Although the Chicago Cubs are only 9 games above .500, they maintain a 2.5 game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks in the NL Central Division as of Monday, August 21. The St. Louis Cardinals are only 3.5 games behind Chicago.
2017 August Week 4 Power Rankings
That’s the biggest news in the NL where Arizona and Colorado, both in the NL West, have maintained their lead over their competition for the Wildcard. Milwaukee is only 4 games behind Arizona, and 4.5 games behind Colorado, for a Wildcard spot. The St. Louis Cardinals are only 5 games behind the D’Backs for the final NL Wildcard spot.
In the American League, it’s all about the Wildcard. The New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals, and L.A. Angeles are all within shouting distance of each other for 2 Wildcard spots. The Yankees appear destined for one of the Wildcards. The other Wildcard is up for grabs. Every day, every game, is meaningful to the Yanks, Twins, Royals, and Halos.
Get ready for a wild end to the 2017 MLB Regular Season!
American League – Top 5
1. Houston Astros 76-48
The good news is that Houston has started to have winning weeks again. The Stros have gone 4 and 3 in their last 7 games. They beat Arizona, a top NL squad, in 2 out of 4 last week. Houston then beat the Oakland Athletics in 2 out of 3.
Dallas Kuechel finally pitched a fantastic game. Kuechel must have a great post-season for the Stros to make it to the World Series. Even if Kuechel has a great postseason, it’s no guarantee Houston gets to the World Series. But, the Stros are dead in the water if Kuechel can’t keep up his great form.
On August 18, Kuechel threw 7 innings, and yielded 0 earned runs off 3 hits. He’ll need to be that good every time he steps to the mound once the MLB Playoffs start.
2. Boston Red Sox 71-53
The Red Sox maintain a 4.5 game lead over the New York Yankees. Once again Boston proved that it might just be better than New York this season. The Red Sox beat the Yankees in 2 out of 3 last week.
In Sunday’s 5 to 1 win, Sonny Gray pitched 5 innings. He allowed only 2 earned runs off 7 hits. If Boston’s bullpen can help out Red Sox starters consistently, Boston could have a great chance at making it to the World Series this fall.
In addition to Gray, Rick Porcello’s form appears to be coming around. Porcello, who won the Cy Young last year, threw for 6 innings. He allowed 1 earned run off 3 hits. The Red Sox beat the rival Yankees 5 to 1.
3. Cleveland Indians 69-54
Cleveland helped their own cause last week. The Tribe beat Kansas City in 2 out of 3. As of August 21, Cleveland is now 7 games ahead of the Royals. Cleveland also beat Minnesota in 2 out of 4 with one of the game being rained out.
The Tribe does have something to worry about. After appearing unhittable in his last 7 starts, Danny Salazar imploded on August 20. Salazar lasted 4.2 innings. He yielded 6 earned runs off 12 hits to the Royals in a 4 to 7 Tribe loss. Salazar must get back on track. Corey Kluber can’t do it alone.
4. New York Yankees 66-57
The Yankees had a fantastic week. It must be looked at with some perspective, though. Yes, the Yankees won 4 games in a row. But, the team the Yankees beat, the New York Mets, has no shot at making it to the MLB Playoffs this season. New York lost 2 out of 3 to the rival Boston Red Sox. That must be disappointing since the Red Sox are the Yankees biggest rivals.
New York can’t miss a beat. Their hold on one of the 2 Wildcard spots might be in jeopardy if the Yankees falter.
5. Minnesota Twins 64-60
Minnesota is a half a game ahead of the L.A. Angels for the final AL Wildcard spot. Minny swept the Arizona Diamondbacks 3 to 0 last week. They’ve gone 1 and 1 with the Chicago White Sox with the third game happening on Tuesday, August 22.
Sweeping the D’Backs is no joke. If Minnesota can maintain their lead over the Angels, and hold off the Royals, who knows? The Twins might be a tough team in the postseason. The best news for Minnesota is that ace Ervin Santana hasn’t yielded more than 3 earned runs in his last 4 starts. The Twins won all 4 of those starts.
National League – Top 5
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 88-35
What can I write about the Dodgers? The best team in baseball just keeps winning. Last week, the Dodgers beat the Chicago White Sox 6 to 1 and 5 to 4. Then, they beat up another AL Central Division team, the Detroit Tigers, 8 to 5 and 3 to 0. Detroit did beat LAD 6 to 1 in the third game of the 3-game series.
But, L.A. bounced back with a 6 to 5 win over Pittsburgh on August 21. The Dodgers find a way. Somehow, they just always find a way.
2. Washington Nationals 74-48
The Nats split with the Angels in a 2-game set to start last week. Washington beat LAA 3 to 1 while the Halos beat the Nationals 3 to 2. Washington then put a beating on the San Diego Padres by winning 3 out of 4 games.
The key for the Nats is that they’re winning while Bryce Harper sits on the DL. That’s big. If Washington can continue to win ball games with Harper on the DL, how tough are they going to be once Harper comes off the DL? Washington’s starters are still pitching deep into games. That’s somewhat worrisome.
Still, winning games without Bryce is a great sign.
3. Chicago Cubs 66-57
Splitting with Cincinnati to start the week wasn’t a great sign. The Reds beat the Cubs in 2 out of 4 in the strangest way. The first game ended with a 2 to 1 Reds’ win. The second Cincy victory ended at 13 to 10.
The Cubs bounced back by sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays. Sweeping the Blue Jays isn’t as impressive this season as it would have been 2 seasons ago when Toronto had decent starters after Marcus Stroman. Luckily for the Cubbies, neither the St. Louis Cardinals, nor the Milwaukee Brewers took advantage.
4. Colorado Rockies 68-56
The Rockies are now 4 and 9 in their last 13. What’s disturbing is that Colorado has lost to teams that they should have beaten. The Miami Marlins swept the Rockies in 3 games: 6 to 3, 4 to 3, and 5 to 3. The Atlanta Braves split with the Rockies. The Braves beat Colorado 4 to 3 and 10 to 4.
It’s a bad sign that Colorado had trouble with a couple of teams that have no shot at the postseason. But, the Rockies maintain a half a game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks. That’s not a bad thing. One thing to watch for is how Kyle Freeland bounces back from one of his worst outings as a pro in some time.
Freeland lasted 5.2 innings versus the Milwaukee Brewers on August 20. He yielded 2 earned runs off 4 hits. That’s not what was terrible. What was terrible is that Freeland walked 5 batters. That averages out to about a batter an inning. The Brew Crew beat the Rockies 8 to 4.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks 68-57
Houston beat the D’Backs in 2 out of 3 last week: 9 to 4 and 9 to 5. Then, the Twins swept Arizona: 10-3, 5-0, and 12-5. Zona, probably because they were just happy to not play an American League squad, beat the New York Mets 3 to 2 on August 21.
The best news for the Diamondbacks is that Robbie Ray is on the 7-day DL. What it means is that Ray should have a start this week. Neither Arizona nor Colorado can take any games off. Milwaukee is only 4 games behind the D’Backs for the final NL Wildcard spot. Arizona must win every game they can. It begins with getting Robbie Ray, who has an unreal 1.47 road ERA, back into the starting rotation.