Every week from now until the end of the season, our website will release our MLB Power rankings. Since the number nine is pivotal to the game of baseball, we will reveal our top nine teams each week. Having said that, here is our countdown for this week, starting with number nine.
9. Oakland Athletics
Current Record: 64-49 (Currently 0.5 games back of the 2nd Wild Card)
The Oakland A’s are 6-4 in their last ten games and currently find themselves one spot out of the playoffs if the season ended today. That earns them the ninth spot in our power rankings. They had won six of their last seven games until last night’s 6-5 loss at Wrigley Field against the Cubs. Last week, they went 4-1, taking two of three against Milwaukee, and both games against St. Louis. They will spend this entire week in Chicago, as they have two more games with the Cubs, and then three against the White Sox. The A’s would probably be happy with a split in the next two games against the Cubs, but will then be looking to sweep the White Sox this weekend.
The A’s have a veteran pitching staff that is led by Mike Fiers. Fiers has been unbelievable this season, giving up three runs or less in eighteen straight starts. They will be looking for key help from Tanner Roark and Homer Bailey, two pitchers that they acquired in trades during the month of July. On offense, they have been able to push through a bad year by Khris Davis with the help of young players like Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, and Ramon Laureano.
8. Chicago Cubs
Current Record: 61-51 (NL Central Division Leader)
The Cubs have finally taken charge (for the time being) of the NL Central and currently sit at number eight in our power rankings. After sweeping an important series against the Brewers, they took the first game of a three game set against the A’s. This week, they have two games against the A’s at Wrigley Field, and then travel to Cincinnati for four games. The Cubs have been dominant at home (40-18), but have struggled mightily on the road (21-33). Brewers and Cardinals fans are happy to see the Reds on the Cubs schedule, as the Cubs are 5-7 against the Reds this season, and 2-4 at Cincinnati.
The Cubs will have to overcome some recent injuries. Willson Contreras is going to be out at least a month with a hamstring injury. Then, Craig Kimbrel also landed on the IL with a knee injury. Kimbrel is expected to return after his 10 day IL stint. For the time being, the Cubs will probably employ a closer by committee type situation, with the ineffectiveness of Pedro Strop and Steve Cishek in recent games. Last night’s ninth inning was split between Kyle Ryan and David Phelps, and the game ended on a fly-out to the wall that would have given the A’s an 8-6 lead if it went three feet farther. This will be a very important week for the Cubs.
7. Cleveland Indians
Current Record: 66-46 (holder of the 1st AL Wild Card spot)
The Indians have taken advantage of a soft schedule in June and July and find themselves at number seven in our power rankings. The Indians found themselves one game over .500 on June 10 (33-32), and now find themselves 20 games over .500. Even if they have had a soft schedule in June and July, they went 33-14 in their last 47 games, which is pretty darn good. The troubling thing for Indians fans may be their struggles against other playoff teams, as they have lost home series against the Astros and Twins since returning from the All-Star break.
On Monday night, they lost a 1-0 game to the Texas Rangers. Mike Minor was outstanding and the Indians bats were held silent. They have two more games with Texas before travelling to Minnesota for a very important four game set. They are 4-5 against the Twins this season, which means they still have ten games to go with the Twins. They are currently four games behind the Twins in the AL Central, so a run at the division lead will be something they have control over down the stretch.
6. Tampa Bay Rays
Current Record: 65-49 (Holder of the 2nd AL Wild Card Spot)
The Rays had won six straight games before losing 2-0 to Toronto on Monday night. They currently sit at number six in our power rankings. Last week, they put some space between them and the Red Sox in the AL East by sweeping the Red Sox at Fenway Park. This week should be a good week on paper for the Rays as they have a very soft schedule. They have two more games against the Blue Jays, and then travel to Seattle for a three game set against the struggling Mariners.
The Rays have put together a makeshift rotation due to key injuries with their pitching staff. Blake Snell is not expected to return until September after having elbow surgery. A quick bright spot for the Rays has been Eric Sogard, who they acquired at the trade deadline from Toronto. Since being traded to the Rays, Sogard is 6 for 17, which includes a 2 HR, 5 RBI game on Saturday against the Marlins. On paper, this should be a good week for Tampa Bay, but with their up and down season, a down week probably wouldn’t shock too many people.
5. Atlanta Braves
Current Record: 66-48 (Leader of the NL East by 6 Games)
The Braves have put some distance between themselves and the other teams in their division with plus .500 records. The Braves will spend the entire week on the road, as they have two more games in Minnesota, and then travel to Miami for 4 more games. Realistically, the Braves should go 4-2 in these next six games. They have had a lot of injuries in the past few weeks, with Dansby Swanson and Nick Markakis both going to the IL.
The Braves’ starting rotation has done well this season, but may be put to the test down the stretch. While Mike Soroka has been magnificent this season, Dallas Keuchel is 3-4, Max Fried has an ERA over 4.00, Julio Teheran is 6-7 (even though he has been pitching better), and Mike Foltynewicz is just returning from AAA. The Braves are averaging 5.29 runs per game and may need to keep that level of offense up down the home stretch.
4. Minnesota Twins
Current Record: 70-42(AL Central Division Leader by 4 games)
This will be a big week for the Minnesota Twins. They spend all week at home, but have to play two very good opponents. They start with a three game series against Atlanta, the first of which they won 5-3 last night. Then, they have an important four game series against the Indians. Even though being at home sounds great, the Twins are the only team in baseball that have the exact same record at home and on the road right now, as they are 35-21 at home and on the road.
The Twins are winners of four straight and are 8-2 in their last ten games. They have the 2nd best run differential in the AL (+143), and are averaging an astounding 5.78 runs per game. The big question for the Twins will circle around what kind of performances they will get from their starting rotation. Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Martin Perez, Kyle Gibson, and Michael Pineda would be their regular five man rotation. Will that rotation be able to stand up in the playoffs against the offenses of the Yankees and the Astros? Only time will tell.
3. New York Yankees
Current Record: 73-39 (AL East Division Leader by 9 games)
The Yankees put a dagger in the heart of Red Sox fans last week, as they swept a four game series which left Boston with an uphill climb to get back to the playoffs this season. They are winners of six in a row, and seven of their last eight games. This week should be a good week for the Yankees, even though they are on the road all week. They get to face the AL East cellar dwellers, as they have two more games at Baltimore, and then four games at Toronto.
The big question for the Yankees, like other teams, will be their starting rotation. The Yankees had a bad stretch of starts in mid to late July where none of their starters could make it through five innings of work. Masahiro Tanaka’s ERA has ballooned up to almost 5.00, James Paxton is 6-6 on the season, CC Sabathia is on the injured list, and who knows when Luis Severino will make his season debut. For now, the rotation doesn’t need to be great though, as the Yankees are averaging 5.84 runs scored per game. They are fighting for home field advantage throughout the playoffs with the Astros and the Twins, so they need to keep up their winning ways.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Current Record: 75-40 (Leader of NL West by 18 games)
The Dodgers come in at number two in our power rankings. Unless they have a huge fall in August and September, the NL Playoffs will be going through the city of Los Angeles. That is very troubling for the rest of the National League, as the Dodgers are 44-15 at home this season. They get to spend the entire week at home, which means their record will most likely just keep getting better. They have two more games against the Cardinals, and then three games against the Diamondbacks.
The two time defending champ of the National League seems primed to make a third straight World Series. Even though their lineup has looked different each day they play, they have been getting consistency from top to bottom. With a rotation that is led by Hyun Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, and Walker Buehler, the Dodgers have put themselves in prime position to get back to the World Series.
1. Houston Astros
Current Record: 73-40 (AL West Leader by nine games)
Our five man committee was split on the number one and two spots of the power rankings. Three of us had the Astros at one, and two had the Dodgers at one. The Astros moves at the trade deadline vaulted them to the number one spot in our power rankings. With the addition of Zack Greinke, they solidified the top three spots in their starting rotation, and clearly have the best rotation in the American League. Their other starting pitcher move involved getting Aaron Sanchez from Toronto, who had struggled mightily there. He put on an Astros uniform and threw six no hit innings last week, which makes the move look brilliant from the outset. We will see how Sanchez holds up down the stretch.
The Astros are in a dogfight to get home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Unlike the Dodgers in the NL, the Astros have the Twins and Yankees to contend with for home field advantage. Even though the Yankees are 0.5 games ahead right now, the Astros leaped ahead of them in our rankings with their moves at the trade deadline. The Yankees stood pat, while the Astros went for it all. They have won seven of their last eight games, and have five games this week against under .500 teams, as they face the Rockies for two at home, and then travel to Baltimore for three games.
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Rankings compiled by @GophertheTopher, @Noush9602, @PrimeJD, @avengerjr28, and @PhilliesToday