The MLB season is entering its stretch run and things are heating up all over the place, thanks in large part to one of the most exciting trade deadlines of all time. Teams are surging, others are collapsing, and most of the divisions are still in play, aside from the dumpster fire that is the AL Central.
Here are five of the most compelling storylines we’ll be watching over the final two months of the MLB season.
MLB storylines: The AL East
Sweet fancy Moses, this MLB division is fun to watch. Four teams – the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Toronto Blue Jays – are vying for essentially three playoff spots, the division title obviously being the most coveted. The Oakland Athletics are trying to chase the Houston Astros in the A.L. West. If they don’t catch the Astros, they will be in the wild card mix with this A.L. East group. At least two A.L. East teams will make the playoffs. We will see if the third-place team in the division is also able to get in.
The Rays hold a lead over Boston, while New York and Toronto are both less than three games out of an MLB wild-card berth. Right now, the Red Sox are in the most danger here because they still don’t have the pitching to match other contending teams. A bad stretch or a week where the offense cools off could sink them.
If I had to guess, I’d say Tampa Bay holds onto the division and the Yankees take a wild-card spot, most likely matching up in the playoffs with the Athletics. The Red Sox and Jays will stay home.
The Sudden Three-Team Race in the NL East
About a month ago, the Mets were cruising along in the MLB season, enjoying a small lead in the NL East by just a couple of games. But all felt right – here were the Mets living up to expectations! Then Francisco Lindor landed on the IL with an oblique injury. And then NL Cy Young candidate Jacob deGrom also went on the IL with more arm and elbow troubles. And then the tailspin began. Now the Mets are in third place in the division, looking up at the Phillies and Braves.
Those two teams only have a game on New York, and the Mets expect to get Lindor back soon and deGrom as well, as long as his upcoming MRI comes back clean. The Phillies have a Cy Young candidate of their own in Zack Wheeler, along with a potential MVP candidate in Bryce Harper, who has been playing out of his mind since the All-Star break, so Philadelphia looks poised to take control of the division… but this is truly a three-team race.