MLB postseason preview: the Red Sox reign in the AL

As the NFL starts getting into gear for their 2018-19 season, the MLB is wrapping up theirs. This week and next week, we’ll take a look at who’s in the mix for the postseason and who should be planning their offseason moves. This week, it’s the American League.

The American League (AL) in 2018 was marked by a few very good teams, and a lot of very bad teams. As it stands right now, eight of the fifteen AL teams have been eliminated from playoff contention, leaving seven to duke it out for five spots in the playoff picture. If the season ended today, the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, New York Yankees, and Oakland Athletics would end up rolling their way into the postseason. The Seattle Mariners have a small chance to sneak past the Athletics, but it would require an almost impossible winning streak to get close enough for it to be interesting.

The Boston Red Sox have been dominant all season, winning more than 100 games for just the fourth time in their storied team history, and they’re looking like the team to beat. Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Boegarts have all had career years and bring the team power and speed on the basepaths. In terms of pitching, Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello have been an almost unstoppable trio of shutdown pitchers. Look for these guys in the World Series.

The Cleveland Indians have had the benefit of a weak division this year, although they still boast a dangerous lineup. Coming off of back-to-back playoff appearances, the Indians are prepared for another postseason run. Francisco Lindor, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Ramirez are big batters, and Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer (currently on the 10-day disabled list) can shut down opposing hitters. I’m not sure how far they’ll make it into the postseason, as the other four teams in the AL-Central will finish well below the .500 mark. However, the addition of Josh Donaldson, former Toronto Blue Jay and AL MVP might give the Indians a much-appreciated power boost if he can stay healthy.

The Houston Astros are trying to repeat as World Series Champions, and they have the players to get the job done. It’s almost entirely the same team from last year, with returning hitters like Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and World Series MVP George Springer all ready to make a push to give the Astros another World Series trophy. Offseason acquisition Gerrit Cole has backed up Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, and Charlie Morton to give the Astros one of the best pitching rotations in baseball. Don’t let the idea of a sophomore slump color your thinking about this Houston team. They’re the real deal.

The New York Yankees. Not these guys again, right? That’s what I thought too, but then they traded for Andrew McCutchen and now, if the Pirates don’t make it into the postseason – which has a .04 percent chance of happening – they just might be the team I’ll be rooting for. The hitters on this team hammer the ball, with names like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge (who will hopefully be healthy in time to actually play), and rookie star Gleyber Torres all providing ample support in the hitting department, while a dangerous rotation from top-to-bottom, including guys like Luis Severino, J.A. Happ, and CC Sabathia, makes the pitching just as deadly as any other team in the playoff hunt. It’s the Yankees, so they always have some black magic up their sleeve. Don’t count these guys out just because they’re sitting in a wildcard spot.

The Oakland Athletics have been one of the most exciting teams in baseball to watch this year. Coming off a lackluster season in 2017, the Athletics stormed into playoff contention after the all-star break and kicked the Seattle Mariners right out of it. There’s not many names a casual baseball fan might recognize, but Khris Davis, who has walloped 42 homers so far, Matt Olson and Steven Piscotty all have dangerous swings, Matt Chapman is a shut-down third baseman, and their starting rotation including Mike Fiers and Trevor Cahill have the ability to go deep into games. I’d love to see the A’s win another World Series, especially if it means they’ll have to topple a powerhouse like the Red Sox to get there.

See you next week for a wrap of up the National League, and how it’s shaping up for the postseason.