Only one huge change occurs in this week’s MLB Power Rankings. The World Series defending champion Chicago Cubs finally tied the Milwaukee Brewers at the top of the NL Central Division.
That happened much quicker than I thought it would. If Chicago can get into the NL Playoffs, they might be the one team that can beat the L.A. Dodgers for the National League Pennant. In the American League things are steady.
MLB Power Rankings – 2017 July Week 4
Houston remains the Big Dog. Boston remains the best team in the AL East Division. Cleveland remains tops in the AL Central. The Yankees and Rays switched spots. It doesn’t matter much. If the MLB Playoffs started today, NYY and TB would play each other in the AL Wildcard Game.
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American League – Top 5 2017 July Week 4 Power Rankings
1. Houston Astros 65-33
The Baltimore Orioles Zach Britton set an American League record with his 55th straight save this Sunday in a 9 to 7 win over the Houston Astros. The save didn’t matter much. The Stros still beat the O’s in 2 out of 3 to win the 3-game series.
Earlier in the week, the best team in the American League went 1 and 2 in a 3-game set versus the Seattle Mariners. That was more disturbing than Sunday’s loss.
The big question surrounding Houston is what’s up with Lance McCuller Jr.? Counting the loss to the Orioles, McCullers Jr. now is 0-1 with a 9.88 ERA in 3 starts in July.
2. Boston Red Sox 55-45
The Red Sox dropped 2 out of 3 over the weekend to the L.A. Angels. That’s not good news for Boston or their fans. LAA ran David Price off after only 5 innings in Saturday’s loss. Price allowed 5 earned runs off 7 hits. He walked 3.
In Sunday’s loss, Rick Porcello pitched well enough for the win. He lasted 8 innings, allowed only 3 earned runs off 5 hits, and struck out 6. But, Boston could only hang 2 onto L.A. starter Parker Bridwell.
Luckily for Boston, the teams on their heels in the AL East, the Yankees and Rays, weren’t spectacular this past week.
3. Cleveland Indians 51-45
The Tribe is 1.5 games ahead of Kansas City, and 2.5 games ahead of Minnesota in the AL Central Division. Ace Corey Kluber was amazing in an 8 to 1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday. He struck out 14 Blue Jays. The 14 strikeouts include striking out at least every batter in the line-up once.
The AL Central is looking like Cleveland’s to win or lose. Minnesota probably won’t pick it up from here. I think the Tribe and KC battle it out for the AL Central Division from now until the end of the regular season. If Cleveland can beat the Royals, they’ll make it to the post-season.
4. New York Yankees 51-46
New York has a big shot to overtake the Red Sox in the AL East. The Yankees beat Boston in 2 out of 3 before this past week. They finished off the week by beating the tough Seattle Mariners in 3 out of 4.
What happened in between those stellar performances? The Minnesota Twins beat New York in 2 out of 3. The Yankees must get consistent if they want to catch Boston.
The key is starter Masahiro Tanaka. I thought his form was turning around. I was wrong. He yielded 4 earned runs off 7 hits to the Twins this past Saturday. We’ll see how Tanaka fairs this week. The Yankees need him to have any shot at catching the Red Sox.
5. Tampa Bay Rays 51-48
The 0-3 weekend sweep at the hands of the Rangers wasn’t good at all. Tampa Bay played like a team without any real stars. The Rays are one of the toughest teams in MLB. They give it their all every single game.
But, their ace, Chris Archer, is 0-1-2 in his last 3 starts. When your ace can’t shut the door on your opponents, you flounder. That might be what’s happening to the TB Rays.
National League – Top 5 2017 July Week 4 Power Rankings
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 68-31
The best team in baseball had a decent week. They beat the Chicago White Sox twice. They went 2-2 versus the Atlanta Braves. Sunday’s 5 to 4 win over the Braves comes with a huge asterisk. Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw only lasted 2.0 innings.
Kershaw strained his back. The injury is so significant that this morning’s big MLB story is about how LAD has interest in acquiring the Texas Rangers’ Yu Darvish. Without Kershaw, and if they don’t make a play for Darvish, the Dodgers could be in some trouble.
2. Washington Nationals 59-38
Maybe, the Nats bullpen is finally coming around. Washington allowed 2 runs in a 6 to 2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. What’s interesting is that Stephen Strasburg only pitched for 2 innings due to arm stiffness in the second. What it means is that the Nats bullpen had to step it up big time at Chase Field versus one of the better hitting teams in the NL.
That wasn’t the big news for Washington this past week. The big news is that Max Scherzer only lasted 5 innings versus the D’Backs on July 21. He just wasn’t himself when allowing 3 home runs, and 5 earned runs, off 8 hits. We’ll find out this week if Scherzer’s bad performance was just an anomaly.
3. Milwaukee Brewers 53-48
As of Monday, July 24, the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs are in a statistical tie atop the NL Central Division. The Brewers have won 1 games out of their last 8. That’s a terrible sign. It’s particularly terrible because the Pirates swept Milwaukee last week while the Phillies beat them in 2 out of 3.
3A. Chicago Cubs 51-46
The Chicago Cubs have been on a roll. While the Brewers have lost 7 out of their last 8, the Cubbies have won 8 out of their last 9. Jose Quintana pitched another decent game this past Sunday.
He lasted 6 innings and allowed only 3 earned runs off 5 hits. He struck out 7 and walked 2. Because Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon has a great hitting team, the Cubs don’t need Quintana to lock down a batting lineup.
If Jake Arrieta’s form continues to come around, and if Jon Lester returns to the Lester of old, Chicago might be the team to beat in the National League.
4. Colorado Rockies 58-42
The Rockies leap-frogged the D’Backs for 4th place in the NL Playoff race. Colorado’s best performance was on Sunday when they dominated the Pittsburgh Pirates 13 to 3. Kyle Freeland had another great day on the mound. He allowed 2 earned runs off 6 hits in 6 innings pitched.
The Rockies’ bullpen isn’t too shabby. If Colorado can get quality starts out of Freeland and Jon Gray, they’ll win some games in the post-season. If they can add a starter like Yu Darvish, Justin Verlander, or Sonny Gray, they’d really be tough to deal with.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks 56-42
Arizona did go 3 and 3 in their 6 games last week. That’s actually good news. Arizona was on the ropes, losing game after game, before this past week. Can the Diamondbacks keep it up?
To keep it up, AZ must only do one thing…not start Robbie Ray at Chase Field. When Robbie Ray pitches on the road, his ERA is under 2.00. At home? It’s terrible. Ray’s home woes continued this past Sunday when Robbie lasted only 5 innings while allowing 4 earned runs off 5 hits. The D’Backs lost 2 to 6 to the Nats.