Legends On Deck

Wild Card Race Heating Up, Who Survives?

(Photo:Gabe Rodriguez)

(Photo: Gabe Rodriguez)

This is the time of the year when teams are preparing towards the final stretch run, as rosters expand and playoff hopes look like more of a reality.

Before the Wild Card era, most squads were planning for the off-season by now and looking forward to 2017, but with many more playoff spots to attain, it has made baseball that much more exciting to watch in September.

In the American League, there are four teams within striking distance of a possible Wild Card berth and the most surprising would have to be the New York Yankees.

Since trading Carlos Beltran to the Texas Rangers and Ivan Nova to the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 1, New York is 16-11 and now find themselves just 2.5 games behind in the Wild Card chase. What is more impressive is that after the trades and also the release of Alex Rodriguez on August 13th, the team has embraced the youth movement which has fueled the recent surge. I have to say Gary Sanchez is the real deal and can be a difference maker if the Yankees make it in.

The Yankees will face their division leaders in 20 of the remaining 30 games, so if their current trend continues they may find themselves with a well-earned playoff berth.

Two other teams that are making waves in the AL race are the Houston Astros along with the Detroit Tigers, who are the hottest squads among teams in contention, with having won eight of their last ten games.  The Astros trail the Tigers by a just one game for the final playoff spot.

In the National League, their isn’t a lock either in the Wild Card race as four teams are still in the hunt. The biggest surprise for a while was the Miami Marlins who have remained within striking distance at just 3.5 games out, but after a 3-7 swoon over their last ten games, and not having their biggest slugger Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup, they seem to be fading away.

But can it be that another New York team is making a move. There was much doubt that the Mets would make any noise in September, especially having lost a big chunk of their starters to the DL. But lately they have pulled it together and gone back to their winning ways with clutch hits from Wilmer Flores and Yoenis Cespedes, and enough pitching to win ball games.

As of Thursday, the Mets sit just 1.5 games out of the final Wild Card spot and are the hottest ticket in the NL having won eight of their last ten games. Could a repeat of 2015 be in the works, with a different supporting cast plus a resurgent Cespedes.

One thing is for sure, the September stretch run will be very intense as every game will be a must win for teams vying for the opportunity to make the postseason. So fasten your seat belts, because it’s going to be another great ride as once again it’s baseball at it’s best.

David Conde
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