September 8, 2016

The AL East/Wild Card Race: Nine Teams Vying For Three Spots

This article was written before the Red Sox took a one-game lead in the AL East on Wednesday night.

Grant Brisbee, SB Nation:
You want parity? According to Major League Baseball, the standings at the start of Tuesday featured as much parity as we've had since 1995, with 18 teams within at least five games of a postseason berth. ... [I]t's time to look at all of the teams still within spitting distance of the wild card in ... the American League. ...

Boston Red Sox

Games back of second wild card

Leading the second wild card by one game, and they're tied for both the AL East and the first wild card with 24 games left.

Odds of reaching the postseason

84.3 percent.

Should they be here?

With this lineup? They should be running away with the division, or at least in a battle for the top spot in the East with a comfortable wild card safety net.

Why aren't they running away with their division?

I can't figure it out, really. They're scoring five-and-a-half runs per game, whereas no other team in the AL is over five. They're also second in the AL in adjusted ERA, with Rick Porcello having a tremendous bounce-back season, Steven Wright being one of baseball's best surprises and David Price rounding into form. After some early shakiness, Drew Pomeranz is showing signs of lasting success (2.76 ERA in his last seven starts).

The best explanation? A shaky bullpen that's hurting them in one-run games, and they're five wins behind their expected record. It's always a cop-out to ascribe everything to bad luck, but, well, this team should be better, and that's certainly one way to explain it.


They have one game left against the San Diego Padres and three games left against the Tampa Bay Rays. Other than that, they have 20 games against the Blue Jays, Yankees and Orioles. That's stunning. And even if they might be the best team on this list (assuming Wright can come back this year), they're in an ultra-precarious spot.

The Tigers have 10 games left against the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves, after all. And 10 of the Astros' final 13 games are against the Oakland A's or Los Angeles Angels. I wouldn't bet against the roster of the Red Sox, but the schedule is making me gasp.

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