The Call to the Pen: September 19th, 2016

Welcome back to The Call to the Pen! NL is down to seven playoff contenders while the AL still has a full race. Let’s get to it…

Power Rankings

The Bottom:

30) Minnesota Twins (55-95): Even
29) Atlanta Braves (58-91): Even
28) Arizona Diamondbacks (63-86): Even
27) San Diego Padres (62-87): Even

26) Cincinnati Reds (63-86): Down 1 
25) Oakland Athletics (66-83): Up 1
24) Tampa Bay Rays (64-85): Even 
23) LA Angels of Anaheim (65-84): Down 1 
22) Philadelphia Phillies (67-83): Up 1
21) Milwaukee Brewers (68-82): Even

The Middle:

20) Chicago White Sox (72-77): Even
19) Pittsburgh Pirates (74-75): Even
18) Colorado Rockies (72-77): Even  
17) Miami Marlins (74-75): Even
16) Kansas City Royals (76-73): Even 
15) New York Yankees(77-72): Down 2 
14) Houston Astros (78-71): Up 1
13) Seattle Mariners (79-70): Up 1
12) Detroit Tigers (79-70): Even
11) St. Louis Cardinals (78-71): Even

The Middle has been fractured. The NL has one team truly chasing the Wild Card while the AL has three teams in the chase. I kept the Cardinals ahead of the AL’s three teams due to the splitting of their four-game series in San Francisco this past weekend. The Cardinals close out their road schedule this week traveling to Colorado and Chicago; the final week at home will help St. Louis although they still have one of the tougher schedules down the stretch. The Yankees dropped out of the race after losing five-straight games to close out the week. The Seattle Mariners posted a 4-2 week and have won eight of their last ten games. Seattle’s bats have come alive as of late and will have a chance to take over the 2nd Wild Card spot as Toronto Blue Jays come to town this week.

The Top:

10) San Francisco Giants (79-70): Down 1
9) New York Mets (80-69): Up 1 
8) Toronto Blue Jays (81-68): Even 
7) Baltimore Orioles (82-67): Even 
6) LA Dodgers (84-65): Even
5) Cleveland Indians (86-63): Down 1

4) Texas Rangers (88-62): Down 1
3) Boston Red Sox (85-64): Up 2 
2) Washington Nationals (88-61): Even 
1) Chicago Cubs (94-55): Even 

“My thought is that Chicago takes two of three games [in St. Louis] and win Thursday to clinch the division and the first spot in the 2016 Playoffs” – me last week. I may have been wrong about the winning on Thursday part, but they still clinched on Thursday! Not a lot of movement in the Top this week. The two AL East teams in the Wild Card are holding on to the division race by a thread. Baltimore hosts Boston this week for a crucial four-game series. The O’s are hoping to chip away at the Sox lead while the Sox want to cut down their magic number (11). I moved Boston up to #3 after their stellar week going 5-2 although the two losses came against Baltimore. The Rangers, Dodgers, Nationals, and Indians have all but clinched as they’re all slowly chipping away at their magic numbers. The Dodgers can expedite theirs (9) as they play the Giants at home beginning tonight. The Indians, Rangers, and Nats will all need indirect help this week as they won’t play their 2nd-placed opponents.

Phillies Update:

A 4-3 week! Not normally something to celebrate but given the season we’ve endured, it’s well warranted. It could have been a 5-2 week with two series wins if Jeanmar could have closed the door last Tuesday. Gomez was someone I was excited to see the development of up until the All Star Break, but hasn’t been able to close the door much since. I jokingly said to Matty D when Gomez pitched a six-out save against the Cubs in June that the Phillies should trade him ASAP because they’ll get the most value for him then and there. I was half-joking because at the time it seemed better to hold on to him and develop the back-end of the bullpen with Hector Neris but maybe they should have. With Freddy Galvis hitting his 20th homer yesterday, the Phillies now have four infielders with 20+ home runs. The debuts of Roman Quinn and Jorge Alfaro have come to mixed reviews but both are only in their first weeks, give them time. Odubel Herrera has had a better September after really falling from his All Star first half. With Cesar Hernandez taking over the lead off spot in 2016, it’ll be interesting to see how Herrera returns to 2017 Spring Training. The Phillies host the White Sox for two game tomorrow and Wednesday before traveling up to Flushing to face off with the Mets for a four-game series.

 Disagree with the Rankings? Let me know in the comments

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