but Milwaukee has closed the gap to just 2.5 games, giving the Brewers two legitimate paths to the postseason.
The AL Wild Card race has been tight all year. The Yankees, five games back in the East, are in control of the first Wild Card spot at the moment, but the second playoff spot has been a revolving door. As Sunday came to a close, the Minnesota Twins – winners of four in a row including a dominant three-game sweep over the Diamondbacks – and Los Angeles Angels – winners of three of their last four after a series win in Baltimore – were tied.
And, while Milwaukee and the Cardinals are the only two clubs within four games in the NL Wild Card standings, there are five AL teams within four games of the final playoff spot: the Royals and Mariners sit 1.5 games out of the second spot, followed by the Rangers, Rays and Orioles.
American League Division Leaders
Boston Red Sox (71-52, .577)
Rafael Devers has been red-hot since joining the Red Sox. The 20-year-old rookie is hitting .350/.416/.700 with eight home runs and 16 RBI in 21 games since making his major league debut July 25, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Last week, Devers led Boston with four home runs, nine hits and eight runs scored in six games, and he also drove in six runs. Jackie Bradley, Jr. led the club with eight RBI.
Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello has been far from dominant this season, posting an 8-14 record and 4.48 ERA in 26 starts, but Porcello had a solid week for the Red Sox. In two starts, the right-hander was 2-0 and posted a 2.77 ERA.
Cleveland Indians (68-54, .557)
Winners of eight of their last 10 games, the Cleveland Indians have opened a five-game lead in the American League Central. The Tribe is the only team in the division with a positive run differential. Cleveland ranks second in the AL at plus-130. The pitching staff is largely to thank. Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Royals was the first time the Indians surrendered more than four runs in 12 games.
Eduardo Encarnacion launched four home runs last week ad Jay Bruce and Jason Kipnis added three apiece. Bruce led the club with nine RBI and nine runs scored. Carlos Santana led the team with 11 hits.
Houston Astros (76-48, .613)
Starting pitching remains the largest concern for the Astros down the stretch, but the rotation did good work last week. Dallas Keuchel tossed seven shutout innings Friday night against the A’s, and allowed just three hits and one walk in the win. Charlie Morton and Collin McHugh each posted ERAs under 2.00 last week.