MLB playoff race starts to heat up

Photo courtesy of | Corey Seager (right) and Justin Turner (back left) greet Curtis Granderson (center) at home plate after a home run. The Dodgers are hoping to make a run at the 2017 World Series.

There are few things in the sports world like a division race in baseball down the stretch. Some teams crack under the pressure and give away their lead while others thrive and ride those waves of momentum through a long run in October. This year, the MLB playoff picture is crystal clear in some divisions and extremely muddy in others.

In baseball, it is very difficult to designate a “super-team” like you can in the NBA or the NFL where one player has a much larger impact on the outcome of a game. With 162 games to play in only a few months, baseball relies on a solid cycle of ebbs and flows.

However, the Los Angeles Dodgers are doing their best to attack that norm and set records wherever they see fit. With an insane record of 88-35, the Dodgers are 20.5 games ahead of the Colorado Rockies for first place in the National League West. Here’s the craziest part though: at 68-56, the Rockies have the third best record in the National League and would be in first place in the National League Central if they weren’t sequestered to Denver. The Dodgers are chasing the Seattle Mariners’ record of 116 wins, which they set in 2001.

Speaking of the Central, the defending champions, the Chicago Cubs, are only two games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers for first place. The Cubs surged out of the All Star break to reclaim the division, but the Brewers are hot on their heels. Even the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates are both within seven games of catching the Cubs.

In the National League East, it’s the Washington Nationals’ division to lose yet again. They are in first place by 14 games, and no other team in the East is even .500 or better.

Over on the American League side, things are much less clear. The Houston Astros hold baseball’s second-best record at 76-48, and are 12 games up in the West, but everyone else is still in a battle. In the East, the Boston Red Sox are only ahead by four and a half games, and in the Central, the Cleveland Indians, who came up short in the World Series last year, are ahead by five and a half games.

There are an astronomical seven teams within five games of the Minnesota Twins for the second wild card spot, and one of those teams, the Toronto Blue Jays, is six games under .500 with a record of 59-65.

The Dodgers are far and away the favorites right now. With 12 more wins than any other team, a stacked rotation, a solid lineup and a lockdown bullpen, they’re in prime position to make a run at their first World Series championship since 1988. Time will tell, but with all of the scenarios that could shake out, this should be a wild couple of months.

By: Paul Fritschner ~Staff Writer~