August is coming to an end soon and that means September baseball is almost here. Anything can happen is this final month and nobody in first place is safe. I will look at these division races and predict who will be playing come October.
American League East
Division Winner: Tampa Bay Rays
The Yankees are coming off a huge 13 straight games and finally look like the team everyone expected them to be. This Yankees squad looks hungry. With that being said, they have dropped three straight after the streak. The Rays still hold a seven game lead over the Yankees for first place and have developed a winning streak of their own at eight wins in a row.
The Rays are 20-6 in August and have been one of the hottest offenses in baseball. Since August 1st, they lead baseball in team wRC+, WAR, and are fourth in team average. After losing Tyler Glasnow earlier this year, a lot of people didn’t think their rotation could take that kind of hit. The youngsters have really stepped up though especially left-hander Shane McClanahan. In 100.1 Innings of work, he has posted a 3.59 ERA, 3.25 xFIP, and a 3.59 SIERA. Good signs for this young guy and the Rays because he will most likely be their “ace” going into the playoffs.
If this Tampa Bay offense can stay hot, I think their rotation and bullpen are good enough that they can ride this lead they have in the East all the way through September.
American League Central
Division Winner: Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have battled a lot of injuries this season but with a rather weak AL Central division they have coasted in first place all season. They hold a ten game lead over the second place Indians and I don’t see anyone catching them.
The question before the season was if their rotation would be good enough to make a World Series push and everyone’s questions are answered now. Carlos Rodon and Lance Lynn are both having Cy Young caliber seasons not to mention Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease slotted behind them as well. There offense has been solid all year lead by Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, and Yoan Moncada. I would say the division is just about a lock for them at this point.
The team has lacked consistency this season but if they get hot right before the postseason, I could see them making a big run.
American League West
Division Winner: Houston Astros
The Astros have had first place in possession since June 21st. The A’s sit six games behind them and the Mariners 8.5 back. The Mariners have been a fun story so far this year and are still in the race coming into September. I really don’t see anyone dethroning the Astros here but it will be a fun race to keep an eye on.
The Astros offense has been the best this season leading all teams in wRC+, wOBA, WAR, OBP, and AVG. This is without All Star third baseman Alex Bregman for most of the season too. Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and others have more than picked up the slack without Bregman.
Best lineup in baseball backed by a solid rotation and bullpen, the Astros will take this division and are a World Series favorite for me.
National League East
Division Winner: Atlanta Braves
This division has been all over the place this year. The Mets held down first for majority of the season but they matched up against the Dodgers and Giants for 13 games straight. They came out of that rough stretch 2-11. These Mets look down right now and with no deGrom for the rest of the season most likely, I don’t see them coming back.
The Phillies are a very inconsistent team, they also lost Rhys Hoskins for the remainder of the year. The pitching has been rough all year and now their ace Zack Wheeler has been struggling with a 4.81 ERA in August. They are still only 3.5 games behind the Braves but I don’t expect to see them playing October baseball.
The Braves on the other hand have been playing very good baseball even without star outfielder’s Ronald Acuna Jr. and Marcell Ozuna. Adam Duvall and Jorge Soler have been two great acquisitions by the Braves to pick up the slack. I think this Braves team still has a very strong offense, along with a good enough pitching staff that they can hold the lead they have to be crowned division champs for the fourth straight year.
National League Central
Division Winner: Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers currently hold an 9.5 game lead over the Reds in the Division. The Reds have been an interesting story this year and hold the second wild card spot. The Reds will be a fringe playoff team and battling with San Diego for that last wild card spot for this last month.
The Brewers of course backed by their pitching look to be a powerhouse going into the playoffs. In a five game set they can throw Burnes, Woodruff, and Peralta, that is just scary. Don’t overlook their offense either, even with a down year from Christian Yelich this lineup is still very deep.
I feel bad for the team that matches up with them and they honestly might be my pick to go all the way.
National League West
Division Winner: San Francisco Giants
One of the Dodgers and Giants will be in the wild card. Let that sink in. The Dodgers and Giants are in a dog fight and your guess is as good as mine. They both have similar schedules for the last month and they are both hot right now. The Giants hold a 1.5 game lead in the division but that could close very quickly with this Dodgers team.
With the additions of Max Scherzer and Trea Turner it is hard to bet against them. That being said, the Giants have held them and the Padres off all season long. The two teams that were arguably the two favorites to win the World Series before the season started. The Giants are scrappy and the kind of team I love watching in October.
Again, your guess is as good as mine because I can’t pick between these teams. For the sake of these predictions I will go with the Giants, but this is going to be the most exciting race to watch down the stretch for me.