Last week we looked at how the Atlanta Braves could possibly take on the LA Dodgers for number one seed in the playoffs, and while that looks to be more poised to LA than it was a week ago, the American League instead has put up a very interesting race for first between Houston and New York. With both teams neck-and-neck at 99-53, who is looking more likely to take that AL top spot.
Remaining Games – New York Yankees - .651
v LA Angels x 2 - .450
v Toronto Blue Jays x 3 - .397
@ Tampa Bay Rays x 2 - .589
@ Texas Rangers x 3 - .487
Remaining Games – Houston Astros - .651
v Texas Rangers x 1 - .487
v LA Angels x 3 - .450
@ Seattle Mariners x 2 - .417
@ LA Angels x 4 - .450
The first thing to take into account, is that Houston have an easier run in, with no teams above .500 but have one extra game away from Minute Maid Park.
Fortunately for them, that extra game is away to the Angels, where the Astros have a .750 record, winning 4-2 at Angel Stadium. They’ve also won 16 out of the 17 games where they’ve faced the Seattle Mariners this season.
The Texas Rangers are their hardest opponents, both by head-to-head record and strength of opponent. But again, it’s only a two-game series, which they’ve already won one of. This really should push Houston as favorites for that top seed ranking.
The Yankees series left that sticks out like a sore thumb is against their divisional rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays. The only team over .500 to appear on this list and New York still have a .706 winning percentage over them but most of those have come at Yankee Stadium and only have a 4-3 record at Tropicana Field. They’ve also struggled in Toronto, as their recent series has shown losing 2-1 with a 4-6 record overall but luckily their run in against them is at home, where they’ve won five out of six. They’ve not faced LA at home yet or Rangers at Globe Life Park so there’s two series that could still throw up an odd result.
But Yanks should have nothing to fear over the latter, with Globe Life Park being one of the most batter friendly parks this season, and with the bats of DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge, they should not have a problem taking the series there.
We’ve already been through the Astros rotation and how it was arguably one of the best in history, let alone across the MLB this season but since then Wade Miley made headlines while having a blip after being unable to get out of the first inning in consecutive starts against the Mariners and the A’s giving up 12 earned runs, his 3.06 ERA shooting up to 3.72.
However, his bad form looks to be over as his last time out against the Royals he managed to get through 6 IP, allowing 2 ER, which makes up for the 12 in 0.1 just a couple games ago.
But he’s not the only pitcher coming back. For the Yankees Luis Severino finally made his comeback from injury, and whether in rotation or out of it, it’s a welcome sight for New York’s line-up who has had to make do without their ace and 2018 Cy Young contender. Severino went four innings pitched, striking out four and only allowing two hits, shutting out the LA Angels in an 8-0 win. How much he’ll be used in the coming week and a half remains to be seen so expect the usual rotation to start and the AL East leaders to go with “score more runs than the other team” tactic as usual.
It’s hard to divide these two teams, they both have the same Last 10 Games form (7-3), even though Houston is on a longer winning streak. Based on the run in, I’d have to go with the Astros clinching the top seed ranking, but I’d fully expect both to be battling for the ALCS this season. What a treat us baseball fans are in for.
By Jasmine Baba