With seven games or less remaining for every Major League team, the 2021 MLB playoff picture is finally taking shape.
While some races are just about wrapped up, there are several key matchups remaining that will be heavily effected by the MLBbros still in the hunt for postseason glory.
The Chicago White Sox were the first team to clinch their division, and superstar shortstop Tim Anderson made sure they did so in dramatic fashion.
Anderson came up huge with his squad on the verge of their first division title since 08, slapping two opposite field bombs against Cleveland to help deliver the Central Division crown in a 7-2 win.
The victory cements the White Sox in the 3rd seed, where they are most likely to face Michael Brantley and the Houston Astros.
The Sox dropped the season series to Houston 5-2, but took two of three from the Astros in August on the south side.
As for Dusty Baker and the Astros, only a collapse from the Tampa Bay Rays could propel them from the third seed to the top spot in the American League.
However, in what seems to be a scripted twist of fate, the Astros host the Rays for three games this week in H-Town. If there was ever a time for Michael Brantley and the gang to catch fire, any opportunity to clinch the one seed should be more than enough motivation.
Houston will clinch its division this week, but that won’t eliminate the playoff hopes of their AL West rivals the Seattle Mariners. J.P Crawford and the Mariners are 7-3 in their last 10 games and look poised to swipe the final wildcard spot.
Seattle has the easiest path to a playoff spot, with five games remaining against the Angels and three games against the Athletics.
The Yankees are locked in a battle with the Boston Red Sox, and the winner of this series will leave with the wild card lead. Once they finish in Boston, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge have to run the gauntlet, with their two final series against the Blue Jays and Rays.
The final week of the National League is set up for a dramatic finish. Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers have been on fire for the bulk of the second half, yet still trail the San Francisco Giants in a battle for the NL West crown.
One reason the Dodgers haven’t been able to catch the Giants is the late inning heroics of LaMonte Wade Jr.. Wade is hitting .320 in his last 7 games, but its his 12 hits in 19 ninth inning at-bats.
San Fran has been able to weather the storm down the stretch, but with both teams having a light schedule down the stretch this could really go either way.
Fortunately for us, no matter how the NL west ends, there’s still an opportunity for a Dodgers/Giants divisional round, seeing as though whoever wins the NL West will be the number one seed in the National League. So once the wild card.
Jack Flaherty and the St. Louis Cardinals are in the midst of a historic run toward October, winning 15 straight on their way to a commanding 5 game wildcard lead.
The Cards have completely lapped the field in the wildcard, forcing Andrew McCutchen and the Philadelphia Phillies Into a Division Title or bust scenario heading toward October.
The Phillies have their destiny in their own hands this season, as the upcoming three game set against the Braves will more than likely determine the division champion.
If they manage to escape with the division crown, they slot for a battle with Lorenzo Cain, Jackie Bradley Jr. and the Milwaukee Brewers, who’s current magic number sits at two games.
With so much uncertainty headed into the final week, it will be interesting to see what Bros step up to solidify their teams status headed into October.
Cedric Mullins has been one of the few good things about the Baltimore Orioles, and Saturday afternoon he once again showed you why he remains a lone bright spot in their season.
The Orioles lost 9-3 to the Boston Red Sox, But after going 2-for-4 with two stolen bases, the young star crept closer to joining the exclusive “30/30 Club”.
Now entrance into the 30-30 club would be cause for celebration any year, but with the Orioles in the midst of another 100 loss season, such an accomplishment gives the ballclub hope for the future.
“When you have a season like this, you are looking for bright spots and things to build on for the future,” manager Brandon Hyde told MLB.com. “Looking for cornerstone guys that, when the team does get competitive and does get good, that you can surround them with. The right kind of players, veteran players, the right pitching staff. Cedric Mullins is playing like that, there’s not a doubt about it. Playing like an All-Star.”
Indeed Mullins has flashed all the tools you would want your cornerstone franchise player to possess, but the exclusivity of the 30-30 club signifies just how high his ceiling is.
Once he connects on his 30th bomb of the season, Mullins will be the 41st player to join the 30-30 club, and the 18th Black player to join this illustrious group.
First accomplished in 1922 by Ken Williams, once Willie Mays cracked the club in 1956, the brothers dominated with Mays (two), Hank Aaron, Bobby Bonds (five) and Tommy Harper recording the next nine 30-30 seasons.
1987 was a special season for the MLBbro’s on the base paths and at the plate, as Black legends Joe Carter, Eric Davis and Darryl Strawberry compiled three of the four 30-30 seasons recorded that year.
Willie Mays and Bobby Bonds were the only two players in MLB history to accomplish the feat in back-to-back seasons, that was until his son, Home Run King Barry Bonds went on to do it three straight times from 95-97, which helped him match his fathers all time total of five.
Of the 17 Black ballplayers to join this elite group, there are five who have gone on to win League MVP Awards as well as carry their teams to a World Series Championship.
If Cedric Mullins has his way, the Baltimore Orioles will return to their winning ways of the past sooner than people expect. And If the O’s keep him around he’s sure to be a cornerstone of their rebirth.
In an era that places emphasis on slugging percentage, exit velocity and several other metrics meant to enhance run production, there are many who question the importance of a high batting average.
Despite these recent naysayers, MLBbros like Houston Astros outfielder Michael Brantley and Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson continue to show the value of having a batting champion in the lineup.
On Friday, both Brantley and Anderson, along with fellow MLBbro Cedric Mullins, held three of the top five spots for batting average in the American League.
By Saturday it was a completely different story.
With less than 20 games to go, will any of the bros be able to catch Starling Marte for the batting crown?
Cedric Mullins has been killing all season in a Baltimore Orioles lineup that doesn’t afford him much protection. He’s on his way to a 30-30 season despite playing on a team void of superstar talent.
While winning the crown would be dope, this late season stretch represents more than a batting title for Anderson and Brantley.
Both of their teams are in first place and with each team’s magic number under 20, the only scoreboard watching necessary will involve each other.
The Tampa Bay Rays currently hold a 5-game lead in the American League, which means at this point the Astros and White Sox are battling for second.
The Astros are 5-2 against the White Sox this season, so in order to secure that second spot, the White Sox will need to make up some ground on Houston.
Unfortunately for Chicago, Anderson has been mostly unavailable in September. After racking up 10 hits, 5 RBI and hitting an impressive .323 over his last 7 games played, Anderson was placed on the IL with what has been described as hamstring soreness.
Anderson’s presence has been missed at the top of the lineup, as the team has struggled to score runs against quality opponents at times.
Over their last five games as of Saturday, the White Sox have hit just .250 (9-for-36) with runners in scoring position.
Even with his team struggling to score and his average sliding in the ranks, Anderson remains focused on the main goal; a deep run in October.
The American League Wild Card race is packed with MLBbros looking to make a big impact on this year’s playoffs.
We’ve already told you about the Bros from the Bronx leading the Yankees surge to the top of the Wild Card standings, and they currently hold a one-game lead over the field.
The Boston Red Sox and Yankees are pulling away from the pack and headed on a collision course for a one-game Wild Card playoff. But with at least 25 more games remaining for all teams involved, the final spot is still up for grabs.
The recent marriage of Josh Harrison and the Oakland A’s is an example of a player whose swagger is perfect for the City he represents. Harrison, who was acquired at the deadline, has been “Mr. Do It All” for the A’s.
Harrison has taken the majority of his reps at second base, but he also plays third, shortstop, and left field for Oakland. He’s also efficient at the plate.
Over his last seven games, Harrison has racked up 12 hits, is batting .375 and slugging .469. His latest contributions have been particularly important to the A’s because they’ve come from the leadoff spot.
Harrison has hit leadoff before, and his approach to the process gives you a look into his mindset as a ballplayer.
“I take pride in being leadoff,” Harrison said when asked about his new role with his team.
“More than anything, it’s going to take one through nine, if we can jump out early and set with hitters up front, I think — I don’t want to say makes the job easier — you still got to play 27 outs, it’s all about getting to that pitcher and getting to that bullpen.”
Harrison and the offense will be key to any run the Athletics are able to make, as their pitching staff has certainly done their part.
J.P Crawford and the Seattle Mariners have overcome offensive inconsistencies to end up in the thick of things as we wind down, but one of the major boosts they were expecting for the playoff push, may not be arriving at all. Seattle sits 4.5 games out of the Wild Card slot with 27 games left.
With a healthy 2020 NL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis, the Mariner’s had a puncher’s chance. Unfortunately, Lewis, who has been recovering from in-season surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, suffered a setback in his rehab putting his return this season in doubt.
“He’s not feeling that great,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said when asked about Lewis’ rehab. “He’s had a little setback here the last few days. He really picked up his activity level there, trying to get to the point where he could go out in a rehab.”
What a tough break for a guy who was a popular preseason pick for American League MVP. If he doesn’t return, Lewis would finish this season with a disappointing 130 at-bats. He had 206 at-bats in 2020 in an MLB season shortened to 60 games by COVID-19.
The setback to Lewis puts more pressure on Crawford and the remaining Mariners as they battle for the final playoff spot. The Gold Glover Crawford is slashing .276/.364/.310 over the past seven games but will need to take it to another level if Seattle really stands a chance.
Toronto Blue Jays
Marcus Semien’s Blue Jays were extremely active at the deadline, but they’re still just treading water in the Wild Card race. Despite going 6-4 in their last 10 games, Toronto remains 5 games out of the final playoff spot.
If it’s any small consolation, Semien got a bit of revenge on his former squad with his walk-off 3-run bomb on Saturday, but that stands as one of the lone bright spots for the Toronto second basemen of late.
Hopefully, the return of fellow MLBbro George Springer can provide a spark for Semien and the Blue Jays. An ignited Blue Jays offense would provide the fireworks we want to see heading into this fantastic finish. Playing in the toughest division in the American League doesn’t help either.
October is right around the corner, and the playoff picture is slowly but surely becoming clearer. As we wind down the year, let’s keep an eye on these MLBbros as they make the final push for playoff glory.
The second half of the season started with big aspirations for the MLBbros in both boroughs.
For the Bros from the Bronx, slugging outfielders Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, they faced an uphill climb in order to re-enter the playoff picture in the stacked American League East after stumbling through the first half.
While there was a feeling of impending doom in the Bronx, the forecast in Queens was a lot brighter. Sitting in first place with Lefty Dominic Smith heating up and melanated mound marauders Taijuan Walker and Marcus Stroman tossing gems, the Metropolitans looked to simply hold on and extend their lead in the NL East.
Both squads added pieces at the break they felt would help their playoff hopes immediately. The Mets added slugging infielder Javier Baez, and the Yankees did what the Yankees do, grabbing two of the biggest names on the trade market in Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo.
But unfortunately, the baseball gods have only been raining down blessings in the Bronx lately, usually in the form of a Giancarlo Stanton missile or another bomb off the bat of perennial MVP candidate Aaron Judge.
“We’re clicking on all cylinders,” said Stanton. “We’re grinding away at the opponent. We’ve discussed what it took to get here and how we’ve all fed off each other, the work that we’ve all put in. It’s cool to see it develop.”
We told you about his move back to the outfield, but over the last seven games, Stanton has been exhibiting throwback power. Giancarlo has hit .320, launched 4 homers and driven in 8 RBI in the Yankees last seven games.
He’s been underappreciated by Yankees fans all season.
As for Aaron “All Rise” Judge, his 29 home runs and 72 RBI have been the constant thunder the Yankees needed to leapfrog the Boston Red Sox and claim sole possession of second place.
Thanks to this offensive explosion, the scorching hot Yanks have positioned themselves to put the pressure on the Rays down the stretch.
Questions in Queens
The Mets seemed poised to finish strong down the stretch, with Walker and Stroman cruising and superstar Francisco Lindor’s expected return to the lineup and provide even more pop. Unfortunately for the Queen’s faithful, it seems like the exact opposite has happened for the Mets.
After dominating out the gate, it’s been ugly lately for one half of the melanated mound marauders. Over his last six starts, Taijuan Walker is 0-6 with a 5.72 ERA, giving up 36 hits in 39.1 innings pitched.
As for Dominic Smith, after a brief resurgence at the beginning of the year, Smith’s production has fallen off the map. Over his last 30 games, Smith has hit .204 with zero homers and just 9 RBI.
The struggles of these MLBbros have added to the Mets tumble down the division, but there has still been a lone, Durag-wearing bright spot.
Despite his 9-12 record, Marcus Stroman has a sparkling 2.85 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, numbers reminiscent of the 2020 Cy Young Award winner. Marcus has stepped up in the absence of ace Jacob DeGrom, looking dominant over his last seven starts.
Unfortunately for Stro Show, the Mets offense has been anemic, often wasting his amazing performances. Once the division leader, the Mets season continues to slowly slip away, with no relief in sight.
After seeming poised to take the spotlight from big bro over in the Bronx, it’s beginning to look a lot like business as usual in New York.