For the most part, we can already tell who is going to make it big after this regular season is over. The Boston Red Sox have pulled away from the rest of the AL East. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians have taken over the AL Central with very few issues. Maybe that’s because they are the only team in that division above .500. But what about those other teams fewer people talk about? Those dark horses people are sleeping on?
While some of these dark horse ball clubs may not see October in 2018, they have made significant statements and have their eyes set on the 2019 season.
Dark Horse Teams: October
This first leg will showcase those teams to watch out for in the upcoming playoff games. So many people are singing the praises of the Red Sox and the Yankees. But neither of those teams have a World Series title to defend this season. The Houston Astros do.
1. Houston Astros
As a team, their pitching staff yields the lowest ERA and lowest batting average in all of baseball. Needless to say, Houston is not getting the attention they’ve earned even while holding the title belt. But perhaps this lack of time under the spotlight has played in their favor. They are well on their way to another AL West pennant, and their chances of successfully defending their crown are better than they may seem.
2. Oakland Athletics
Like their division rivals in Houston, the Oakland Athletics have won seven of their last ten games. Not to mention several experts and fans see them with the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game. But to shock the world, explosions from their best men forward will be crucial for Oakland to move on. First their best ace will have to hold the Pinstripes at bay. Considering the Yankees lead in the MLB in home runs hit by a team, this will be the furthest thing from easy.
3. Milwaukee Brewers
Over in the National League, The Milwaukee Brewers are fighting their way for a spot in the playoffs. With Jesus Aguilar and Christian Yelich creating big waves on offense, the Brew Crew has risen to the occasion. Although the Chicago Cubs still hold the lead in the NL Central, Milwaukee has won seven on their last 10 games. With a couple of improvements to their pitching, the Brewers has a good chance of going deep into the playoffs. Who knows? They might even over take the Cubs for the division pendent. But time is of the essence for the latter to happen.
Dark Horse Teams: Forces of 2019?
These ball clubs may not may it October this season. But they will potentially be terrors next season. Our first dark horse for next season is the Tampa Bay Rays.
1. Tampa Bay Rays
After a slow start to 2018, the Rays have cranked it into overdrive, sitting 17 games over .500 right now. Not to mention they have won eight of their last 10 games. But playing in a division with the Red Sox and Yankees have not done any favors for Tampa Bay, especially in this season. Luckily, the Rays have become one of the deadliest pitching corps in the AL. Their lead ace, Blake Snell, boasts a 19-5 record and a 2.03 ERA. Arguably, the 25-year old has become the leading candidate for the AL Cy Young Award. Hopefully, the organization uses this improving rotation as a foundation for a playoff bid next season.
2. Seattle Mariners
In a similar situation, The Seattle Mariners are doing great, except the AL West division is loaded as is. Plus, 11 games separate Seattle and the Houston Astros (who lead the division). Also, it seems that Oakland will take one of those two Wild Card spots over the Mariners. With off season acquisitions, like Dee Gordon, the Mariners have turned fortunes around in 2018. It doesn’t hurt having Nelson Cruz on your roster, either. But to become a dominant force, their pitchers rosters need reinforcements. As a team, Seattle holds an ERA of 4.10 this season (18th in the MLB). Plus, they yield to a >.250 batting average against opposing batters.
Featured image courtesy of CBS Houston
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