Temperatures Rising

Otoole 9.16

Even though many of the races appear to be over, recent history would indicate that some of the leaders could spiral into a tailspin and wind up in the wildcard spot or worse out of the playoffs completely. As that famous baseball philosopher Yogi Berra says, “It ain’t over til it’s over”

Houston, one of the surprise teams of 2015, has been atop the American League West for most of July and August, but is suddenly feeling the heat from Texas. The Rangers, (76-67) eight games behind on July 28th, have won 29 of their last 44 games and are playing 8 games above their Pythagorean paring the Astros lead to just half a game. They play them six times in the next 11 games.

Minnesota has continued to give the Twin Cities pennant fever and cling to an outside hope of either catching Houston, Texas, or even the Yankees to secure the last spot in the postseason. They are another franchise (75-68) that has played above their above their Pythagorean mark (72-72) despite being just 16-25 against the other potential playoff teams.

Meanwhile in the National League, the Mets having been putting a hurting on their divisional rival the Nationals with a three game sweep in Washington, an eight game winning streak and increasing their lead to an almost insurmountable lead 9.5 games with fewer than twenty games remaining. Still, if you’re a Mets fan you can only think of the meltdown the team suffered in 2007 blowing a 7 game lead with 17 to go and losing the division in the last home stand at Shea, ironically being damaged by a three game sweep to the Nats.

The Dodgers, like the Mets have opened some space between them and the defending champs., San Francisco and short of a collapse are readying themselves for the first round.

Chicago, (82-60) , has weathered the storm and should be one of the wildcard teams as Joe Maddon has managed brilliantly in August and September guiding the team to a 27-13 mark.

Who the Cubs will play could come down to the final weekend as Pittsburgh has cut the gap with St. Louis to just 2.5 games, the closest any team has been to the Redbirds since May 23rd. The Pirates (86-56) will have one final shot at winning the division in the last week of the season hosting the Cardinals September 28, 29, and 30.

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Will O’Toole is a sports cartoonist and writer. You can follow him on twitter @sawdust2012.