Move over Kansas City! After spending almost the entire year as the American League favorites, the Royals have been ousted from the top of the rankings this week. In the midst of their second double-digit win-streak of the season, the Toronto Blue Jays have rocketed past the defending AL Champs and into the hearts of fans everywhere as the odds-on favorite to go to the World Series.
Boosted by the acquisitions of Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, the Jays have started getting the results you would expect from the MLB’s top offense. With the best ERA in the majors since the All-Star Break, the holes that once threatened to sink the Jays’ ship have been plugged, and now they look like the team to beat.
Thanks to strong play all season, Kansas City is still six games up on Toronto, and will likely get home-field advantage for the playoffs (including the World Series, thanks to Mike Trout). But this is not just a two-horse race; no matter how bad the Yankees, Astros, and Angels have looked over the past few weeks, they’re all still capable of doing damage come October.
With about a month-and-a-half left in the regular season, it’s time for another check on who’s likely to make up the AL playoff picture when all is said and done.
Odds to win the AL East:
When the Jays traded for Tulowitzki, they were eight games behind the Yankees. They’ve crawled out of that hole in just over two weeks to take the lead. But these teams still have seven games against each other after this weekend: plenty of opportunity for either one to make up ground.
Still, the Jays’ rotation looks re-energized with Price at the front. R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, and Marco Estrada, have all been great lately, as well, and the bullpen has been superb since the acquisitions of Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins. The Yanks will need more out of their starters down the stretch, particularly C.C. Sabathia.
The Orioles, and somewhat surprisingly the Rays, are still very much in the playoff hunt thanks to basically every Wild Card hopeful playing subpar ball. But, sitting five games back with two teams to leap frog, Baltimore and Tampa will likely be relegated to that Wild Card chase.
Odds to win the AL Central:
Odds to win the AL West:
What was a high-octane race before the All-Star Break has slowed down to more of a battle of hybrid cars; efficient if somewhat boring. Both the Angels and Astros have been on slides in August, but their timely sucking has helped keep the race at the top close. Houston and L.A. face off six more times, and while those games will have huge implications, both need to keep an eye on the Rangers.
Texas has crept up, now sitting just five games back, and won their last series against the leaders, including a three-game sweep of the Astros. The acquisition of Cole Hamels has this team thinking both short and long term, and at the very least they should be in the Wild Card race until the end.
Speaking of which …
Odds to finish in the Wild Card spots:
(Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Originally posted to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].)
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