2019 AL Playoff Picture

2019 AL Playoff Picture

It’s getting to that time of the year again where the casual baseball fan can start watching and caring about America’s Pastime. To this day most of the teams have completed around 150 of their 162 games in the long, exhausting, what seems like never-ending regular season for baseball. As the season begins to wind down, here is a look at the 2019 AL playoff picture:

The Locks:

2019 AL Playoff Picture
(Julio Cortez | AP)

New York Yankees (98-53) – The best offense in all of baseball has been stained all year being hit by every injury possible to every player possible. 29 players have seen a stint on the IL this season, yet that has not stopped this offensive powerhouse. Having run their way through the AL East this year with an in-division record of 52-19, there was no stopping them. A team that is typically focused around their big-name studs and followed up by their young, amazing future was led by the newcomer, DJ LeMahieu. Arriving in the Bronx he was expected to back up the trio of Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela and DiDi Gregorious. Due to injuries all over the infield, LeMahieu saw career-high starts at 1B and 3B, while still getting his reps at 2B. While holding down the infield, he managed to produce with his bat hitting career highs in Homers and RBI’s as well. LeMahieu’s spotlight isn’t to take away from the rest of this offense that could lead them to the Fall Classic in late October. 

Be aware of their pitching as for all teams with a chance at the postseason still, they have the worst ERA (4.38). Expect them to go the non-traditional route heading into the playoffs. Luis Severino who threw tonight is the Yankees one big hope at having a true ace as the postseason starts.

A friendly 11 games left to close out their schedule. Expect a 7-4 or 8-3 record over those games. Will host the Twins in the ALDS starting October 4th.

2019 AL Playoff Picture
(AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Minnesota Twins (92-58) – A team projected by most to not eclipse 90 wins. A team expected to drop the division to the Indians, yet here they are. Backed by a high-power offense from 1-9 they just rake the ball. Currently, the Twins lead the MLB in home runs and sit second in team batting average. Everyone knows who Nelson Cruz is, he has made his career off hammering baseballs averaging 40 a year since 2014. But their best-kept secrets are Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler. Both have jacked 30+ homers this year and are looking to crack the 100+ RBI mark. 

Their Ace, Jose Berrios, really took the role this year jumping out to a great start on the season. At the end of July, he was sitting at 10-5 with a 2.80 ERA. With at least one more start before the postseason, he will look to get back on track as he has only produced one scoreless outing since July 30th. Don’t expect him to have much backup on the mound as both Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez are pushing ERA’s of 5. 

Closing their last 12 games with their divisions worst, they should be able to carry a hot finish into the playoffs. Good pitching over this last 12 will give them a chance to slow down the Bronx Bombers. 

2019 AL Playoff Picture
(Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Houston Astros (98-53) – If I could crown them the World Series champions now I would. With a +255-run differential, they are going to have no problem hitting and certainly no problem pitching when the postseason starts. They have baseballs best starting core led by Justin Verlander and followed up by Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke. Verlander and Cole have the AL’s best ERA as well as leading the strikeout category by 30+. Their fourth starter, Wade Miley, statistically would be the ace on some of these other teams. 

To account for their offense, the Astros have 3 dudes hitting over .300 (Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve). Alex Bregman and George Springer not far behind hitting .295. To add to their offense, 2017 postseason standout Carlos Correa should be returning from injury very soon.

12 games left with the divisions worst. Good chance they go 10-2 over the span and take the top spot in the AL.

Wild Card Hopefuls:

Oakland Athletics (90-61) +1 – A team that won 97 games last year and lost the Wildcard to the Yankees. Almost written off again this season, they eclipsed their win projection and are the #1 Wild Card team as of today. 8-2 over their last 10 with a friendly schedule the rest of the way playing their last 11 against ball clubs under .500. Expect them to host the Wild Card game on October 2nd. Having not won a postseason game since 2013 and a postseason series since 2006, look for them to at least get the first of that accomplished. Streaky hitting and no consistent starters are going to make for a bad time when they meet the Yankees or Astros. 

Tampa Bay Rays (89-62) – Tampa Bay before the season committed to going the non-traditional route with their starting pitching and it paid off. Outside of Charlie Morton, the team does not have a single true starter. The bat of Austin Meadows has been their leader. Look for him to make a great career in Tampa. 11 games remain on their schedule and it won’t be easy. They spend the next two days in LA with the Dodgers, return home for a 6 game stand where Boston and the Yankees come to town, and then close out in Toronto for 3 games. 7-3 over their last 10, they will need to keep that energy to carry them through this last stretch.

Cleveland Indians (87-63) -1.5 – My pick to head out to Oakland and face them in the one-game playoff. The Indians have won the division the last three years, and while they won’t win it this year, they should still get over 90 wins. 12 games remaining where 6 of them are against sub .500 teams and the other 6 are against playoff contenders in the Nationals and Phillies. With legit starters in Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger, they shouldn’t be written off if they make the playoffs. With a passionate city behind them and one of the more slept on offenses, they could make some sparks happen.