Major League Baseball will have some pretty fun division races down the stretch. There are also some yawn-inducing divisional races such as the Kansas City Royals (11 game lead) and the St. Louis Cardinals (6 game lead). The NL East, AL East, NL West and AL West are all will be worth watching late in September and even very early October.
Pay particular attention to the AL East. The Blue Jays have taken a rocket ship up the standings and now sit atop the AL East with a half game lead on the New York Yankees. Before the deadline, everyone thought the Yankees winning the division was a forgone conclusion. Now some are thinking they could be left out of the playoffs all together.
It’s still a two and maybe even three-horse race in the AL East. Let’s take a look at how things play out.
American League East
Why the Blue Jays Will Win:
The time is now for the boys north of the border. The front office made that very clear when they acquired Troy Tulowitzki and David Price at the deadline last month. All they have done is ignite the entire franchise and now they have everyone thinking late October baseball in Toronto. Tulowitzki has hit three homers since joining the club and all David Price has done is throw 15 innings in two starts with 18 strikeouts and a 0.60 ERA. The focus is to turn that 1/2 game lead into a 3-5 game lead by September. If the club plays like they have been in the last two weeks, they will cruise to a division title (disclaimer: I am not saying the Blue Jays will go undefeated in September, but it could be close).
Why the Yankees Will Win:
First of all, Alex Rodriguez needs to show a few others on the club where the Fountain of Youth is located that he found. This team is starting to fade, perhaps due to the fatigue of five key players that are 35 or older (A-Rod, Texeira, Beltran, Sabathia, Capuano)? This team needs to find the groove they were enjoying in July. They got there with home runs (153, 3rd in MLB) and clutch, late-inning pitching (2.72 ERA in 8th inning or later, 5th in MLB). It is likely the team that doesn’t win the division will get a Wild Card spot. The Yankees have 11 more games against the Blue Jays this season and they are 2-7 so far this season. That is not a good trend for the Bronx Bombers.
Why the Rays Will Win: Honestly it will take a colossal collapse by the Blue Jays and/or Yankees. If either of those teams plays above .500 ball for the rest of the season, the Rays are out. It can be done, however if someone not named Chris Archer can step up on that Tampa Bay rotation. Archer has a 2.62 ERA and the rest of the rotation is almost a run worse. It is division or bust for the Rays, they don’t want to face any team in a one-team play-in game.
My Pick: Toronto Blue Jays
They finally have a difference maker in David Price in their pitching staff to complement their explosive offense. They will continue trending upward towards their first division title since 1993.