As we head into the final month of the 2023 MLB season, it appears the balance of power in the American League could be shifting from East to West. Going into Monday night’s action, the AL West holds three of the available six playoff spots, something that hasn’t been accomplished by the American League since 2016.


American League West Is Wide Open

Three teams from a division with this much talent shouldn’t shock anyone, but the seeding of the three may surprise us all. A race most of us considered to be a battle of Texas has suddenly transformed into a three-team fight led by JP Crawford and the underdog Seattle Mariners.


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Defending World Series Champion Dusty Baker and the Houston Astros still hold a playoff spot, but have slipped to third in the division. The Astros recent slide can only be matched by the Texas Rangers, who find themselves looking up at someone in the standings for the first time since April 8.


Texas Is Sinking 


Despite Marcus Semien being on pace to break Charlie Blackmon’s all-time record of 107 RBI for a leadoff hitter, Texas has continued to struggle on the field. The Rangers are just 1-9 in the last 10 ball games and find themselves 13-11 in the month of August after starting it 12-2. 


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“We’ve got a lot of baseball to play this last month. Whoever plays the best baseball will be playing at the end. That’s the way I look at it,” said Semien after another disappointing loss. 


The Astros plan to catch the Rangers was centered around the re-acquisition of starting pitcher Justin Verlander, and to his credit he has been everything Dusty’s ball club needed. Verlander is 4-1 in 5 starts for Houston with a 2.79 ERA over 29 innings pitched. 


Houston Pitching Struggling 


Unfortunately, the Astros have struggled to find any sort of pitching consistency outside of Verlander and have won just four of their last 10 ball games entering before their Monday-night matchup with Boston. 


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Neither team from Texas took control of the division after posturing for position before the trade deadline, which left the door wide open for Seattle.  


Seattle Surging To The Top Of Al West 


The Mariners were a club that seemed headed for another year of disappointment but has quickly become one of the best stories in baseball. Seattle is a major league best 36-14 since July 1, and have claimed sole possession of first place in the division for the first time since 2003.


“We have a lot of baseball to go, there is no question about it.,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “But we have played extremely well, really since the first of July. It’s.a testament to our players. They just keep their heads down and focus on getting better.”


Crawford and the Mariners will need to stay hot if they want to lock down a playoff spot, and although the Rangers have the tougher remaining schedule on paper theirs is no cake walk. Seattle still has a series remaining with the Dodgers, Rays, and Astros, and seven games remaining against the Rangers.


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