It's September, folks! The final month of the 2023 MLB season, that home stretch that comes before the postseason field is completed. Now, before I continue, I have to say this. I pride myself on punctuality when it comes to these stories, but circumstances can prevent such a thing from happening. In my case, I've been under the weather for the last few days, and during that time, my only obsession was relaxing and doing as little as possible. This is my third year posting such stories on Vocal, and I usually write these on Sunday nights, but the spirit wasn't quite willing just yet. However, on this Labor Day morning, I am close to feeling completely better, and I'm here with this weekly report of the pennant races.
Let's start with the big story here:
The Wrong Time to Decline
One thing that filled my spirits was seeing the New York Yankees actually sweep the Houston Astros on the road! The Yankees are, well, dead. We are. I threw the white flag on our season about four weeks ago, and was now pulling for the Yankees to be the ultimate spoiler. Boy, did we drink in that role this weekend! A road sweep of the Houston Astros, who are in a tight race in the American League West between not only the Texas Rangers, but also the Seattle Mariners, who are in first place! Despite this, the Astros only sit one game behind the Mariners, because Seattle lost a series to the lowly New York Mets. Spoilers gonna spoil, am I right?
What's Next: The Astros have six combined games left against the Rangers and Mariners, and all of them are on the road. Today begins Houston's set against Texas, while their set in Seattle will begin the final week of the season.
Better Than 2021?
I've heard this all season: "This year's Braves team is better than 2021." You know what the Braves did in 2021? Nothing much, just won the World Series, that's all. That year ended up being Freddie Freeman's last season in Atlanta, and the following season saw the Braves repeat as NL East Champions due to the New York Mets choking it away, but they couldn't get past the cinderella Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS.
So what have the Braves done so far in 2023? Oh, just hit everything, steal everything, score runs in huge bunches. It's monstrous. The Braves reached 90 wins--the first team to do so in 2023, and that includes taking a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Speaking of, are we destined to see that as the NLCS once again? Several signs point to "yes."
What's Next: According to the standings, the Braves can definitely become the first to lock in a spot in the 2023 Postseason, and regarding the division, Atlanta's magic number is 11 to lock up the NL East. Their next series against the Phils takes place on September 11-14.
It's Minnesota's to Lose
The American League Central has been in a state of disorder for the entire season, with the entire division all having losing records just over 1/3 into the season. I was left wondering who would be on top of this division in the home stretch, and to my surprise, it's the Minnesota Twins. I'm serious, I thought the Cleveland Guardians would wake up and get on a hot streak, but that has yet to happen. As of this writing, the Twins are the only AL Central team with a winning record, and they lead the division by five games over the Guardians. However, Minnesota trails the season series, 6-4, and they have one meeting left. When does that take place, you ask?
What's Next: The Guardians and Twins face off for the final time in 2023 starting today--a three game set in Cleveland.
This is the second year of the current postseason format, which sends three division winners and three Wild Cards in each league to the postseason, totalling 12 teams overall. The #1 and #2 seeds get byes to the Division Series, while seeds #3-#6 meet in the best-of-three Wild Card Series, with #3 and #4 having complete home field. The #4/#5 winner faces the #1 seed, while the #3/#6 winner faces the #2 seed. The 2023 postseason starts on October 3.
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