Reporting Evan Roberts
1. Philadelphia Phillies (1) 75-40
So how did the widely accepted best team in baseball react to losing 2 of 3 to the Giants at home 2 weeks ago? Well, how about a 9-game winning streak, returning the favor against the Giants in San Francisco, and having Shane Victorino tackle one of the Giants coaches (Hensley Muelens). The brawl with the Giants was pure comedy but the message they sent to San Francisco was all serious to the Phillies. You can’t put too much stock in regular season head to head match-ups (see below) but the Phillies are leaving little doubt that it will take quite a bit to knock them out come October.
2. Boston Red Sox (2) 71-43
While I don’t believe the Red Sox are in CC Sabathia’s head, they certainly have the confidence that they can beat the big lefty anytime, any place. CC dropped to 0-4 against Boston this year, but more importantly for the Red Sox they won yet another series against the Yankees and ensured that the Yanks would have to finish with a better record to secure the division title. But big picture…as we’ve seen the last few years winning a division does not have all that much significance come October. What’s scary for Boston is how good Carl Crawford looked in the series. If they can get his bat going along with MVP candidates Adrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury and to a lesser degree Dustin Pedroia, the Sox lineup will look even more ridiculous than it already is.
3. New York Yankees (3) 69-44
Yankee fans may not want to hear it, but other than hearing the word “wicked” a lot from their Boston friends, the significance of losing another series to Boston is minimal at best. Do you really think in a potential ALCS matchup the Yankees will be “psyched out” because of their regular season failures? The key for the Yanks is to get to October healthy and with a better handle on what their playoff rotation will look like.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (8) 65-50
You can make an argument that no team is hotter in baseball these days than the Milwaukee Brewers (Phillie fans loudly disagree). Despite an injury to Rickie Weeks, the Brew Crew have successfully destroyed the Astros and Cubs, plus won a big series against St. Louis. What makes them so scary is the star power that they possess. They have the double headed MVP combination of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, plus a pen that is pretty formidable with Frankie Rodriguez setting up John Axford. But it’s the pitching that has been the main catalyst lead by a healthy Zack Grinke who has been enjoying the run support this year that he certainly didn’t get in years past.
5. Atlanta Braves (6) 67-49
All of a sudden the Braves are being a tested a tad for the NL Wild Card. They can without question kiss any hope at a division title goodbye, but they still have the leg up for the Wild Card. But they are certainly being tested from outside and also from within. Brian McCann remains out, and now Jair Jurrjens, who has not been the same since his unbelievable 1st half, has joined McCann on the DL. Arizona, who has continued to play well, and St. Louis are now real threats down the stretch.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (NR) 62-53
Ever since Jack McKeon took over, the Marlins have been feisty and dare I say pretty tough to beat. That’s why the Cardinals waltzing their way into South Florida and handing the Marlins four straight losses was pretty impressive. Albert Pujols is getting real hot which his scary for anyone in his path. Don’t rule him out from actually making a run at .300. The big test for the Cardinals is the rematch with Milwaukee. They play a 3 game series this week.
7. Texas Rangers (4) 65-51
The Rangers were about to lose their 3rd straight series and drop into a first place tie with the Angels, but they saved themselves from those fates by coming back impressively against the Indians on Sunday night. Scoring 5 runs in the 8th down 3-0 did the trick and the Rangers maintain an ever so slim lead in the West. Next week’s 4 game set with the Angels will be very intriguing in a race that appears like it will go all the way to the wire.
8. Angels of Anaheim (10) 63-52
The Angels continue to play solid, consistent baseball, as they haven’t lost a series since the first one after the All-Star break. But this upcoming week won’t be easy as they try to keep pace with Texas. While the Rangers play the soft part of the AL West, the Angels have to play 3 games in the Bronx against an angry Yankees team who were red hot until the Red Sox got a hold of them. And then Toronto is no walk in the park as they have very quietly hovered around the .500 mark. The hope for the Angels is to be right where they are going into the big series next week against Texas.
9. San Francisco Giants (5) 63-53
The “Blame Beltran” people in Queens may have a few new members to the club residing in San Francisco! I’m kidding, but what’s not a joke is that the Giants still can’t score runs, are struggling big time since the trade and now Beltran is injured. Look, things will stabilize because of their solid starting pitching, but things have gotten dicey because the Diamondbacks don’t seem to be going away.
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (7) 62-53
The D-Backs appeared to have a let down after winning 2 of 3 against San Francisco. They lost the first 2 games against the lousy Dodgers, but Ian Kennedy doesn’t lose anymore and the D-Backs came back against Clayton Kershaw. But right now is a very important time for Arizona. They have home games against the last place Astros and the beat up Mets. Arizona needs to get fat against those teams, because next week they have 10 game east coast road trip that starts off in Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Which teams top your list? Let ‘er rip in the comments below…