With about 20 games remaining in the regular season, it looks like some of the playoff races in Major League Baseball are going to collapse.
The New York Mets are leading by one game in the Eastern National League entering Monday, dropping two games in the days after losing the first place after nearly five months at the top. The Atlanta Braves have gone 64-26 — at a 115-win pace — since June 1 and managed to get past the Mets for a brief period on Friday, before losing the last two of their weekend series in Seattle.
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The AL Central race also got more interesting, with the Cleveland Guardians taking a 2½-game advantage over second-placed Chicago White Sox, who won seven of 10 — while the Minnesota Twins slipped to third with a loss of eight out of 10.
Here’s how the eight-person USA TODAY Sports panel voted this week:
Ranking (movement from last week)
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (-)
- Los Angeles should clinch the eighth division title in nine years this week.
2. Houston Astros (-)
- Lefty Will Smith has a 2.63 ERA in 15 appearances since joining Houston.
3. Atlanta Braves (+1)
- Spencer Strider’s 13.65 K/9 is the best mark for any pitcher with at least 60 rounds.
4 – New York Mets (-1)
- They were knocked out of number one for the first time since April 12 – but found themselves in a 1½ match two days later.
5. New York Yankees (+1)
- Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Harrison Bader are all ready to begin rehab assignments.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (-1)
- With Sunday’s entry, St. Louis was 47-24 at home and 35-34 on the road.
7. Tampa Bay Rays (-)
- Shortstop Wander Franco returns two months after the late roster.
8. Toronto Blue Jays (+1)
- Eight games in seven days this week against AL Wild-Card competitors, Tampa Bay and Baltimore.
9. Seattle Mariners (-1)
- The Seattle Beginners had a 1.95 ERA in the first nine games of September.
10. Philadelphia Phillies (+1)
- JT Realmuto is the fifth catcher in history with a season of 15 Homer thefts and 15.
11. San Diego Padres (-1)
- Juan Soto was hitting 0.224 with .740 OPS during 31 games with San Diego.
12. Milwaukee Brewers (+2)
- Matt Bush has six hurdles and two leads in 17 games versus Milwaukee.
13. Cleveland Guardians (-)
- The Cleveland Bullpen’s 2.34 ERA in the second half is the best in baseball.
14 – Baltimore Orioles (-2)
- He lost six of eight and entered on Monday 5 games again in the AL wild-Card race.
15. Chicago White Sox (+1)
- Thursday’s make-up game in Cleveland could play a big role in defining AL Central.
16. Minnesota Twins (-1)
- Loyal Griffin Jax has given up on one go at him in his last 13 appearances.
17. Boston Red Sox (-)
- Boston 19-40 against AL East – and 49-32 against everyone else.
18. San Francisco Giants (-)
- Joey Bart has had .288 (36 for 125) with 7 lucky catches and .822 OPS in his last 43 games.
19. Arizona Diamondbacks (-)
- Zach Gallen’s empty streak ended with a score of 44 to break Brandon Webb’s club record.
20. Colorado Rockies (+4)
- The Rockies are headed to Chicago this week for two against the White Sox, three against the Cubs
21- Texas Rangers (-1)
- Finally in the major leagues after injury derailed his season, highly anticipated Josh Jong Homers in his first major league game
22. Los Angeles Angels[-1)[-1)
- Patrick Sandoval’s last four starts: 1.33 ERA, 25 strokes, 4 walks in 27 runs.
23 – Miami Marlins (-1).
- Cy Young’s ERA, Sandy Alcantara, jumped from 1.92 to 2.43 in four starts.
24. Chicago Cubs (-1)
- Marcus Strowman has a 3.28 ERA in 17 starts since May 1.
25. Cincinnati Reds (+1)
26 – Kansas City Royals (-1).
- Rookie Vinnie Pasquantino returned from the injured list.
27. Detroit Tigers (-)
- Eduardo Rodriguez has a 3.68 ERA in four starts after three months.
28 – Pittsburgh Pirates (+1)
- A 10-game road trip kicks off Monday in Cincinnati.
29 – Auckland Athletics (-1).
- Ken Waldichuk looked good (3.60 ERA) in his first two major league games.
30- Washington Nationals (-)
- Anibal Sanchez has a 1.71 ERA in his last five starts.