Wednesday, September 19, 2012

AL Postseason Hopefuls and the Schedules That Could Break Them

The AL wild card race is getting pretty serious down the stretch now, and we’re seeing that while the playoff picture is being painted at this point, we’re looking to see the season come down to the last game or two again this season. With that said, it appears that the last 15 or so games will make a good bit of difference. Of teams that are fighting for playoff berths outside of the AL Central (I have both already covered it, and both teams have worse records than the bulk of the wild card hopefuls). 

The Athletics have looked great this season, pitching especially has carried the team. It appears in fact that they may have a second and possibly third MLB quality rotation sitting between AAA and AA. They do however have a very difficult schedule going forward. Of their last 15 games, they have 12 against teams with a winning record and only three against the Seattle Mariners. Contrasting that, the Angels have eight of their last 14 against winning teams and six games against those same Mariners. Those 3 additional games against a last place team could certainly make a notable difference for them trying to get into the postseason.

In the AL East, the Tampa Bay Rays are apt to have the hardest time getting into the postseason, not only because of their record at this point, but because they are going to finish the season with seven straight games against teams that are currently in position to make the postseason, four against the White Sox and three games against the Orioles to close out their season. The Orioles and the Yankees are currently tied for the division lead after the Yankees were rained out yesterday. Both teams have 3 games left against postseason contenders, and are otherwise facing teams fighting to avoid the basement in their divisions. They have a pretty equal schedule at this point, and it’s somewhat hard to give the edge to either team given the A’s and Tampa are both very strong teams, and it’s hard to point to one and declare them the “better” team given their respective schedules but I’d probably give a slight edge to the A’s, which would give the Yankees the marginally harder schedule.

There’s a lot going on over these last two weeks of the regular season. Given the difficulty of the A’s remaining schedule, the Angels may surprise us and overtake them for a postseason berth, the Orioles may be in the midst of making a worst to first switch, showing everyone yet again that Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette are both still capable of turning a team around at a baseball moment’s notice. Without a real push, the Tigers will miss the postseason after making it to last year’s ALCS, and the AL Central will have a different division winner for the third year in a row.

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