Photo finish shaping up for MLB

By: Aaron Heimbuck

Major League Baseball is starting to heat up as the playoffs are approaching. It’s all fun and games until September rolls around. Three divisions are pretty much set, while the other three are still neck and neck. Some are looking to be the top dogs of their division. Others are simply clawing for a second wild card spot.

In the American League East, the Toronto Blue Jays have a three game lead on the New York Yankees. The Jays took a big jump ahead of the pack with their trade deadline acquisitions. With arguably the best offense in baseball, the World Series hungry Blue Jays are looking to stay where they are. The Yankees are the favorite for the first AL wild card spot currently. Look for the Jays to keep the impressive play up, take the division, and make a big run come playoff time.

The American League Central is a whole different story. The Kansas City Royals have a 10-game lead over the second place, Minnesota Twins. The Royals look to be slumping, though, as they have lost seven of their last 10. It is still very unlikely that they will lose hold of first in the division. The rest of the AL Central isn’t looking too hot in the wild card race. The division isn’t exactly the strongest with the Tigers rebuilding and the Indians and White Sox playing subpar. Look for the Royals to bounce back and take the division with a landslide.

In the American League West, the Texas Rangers have had an impressive run. For most of the season the Houston Astros have been the frontrunner, but Texas now has a half game lead. The Rangers figured something out as they were not expected to sit as well as they are. The Astros are looking to bounce back and grab a playoff spot for the first time since 2005. Don’t sleep on the L.A. Angels either, as they look to take one of the wild card spots. It will be interesting to see two Texas teams battle for first place. Look for the Rangers to keep trucking and take the division.

Moving on to the National League Central, we have the St. Louis Cardinals with the best record in baseball. However, they only have a three-game lead on the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cardinals have had an outstanding season despite losing their ace, Adam Wainwright, early in the season. They are currently in a slump, however, and should be worried about the close-trailing Pirates. The Chicago Cubs, although in third place, are looking to keep their place as the second wild card spot. The NL Central is one of the toughest divisions in baseball with three teams in the playoff mix. Look for the Cardinals to stay on top with the Pirates and Cubs taking the wild card.

Next there is the National League West where the Dodgers have a seven and a half game lead on the second-place San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers have played some great baseball of late, and it’s showing. The Dodgers will be a scary team in the playoffs with their impressive pitching. The only other team in the division that has any playoff hopes are the Giants. Look for the Dodgers to finish strong and the Giants to make a run in the playoffs as well.

Lastly, the National League East division has been run by the New York Mets. The Mets have put on an impressive show with arguably the best young pitching staff in baseball. They look to make a playoff run with their deep rotation and really shake things up. The only other team who have a chance to make it to October are the Washington Nationals who have been somewhat of a disappointment this season once again. They are struggling for a wild card spot right now. Look for the Mets to make noise in the playoffs this year.

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