Photo Credit: Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times
The American League is mediocre this season.
While the divisions are pretty much settled, the race for the Central isn’t over yet, but the wildcard race is wide open. There are six teams within three games of the second spot, and seven within five games. Of the six teams within three games, five of them have occupied the second spot for at least one day during the last three weeks; with none of them being able to pull away from the other.
Despite hot streaks that have elevated teams into the AL’s final playoff spot, no one has been able to pull away because of injuries at in opportune times. Minnesota, Seattle, and Anaheim/Los Angeles have all lost control of the second wildcard because of injuries that have derailed the hot streaks these teams had put together to get into the spot in the first place.
Currently, the Minnesota Twins are the team that’s holding the AL’s last playoff position; and they haven’t been immune to the injury bug either as star third baseman Miguel Sano went on the 10-day DL, effective 8/20, for a left shin stress reaction. Sano joined LF Robbie Grossman and P Dietrich Enns on the DL after the team took over the place for the second wildcard. As a result of these injuries, the Twins are only a half game up on Seattle as we head into the last week of August. Minnesota had taken advantage of injuries to the Los Angeles Angels pitching staff, and outfield, to overtake LA in the hunt for the second wildcard.
After Anaheim had overtaken the Mariners for the second wildcard spot, JC Ramierz and Ben Revere went on the 10-day DL, which has played a part in the team going 4-6 in their last ten games and having them drop down to a full game back of the second wildcard spot. This downturn in production occurred despite the fact that Mike Trout has returned from the disabled list at the beginning of August, and he’s been very Mike Trout-like since his return.
Seattle had ridden the arm of James Paxton through its injury issues to enter the second wildcard after the first week of August. Unfortunately for the M’s, Paxton left his last start against the Los Angeles Angels (on August 10th) with a pectoral injury. The M’s would go onto lose the first game of the series 6-3, then the second one 6-5, the third game 6-3, before getting annihilated in the fourth game of the series to fall out of the final playoff spot.
Fortunately for these teams, there are only six more days until the major league rosters expand to the 40. This will allow these “contenders” to bring back their injured players without having to send anyone down to triple-A, or designating anyone for assignment.