Just about one month remains in the 2017 MLB season, and it's clear by now which teams are leaning towards playing in October and which teams aren't. Many huge trades have recently been made, such as Pitcher Sonny Grey to the wildcard chasing New York Yankees, and Pitcher Yu Darvish to the dominating Los Angeles Dodgers. However, there is still is time left for teams to be flipped upside down due to struggling stars, lack of bullpen depth, trade losers and more. Rough patches come and go for teams all throughout the season, although now is the time of the year where if the team hits a rough patch, there really isn't much time to come back - especially if your division rivals are off to the races.
Boston Red Sox (72.3% playoff probability), Cleveland Indians (96.9% playoff probability), Houston Astros (100% playoff probability), Washington Nationals (99.8% playoff probability), Chicago Cubs (93.9% playoff probability) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (100% playoff probability) are currently leading their divisions - some having a heftier lead than others. The wildcard race is as close as ever, with the New York Yankees leading the charge, while also creeping up on their rivals the Red Sox. The teams that have virtually no chance are the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Miami Marlins and Texas Rangers who all have a playoff probability of 4.9% and below. The remaining teams of which I didn't mention all lay in between. Now lets take a look at which possible playoff contenders have the biggest issues down the stretch (in no particular order).
All statistics are provided by the MLB and are as of August 4th, 2017.
15 Arizona Diamondbacks
The ol' D-Backs have been faltering lately, winning only half of their last 12 games. Their bullpen may be the reason for that... On the outside, their bullpen doesn't look too shabby, doing quite well on paper. However, without the addition of the former top prospect sensation Archie Bradley (who is a multi inning shutdown reliever), their ERA jumps to 4.11. Their veteran closer, Fernando Rodney, has a whopping 6.10 ERA, begging the question of they should start looking for another closer. Alternatively, the D-Backs can try and rearrange their pen to make better use of their top performing assets.
14 Boston Red Sox
While being in a close race with the New York Yankees - who also just acquired a new ace pitcher - there is no room left for any faults. The Red Sox lack a decent third baseman, and they desperately need one if they want to stay ahead. They were originally entrusting the position to Pablo Sandoval, then they traded him away to the San Francisco Giants for new third baseman Eduardo Nunez. Although he doesn't give Boston the power hitting which they so desperately need. Will Nunez be able to thrive at third base? Only time will tell as we finish the rest of the 2017 season.
13 Chicago Cubs
Last year, the Chicago Cubs managed to break 100 wins and snap their 108-year-long World Series drought. Their season was sensational to say the least, although this season they're basically sitting at half the wins with only a month left to play. Don't get me wrong, the Cubs are an awesome team who are also sitting in first place of the NL Central - but for how long? Was last season possibly a fluke and now do they have a World Series hangover sort of like the San Francisco Giants? There are many questions, but no time to answer them as the Milwaukee Brewers are sneaking up on the former champs.
12 Cleveland Indians
Another recent World Series team, the Cleveland Indians are coming off their championship trip, although falling to the Cubs. Somehow first in the AL Central, the Indians are severely lacking in both hitting and pitching. But a bigger problem is which issue is more important? And which one can they rely on as they make their way to the postseason? The Indians have to rely on their stars going on a hot streak like Carlos Santana and Corey Kluber - and if they go into a slump then good luck getting far into the playoffs.
11 Colorado Rockies
In the wildcard hunt with a pretty good record, the Rockies still do have quite the rocky road ahead. The three time all star Carlos Gonzalez hasn't been looking too hot this season. Is it a slump or is the 31-year-old finally starting to decline? As stated earlier in the season when Carlos just began his decline, assistant hitting coach Jeff Salazar said, "When you have been good for as long as CarGo, you have to believe that after game No. 162, he's going to be hitting .290-something, with 30 homers and 90 RBIs." Well, we will find out.
10 Houston Astros
Almost at 70 wins and are completely guaranteed to make it to the post season. What could possibly go wrong? Despite having a high ranking offensive and pitching ERA, there a few minor problems that can grow the further they progress. Weak back end of the rotation, possible regression and maybe a few unlucky injuries can knock them out early in the playoffs. But for now, they are the top predators; but don't rest too easy.
9 Kansas City Royals
Yet another team that made it to the World Series not too long ago, they've only managed to be slightly above average. Only two games behind the Indians, they can still clutch out this last month and perhaps slide past Cleveland by a hair. Although, they failed to sell impending free agents such as Eric Hosmer, Jason Vargas, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas. The Royals also operate using a farm system which Bleach Report ranks at No. 29 in the league. They may be doing decently now, but their failure to focus on the future will impact their future.
8 New York Yankees
After impressively revamping the farm system and acquiring young talent from all over, the Yankees have seemed to start rebuilding faster than normal. However, some of their big rookie hitters, such as Aaron Judge have been in a terrible, inevitable slump since the all star break. They recently lost the series to the Detroit Tigers and are getting throttled by the Indians, putting them at 50 losses on the season so far. They may only be right behind the Red Sox and first in the wildcard race, but if these rookies don't get their acts together they may begin to fall behind.
7 Washington Nationals
Cruising to a title, Washington seems to be one of the only threats who can stand up to the Dodgers. Ace Max Scherzer did exit Tuesday's game early with an apparent neck injury, and if that ends up being serious the Washington is in serious trouble. In addition, their bullpen isn't all too great, and without the proper pieces, they may start to decline come October. If a World Series is something they want, they need to straighten out that God awful bullpen.
6 Los Angeles Dodgers
Despite possibly having one of the best records this season, their team and stats definitely do look good. However their consistency is not something to laugh about. Clayton Kershaw is one of the only reliable starters on the team, only to go ghost once the playoffs come around. The Dodgers are going strong now, but we all know what happens once October comes. Maybe this time it'll be different, or maybe it won't. Whatever the problem is, hopefully they figure it out.
5 Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners were injury ridden early in the season, but have managed to get over .500 and into the postseason picture. They made mid-level additions ahead of the deadline, acquiring reliever Davis Phelps and starting pitchers Marco Gonzales and Erasmo Ramirez. The Mariners aren't catching the Astros, but a wildcard birth is still in reach. Although repeating injuries may come back to haunt them, they also just missed the post season last year as well. And they also have many tough teams they'd have to overcome to make it.
4 Baltimore Orioles
While being in a tight race for the wildcard slot, having to surpass teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, there is one burning question that remains: What's up with the offense? The Orioles' hitters rank extremely low, barely being able to produce anything compared to the rest of the league. Disappointing seasons by Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis also isn't helping. The guys who are supposed to be carrying Baltimore's offense are starting to crack. It's at the point in the season where there should be a sense of urgency, considering now every game counts.
3 Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels are hovering in the vicinity of .500. MVP Mike Trout is back after missing a month-plus with a thumb injury - so technically they're not completely out of the wildcard race. In reality, though, the Angels don't quite measure up to their counterparts, and they did virtually nothing at the trade deadline to address their terrible farm system. Unless a miracle happens, they aren't looking too good, and I don't think there are any, "angels in the outfield," this time around.
2 Milwaukee Brewers
For a small market club like Milwaukee, they seem to be doing a lot better than most people expected. Although the Milwaukee Brewers have their own offensive issues, and if the can't find any solutions to make Jonathan Villar and Eric Sogard work, there will be a problem. And they also have to figure out their outfield rotation. Some heres and theres need to be addressed before being able to make a proper run, and if not, this last month of baseball could be a struggle and a sad end to the season.
1 Miami Marlins
One of the hardest hitting sluggers in the league, Giancarlo Stanton, floated through the trade-rumor sea but stayed put. Now, the Marlins somehow wormed their way into second place in the NL East. Still at five games below .500 and with a minus-19 run differential, their chances are low at becoming a factor. An ever bigger problem apart from possibly not making the post season is if they are keeping Stanton or not with this upcoming winter due to the sale of the team. Losing their star would be detrimental for many seasons to come.
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