1. Philadelphia Phillies (1) 84-46
Cole Hamels returned from his brief stint on the DL Monday night and didn’t skip a beat. He cruised through 6 innings against a very solid Cincinnati Reds lineup and reassured the Phillies fan base that he is the scariest No. 3 starter in baseball. And is it crazy to say Vance Worley should be the No. 4 ahead of Roy Oswalt? Well, he won’t be but he certainly has had a wonderful rookie season, now 9-1 with a sparkling 2.65 ERA.
2. Boston Red Sox (3) 82-51
Let’s face it, this No. 2 and No. 3 ranking switch between the Yankees and Red Sox changes by the week. The Sox have played well recently, taking 3 of 4 from Texas and battling the rain drops to take 2 of 3 against the A’s (a team the Yankees had issues with). It will be a big test for the Red Sox’s probable top 3 guys in their playoff rotation as they face the Yankees this week. John Lackey has been better lately, but that’s not saying much. Putting another beating on CC could go a long ways into actually getting a psychological edge against the big lefty.
3. New York Yankees (2) 80-52
The Yankees stubbed their toe a little bit this past week as they lost 2 of 3 to Oakland and only managed a split against their personal decade-long whipping boys, the Baltimore Orioles. But bigger than that, they go into the Boston series not completely healthy. Derek Jeter is banged up after fouling a ball of his knee, and A-Rod has been nicked up ever since coming off the DL. They are 2-10 against the Red Sox and would love to see their ace pitch better against Boston for the first time this year, but AJ Burnett is facing the ultimate test. He has been beyond awful and his last stand comes this week against his tormenters, the Red Sox.
4. Atlanta Braves (4) 79-54
Hurricane Irene knocked out a good portion of the Braves’ schedule over the weekend, and they looked as if they didn’t want to spend even a day in NY, as Chris Capuano pitched a 2-hit, 13-strikeout performance on Friday before the Braves had the weekend off. Right now Atlanta is in the boring part of their schedule. They have opened up a huge lead in the NL wild card, but still remain 6 games behind the best team in baseball. They do have 6 games remaining with Philadelphia and they have played them tough this year (6-6), but catching the Phillies doesn’t seem realistic.
5. Milwaukee Brewers (5) 81-54
If the Brewers really want a boring September they have a shot to make it that over the next week or so. During August thus far they have gone 21-5 and opened up a double digit lead in the Central. BUT if the Cardinals have any dreams of making a big comeback it has to start right now. They have 6 games in the next week and a half against Milwaukee. The Brewers could sleepwalk to their first divisional title as a National League team with a strong showing against St. Louis.
6. Texas Rangers (6) 76-59
The Rangers won another series against the Angels as they continue to try and stave off Anaheim who just seem to not go away. But this week will be a big challenge for the defending AL champs. 3 at home against the hot Rays, then 3 with the Red Sox, and 3 more in Tampa against the Rays. Nelson Cruz is banged up right now, which has led to rumors about a pursuit of Lance Berkman.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks (10) 76-59
If you are a D-Backs fan you have to be seasick. This team just doesn’t believe in trading wins with losses, they believe in trading long winning streaks with long losing streaks. They jump 3 spots because right now Arizona is going through one of those streaks where they don’t lose. On August 9th the Diamondbacks began a 7 game winning streak. When it ended they promptly began a 6 game losing streak. When they snapped it against Washington with a sparking performance by Cy Young candidate Ian Kennedy, they went on ANOTHER 7 game winning streak. Time for the Giants to worry, it’s now a 5 game loss column lead.
8. Detroit Tigers (7) 73-61
The Tigers have been in first place for just over a month, but this was the week where the lead expanded to new heights. The got it to 6 games, as the Tigers had a very solid 5-2 road trip in Tampa Bay and Minnesota. Justin Verlander gets all the pub and rightfully so with the incredible Cy Young year he has had. But one guy who has flown under the radar is Jose Valverde. There has been a lot of dancing for the big man this year, because he’s gone all Brad Lidge on the American League as he has been a perfect 39/39.
9. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (8) 72-62
The Angels are right there in the AL West, despite being unable to break through in the head to head matchups with Texas, as they continue to hang around the race. With that said, Mike Scioscia showed a little panic in going to both Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver on 3 days rest. It worked with Santana but backfired on Sunday night with Weaver who blew leads and ended up giving up 7 runs. 10 games against the Mariners and Twins upcoming is a great opportunity for the Angels to fatten up.
10. Tampa Bay Rays (NR) 73-60
David Price had his best performance of his down 2011 season with 14 K’s against Toronto and the Rays continue to kind of hang in there. They still trail the Yankees by 7 ½ games in the wild card, but they do have a ton of head to head games against both Boston and the Yankees, and a chance to pick up ground on one as Boston and NY play each other this week. The problem is the Rays can’t afford to lose too many games the rest of the way.
What’s your Top 10 look like? The floor is yours, sound off in the comments below…