The pennant races in baseball are all nutty thanks to the second wildcard, and the nuttiest is the current cluster-flop in the American League.
Every team, except Oakland and perhaps the LA Angels, have some serious flaws, and of course one of aforementioned teams will have to win the wild card game to make the playoffs proper.
Right now, Kansas City is leading the pack for Wild Card #2, followed closely by Seattle and the Yanks at 1/2 game back, then Toronto at 1 1/2 games behind. Cleveland and Tampa Bay are longÂ shots, but at 5 and 5 1/2 games behind Kansas City, they’re certainly not out of it.
But do those teams really scare anyone?
Oakland and the Angels are seemingly solid from top to bottom (with only the bottom half of LA’s pitching staff being suspect). Nobody wants to play them in the playoffs.
Baltimore is in good shape in the AL East, mainly due to some good luck in that the rest of the East is flaky, and their pitching is pretty darn solid. But their offense has some cancer bats in it (Schoop, Lough, Flaherty) and two other guys (Hardy and Davis) that aren’t hitting near what they could or should. That pitching isn’t spectacular, it’s just…good.
Detroit made a BIG MCLARGE HUGE SPLASH in getting David Price. However, they didn’t shore up their bullpen, where the Joe Nathan Festival of Nausea reigns supreme. Plus, JD Martinez can’t sustain this production for much longer, can he? If he doesn’t, then the Tigers are going to struggle to score runs and as good as Price, Scherzer, and company can be, counting on winning 1-0 and 2-1 isn’t a guarantee for success.
Then there are the potential Wild Card #2 teams. The Mariners haven’t been able to score runs until this past week. Dustin Ackley’s been out of his mind of late and is still just at league average. While rookie Chris Taylor has helped at short, the vaunted pickups of Kendrys Morales and Chris Denorfia have struggled, just like me trying to spell Denorfia the first time through. Scoring is still going to be an issue going forward.
KC’s offense isn’t as bad as Seattle’s, only because the Royals don’t have anyone as heinous as the worst of the Mariners hitters. They have no power, and I don’t know if I can trust some of their rotation over the long haul of these last two months. The bullpen, though, has been incredible. (Wade Davis?!?!?!)Â It makes you wonder the juggernaut the Tigers could be with the Royals pen.
The Yankees have made a lot of moves and skeeterd back into contention. Is it enough? They’re a true over-the-hill gang saddled up for one last ride and have gotten some good performances from some retread pitchers (McCarthy and Capuano, hello!) They could easily creak ahead, or their offensive could fall apart totally like Derek Jeter’s defense. Oh, that fell apart in the 90’s? Well, then.
Then there’s Toronto. I mean, the hell? Yes, injuries have hurt them, but they should have enough offense to clubÂ their way past Baltimore. Their pitching’s not THAT had and they definitely had the means to take a bigger lead before the owies happened. Yet here they are, struggling along and having to play guys like Josh Thole, Steven Tolleson and Danny Valencia in key situations.
So we’ve got a cluster bomb here. Of the five AL teams to make the playoffs, three of them are going to have some gaping weaknesses and a team that may be only the 8th or 9th best team in the league may make the post season because of luck, dumb luck, schedule, and happenstance. Just like you draw it up!
Baseball, being like it is, that team will probably win the World Series. They all might be giants when it comes to the randomness of baseball.