Labor Day signifies the start of the home stretch of the MLB season and when playoff races really get going. During the first five months of the baseball schedule, teams have been trying to position themselves for the final push to the post-season. The result: several teams could clinch who have not played into October recently. Here are four teams to keep an eye on this last month.
- The Houston Astros have not made it to the playoffs since 2005, when they lost to the White Sox in the World Series. Since 2007, the Astros have had a losing record 7 out of 8 years. Additionally, the club went three consecutive seasons with 100+ losses. But something happened this year, their third year in the AL. Currently, Houston is sitting atop of the AL west, 2.5 games up on Texas, with a 75-63 record. This year, Houston starter Dallas Keuchel, who is in contention for the Cy Young Award, has been dominant. Keuchel, who has won 17 games, has struck out 185 with a 2.29 ERA. With a lot of good hitters, look for Houston to make the party.
- The Toronto Blue Jays, who currently sit in 1st place in the AL east, have not made the post-season since 1993. The Blue Jays were the World Series Champions that year when they beat Philadelphia. During this 23-year drought, Toronto has had a dreadful record only a couple of times. Toronto just had bad luck with the Yankees dominance and were hovering 10 games below and above the .500 mark 22 of those years. Toronto has been on a roll since the Trade Deadline, when they added Troy Tulowitzki and David Price. The Blue Jays are ready to make a serious run in October.
- The Chicago Cubs last play-off berth was in 2007, as they lost to the Dodgers in the first round. Thanks to the controversial call in the 2003 NL Championship Series, the Cubs have not made it to the World Series since 1945. The Cubs have won the World Series twice which occurred way back in 1907 and 1908, both against Detroit. Thanks to new Manager Joe Maddon and their host of young talent, the Cubs hold the second NL Wild Card spot, up 8.5 games on Washington. The Cubs’ 79-57 record could be contributed to rookie third baseman Kris Bryant. Bryant, who is 23 years old, has jolted the Cubs this season, hitting .267 with 23 home runs and 86 RBIs in 127 games. If the Cubs can clinch, I believe they can do some damage come post-season.
- The last time the New York Mets made the playoffs was in 2006, when they lost in the NL Championship Series to the Cardinals. The last World Series celebration for the Mets came against Boston in 1986. In 9 years since making it to October, the Mets finished below .500 6 times. The Mets, who made a drastic turnaround this season, currently sit in 1st place in the NL East with a record of 76-61. All-Star pitcher Matt Harvey has guided the Mets this year, posting a 2.60 ERA while striking out 158, resulting in a 12-7 record. Mets’ General Manager Sandy Alderson also added slugger Yoenis Cespedes at the Trade Deadline to add more power to the line-up. The Mets could make some noise in the playoffs, but will have a tough time getting around some teams.
Moreover, we will have Kansas City and Pittsburgh, who recently broke their own post-season drought, in the playoffs. Then, our hometown team is just a game and a half back of a playoff spot. Here’s a safe prediction: if St. Louis can lose in October, MLB will see a new champion that has not won in a LONG time!
Written by: Michael L. Sack