Less than 10 days remain in the 2018 regular season. Already some teams have stamped their ticket to October, as well as taking their division pennants. But the races in some divisions are tighter.. For those teams still climbing, they cannot afford to ease up. They’ll have to keep their feet on the gas for those remaining eight playoff spots.
As we enter the final chapters of the regular season, here a few key factors to the remaining division pendents up for grabs. Here is also what to watch out for in October.
Regular Season: Pennant Fights
The Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians have won over their divisions and now sit comfortably for October. But other divisions have neck-and-neck races still in the works.
National League West
Los Angeles Dodgers fans have plenty to cheer for, including Clayton Kershaw returning to form. After an uncharacteristic 1-4 start and time on the DL, Kershaw has turned his 2018 outing around. He now sits with an 8-5 record from the mound, along with a 2.45 ERA. The contributions from players such as Walker Beuhler and Manny Machado sure help keep the days sunny for the Dodgers, not to mention they have won seven of their last ten games.
Colorado, meanwhile, are making their presence felt through the batter’s box. Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon have spear-headed the assault. They have also become favorites to win Silver Slugger awards for the National League. But to end their regular season with a ticket to October, their pitching staff will need to step up in a big way.
National League Central
An exciting race is still in for the National League Central. Both the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers have power to spare in numerous departments.
For Chicago, the eruption of Javier Baez has helped propel the Cubs back into the playoff picture. He has cashed in record highs this regular season in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. Plus, Jon Lester has had a great 2018 considering he is 34 years old. He boasts a 16-6 record with a 3.43 ERA.
For Milwaukee, the one-two punch of breakthrough players Christian Yelich and Jesus Aguilar is nothing short of punishing. Yelich has gone yard 31 times (career high) and boasts a .319 batting average (career high). Jesus Aguilar has belted 33 home runs and 103 RBI’s in 2018.
Let us not forget both teams’ managers. Chicago’s Joe Maddon and Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell are among the sharpest minds this season.
Who is under pressure?
This is a pretty good picture as to who gets to play for a shot at October glory. But some teams will have more pressure to win coming in than others.
Pressure: Boston Red Sox
Along with a stacked lineup from top to bottom, the Boston Red Sox are the first team to reach 100 wins in the regular season. Mookie Betts is a terror on both offense and defense and J.D. Martinez leads the MLB in RBIs. Betts and Martinez boast the two highest batting averages in all of baseball. First-year manager, Alex Cora, is no doubt the leading candidate for “Manager of the Year”.
On paper, Boston is a clear favorite to go all the way to the World Series. But if history has proven anything, anyone can beat anyone at anytime.
Pressure: Houston Astros
The Houston Astros are the reigning champions of baseball. Like any other championship team, there is the hunger and pressure to repeat titles. There also comes a big target on their backs. Luckily, Houston will have plenty to work with to defend its ring. Its pitching and defense are among the best, if not the best the in league.
One component that does not get enough attention, however, is Alex Bregman. Bregman became a much-needed boost to Houston’s offense, especially when Jose Altuve was on the Disabled List. The 24-year old has a career season in the making, belting 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s in 2018.
Featured image courtesy of AP Photo/John Bazemore
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