There may only be 13 games remaining in the 2017 season, but there’s still much to be decided. The AL East and NL Central are still up for grabs and ten teams still have a legitimate shot at landing baseball’s coveted Wild Card spots.
Not sure where to lay down your money? You’re in luck! We’re back to separate the contenders from the pretenders with our weekly edition of Into the Wild Card. We’ll examine which non-division leading teams have risen and fallen the most over the past seven days, and the odds they’ll remain in the playoff picture.
Here’s where we stood last week. First up, below, is a quick rundown of the numbers as they currently stand, followed by the risers (Up, Up, and Away) and fallers (Into the Depths).
AL PLAYOFF ODDS:
WILD-CARD CONTENDERS (SEPT. 18)
- New York Yankees: 1/100
- Minnesota Twins: 8/17
- Los Angeles Angels: 3/1
- Seattle Mariners: 39/1
- Kansas City Royals: 50/1
- Texas Rangers: 100/1
- Baltimore Orioles: 100/1
- Tampa Bay Rays: 100/1
- FIELD: 100/1
NL PLAYOFF ODDS:
WILD-CARD CONTENDERS (SEPT. 18)
- Arizona Diamondbacks: 1/100
- Colorado Rockies: 1/7
- Milwaukee Brewers: 8/1
- St Louis Cardinals: 39/1
Up, Up and Away
New York Yankees: 1/100
The Yankees have a stranglehold on a Wild Card spot, but make no mistake, they’re focused on winning the AL East. New York is just three games behind Boston after winning 11 of the last 15 games. One of the keys to their recent hot streak has been the sensational play of Didi Gregorius. The shortstop has been hitting .281 with five homers and 19 RBIs during September and is on pace to establish career highs in nearly every statistical category. He doesn’t get as much press as Aaron Judge or Gary Sanchez, but he’s just as responsible for the club’s late-season surge.
The Yankees are currently +650 (13/2) to win the AL Pennant on most of the trustworthy sportsbooks. That’s nearly double the Red Sox (+333). While they’ll likely face the dice-roll that is the Wild Card game and, if they win, play the red-hot Indians in a best-of-seven, the Pinstripes have the lineup and deep bullpen to contend with Cleveland.
Colorado Rockies: 1/7
Many teams have more star-power than the Rockies, but few have the same one-two punch provided by Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado. Their MVP-caliber production helped the Rockies take two of four on the road from rival Arizona, which followed a four-game sweep of the Dodgers and preceded another series win over the Padres. Blackmon is hitting .332 with 35 home runs and 93 RBIs, while Arenado is batting .309 with 34 dingers and 125 RBIs. If they keep it up, the Rockies should be able to hold-off the surprising Brewers and lock-up their first postseason trip since 2009.
Milwaukee Brewers: 8/1
Speaking of the Brewers, they have been on a major tear lately, winning four of their last five and seven of ten. They’re four back of the equally streaky Cubs in the NL Central, but are now only 2.5 games behind the Rockies for the final Wild Card spot. The Brew Crew will have a chance to feast against the lowly Pirates for the next three days before heading back to Miller Park for a pivotal four-game homestand against the Cubs. They’ve gone 8-7 against the defending champs this year and could still steal the division with a late Cleveland-style run.
Into the Depths
Pittsburgh Pirates: Eliminated
The Pirates have returned to our list of sad-sack teams for the second week in a row after losing five consecutive games and nine of their last ten. They’re now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and can begin focusing on 2018. (Trust me, that’s far better than focusing on what to do in Pittsburgh during the winter.) Joaquin Benoit, John Jaso, Cody Eppley, and Jung Ho Kang are all free agents and the team still has to figure out whether to pick up Andrew McCutchen’s $14.5 million club option. The five-time All-Star had more ups and downs than a toilet seat this season, and may no longer be part of Pittsburgh’s longterm strategy.
Baltimore Orioles: 100/1
It’s time to stick a fork in the Orioles. Baltimore has lost eight of its last ten and surrendered 34 runs in the last four games. Frankly we’ve seen World War II vets who look less shell-shocked than the O’s starters. Baltimore presently ranks second-to-last in the AL in ERA and opponent batting average, and is tied for last in quality starts. It’s tough to cook up success from those ingredients, especially with so few games remaining.
Texas Rangers: 100/1
The Rangers are hanging on by the thinnest of threads after losing seven of their past ten games. Texas needed to sweep its weekend series against the Angels to have a reasonable shot at the final Wild Card spot, but managed to come away with just one victory. Their struggles are hardly surprising considering the club unloaded Yu Darvish, Jonathan Lucroy, and Jeremy Jeffress at the trade deadline, but it’s disappointing nonetheless. The Rangers won the AL West in 2015 and 2016 and were favored to return to the playoffs when 2017 began. Now they’re favored to watch the postseason from the comfort of their La-Z-Boys.