It’s been a tough week, yes, but everyone takes a breath and looks at that blue dot hanging at the top of this chart.
To be fair, if there was one more Mariners-y moment to start playing the worst baseball game of the season, it would be it. Just eight games away from winning their first playoff game in two decades (thanks to some timely losses from the White Sox and the Orioles), the sailors aren’t slipping to the finish line so much as scurrying toward it.
Logical Mind: Sailors are more likely to make the playoffs. this is good.
Fan brain: I’m losing it now!
Please, can hitting and tending be good at the same time? We won 14 games in a row so, we have to try it again.
New York Yankees (91 – 58)
Post-season making chance: 100% (FG), 100% (538)
Chance of winning the World Championship: 9.7% (FG), 14% (538)
As of today (September 22) the Yankees have snatched a place in the playoffs. While technically they could still end up in the Wild Card, they are unlikely to end up with the Division title. Just like last week, there’s not much to say here. Now it looks like they’re working on all cylinders after a fright against the pirates and dropping two to the Brewers over the weekend. They still had two wins from them over the weekend, including a Grand Slam tour from Giancarlo Stanton. Aaron Judge hit 60 home runs, so congratulations to him. Josh Donaldson is also finally starting to heat up after a miserable regular season. Over his last seven games, he’s cut .333/.364/.567. A hot streak like this could be very good once they reach the playoffs. However, despite their good looks, I’m hesitant to say that they even stand a chance at the MLS Championship, let alone the World Championship. This team can look very good when everything is going well, but it rarely happens. So far, a high-strength offense has managed to keep them going, but how long can a subpar thrower and a shaky rear end hold up for a spin?
Cleveland Guardians (83 – 67)
Post-season making chance: 99.9% (FG), >99% (538)
Chance of winning a world championship: 1.8% (FG), 2% (538)
The last time we checked in to the Cleveland Guardians, they looked like they were about to let the season go to the White Sox, and now it looks like the opposite is true. Despite suffering what looked like a fatal loss to the White Sox on September 16th, the Guardians seem to be back at it more than ever. Instead of wilting, the Guardians rushed to take 4 of 5 Twins, capping a massive 11-4 victory. They will then ride that wave straight into a three-game sweep of the White Sox, including 8-2 shellacking, the exact same score they defeated by the White Sox a week ago. Now, all that said, they play AL Central, so it’s not like they’re running there against a Juggernaut, but the Guardians tie victories together easily at the moment, and while the White Sox aren’t quite out of the division now, they’re pretty much buried. With a 99.9% chance of winning the score, the Guardians will likely have this wrapped up within the next few days.
Wild Card Racing
Toronto Blue Jays (84 – 66)
Chances of making post-season: 99.8% (FG), >99% (538)
Chance of winning the World Championship: 6.6% (FG), 3% (538)
The Blue Jays are in a much better position than they were just a week ago, sitting high and strong at the top of the Wild Card standings by 1.5 games. Despite starting the week with a loss to the Rays, the Blue Jays went on to get two out of three games out of the Orioles and split two games with the Phillies, including a very strange 18-11 victory over the Phillies. The game featured a trio of Raimel Tapia (his second of the year) and Jackie Bradley Jr, ex-Blue Jay player Brad Hand, who became famous last year, so yes, it’s a really weird game. Although the Blue Jays didn’t play baseball perfectly, they did play good enough baseball at a time when both the Mariners and Rays were slipping, the Rays were just swept away by the Astros and the Mariners lost 6 of the last 10 players. Blue Jays seem poised for a real run this season. Matt Chapman finally seems to have come back to life, chopping .304/.403/.739 in his last 7 games; Combined with hot bats from Bo Bichette they can make a formidable duo at the bottom of the line. Bolstered by a strong duo at the top of the rotation in a breakout year from Alex Manoah and another strong year from Kevin Gausman, the Blue Jays could be dangerous in the post-season. They still have three more games against the Yankees and the Rice all this year, so things might change a little bit now.
Tampa Bay Rays
Post-season making chances: 99.1% (FG), 98% (538)
Chance of winning world championship: 4.2% (FG), 3% (538)
The Rays continued a difficult streak with Blue Jays by taking on two out of three Rangers, improving the Wild Card’s chances at the same time as the Mariners falter. But the wind fell from their sails somewhat after being swept up in three games by the A*tros. Now it’s true that the Astros are a good team, but for them to be swept right before going into the final week of the season, all against the division’s competitors, many of whom are racing directly for a playoff point, that puts even more pressure on the situation. The Rays have a big streak against the Blue Jays again this weekend, and this could determine the top two Wild Card spots. Now is not the time to falter, even if it is with one of the best teams in the league. Furthermore, Shane McClanahan came out of his last start with a tight neck. While he expects to make his next start and is only my day at the moment, coming out of a long-term injury, this is a sign of concern. In the past, the Rays have teamed up championship teams with rookies and outcasts, but given the state of that team right now, and the competition faced in the upcoming schedule, this could be the year the wheels finally fall off.
Seattle Mariners (82 – 67)
Post-season making chance: 99.7% (FG), >99% (538)
Chances of winning the World Championship: 4.1% (FG), 2% (538)
First, the good news: The Rays are drifting off, and they’re about to go into a big streak with Blue Jays; And the White Sox could be brought up entirely by the Guardians. Now the bad news: The sailors have lost quite a bit, and I’m sure many of you have noticed. They have lost 6 of the last 10, including losing a series to the Angels and A, both of whom were eliminated from the playoff. Furthermore, Julio Rodríguez left yesterday’s game with a tight back (September 22), and is currently getting an MRI in Kansas City before the start of that weekend series with the expectation that he will be placed on IL. Despite all this, since the last time we checked in, the navigators’ magic number has dropped to 8, the Orioles and White Sox are starting to fade, and the math is still firmly in their favour. Except for a truly historic meltdown—and I mean a meltdown that transcends baseball as the worst meltdown ever in any sport in any country, one that makes the kingdom’s internal meltdown look like ripping off a piece of paper—they almost certainly make the playoffs. Now is not the time to panic. Yes, there were injuries and lackluster offenses, but the throwing rotation, aside from some hiccups, was fantastic, the game remained solid, despite some fun matches from Diego Castillo, and Jared Kilinic looked great in his first game with a comeback. The big club. This last stretch is less like a setback and more like an arrow being drawn, ready to fly forward.
Chances of making a playoff: .9% (FG), 2% (538)
Chances of winning the World Championship: Let’s be real
The Orioles are still in the playoffs but they have all been eliminated. They have dropped two consecutive series, one to the Blue Jays, bringing them back to the Wild Card, and the other to the Tigers, who are arguably one of the worst teams in the league. On top of that, they’re looking down the barrel of a real killer row, with a streak against Boston (well, one more lightly distorted), leaving the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Astros on their schedule. Despite a brave effort, and getting close in both the Wild Card and Rookie of the Year, this won’t be the year of O’s. Starting next year, this team has some real talent. Ryan Mountcastle, Grayson Rodriguez, Adley Roschman, Cedric Mullins: There’s a playoff team here, and depending on what they’re doing in the off-season, they could really be a threat next year.
Chicago White Sox
Chances of making post-season: .8% (FG), <1% (538)
Chances of winning the world championship: No.
The White Sox had a chance last week, sitting beautifully with a 15% chance of getting involved in the post-season. Their fate was really in their own hands, and man, did they spoil it. They started off strong, won the series one match against the Guardians, then took two out of the three Tigers, but it pretty much all went downhill from there. After the Tigers’ victory, the White Fox was quickly overrun by the Guards, almost certainly ending any hope they had of sneaking into a league title. Yes, a wild card is still possible but highly unlikely. Mathematics is not in their interest. The White Sox was nearly wiped out, capping a disappointing year on the south side. This year they were supposed to have taken a huge step forward, and instead they have taken a huge step back. Maybe if they were all told in the dugout like Larosa, they would win more matches?