In a highly unusual season that produced four landslide division wins, it's been obvious for a while that one of the Wild Card races was going to have to keep us on the edge of our seats through the final week of the regular season.For a while, it looked like
In a highly unusual season that produced four landslide division wins, it's been obvious for a while that one of the Wild Card races was going to have to keep us on the edge of our seats through the final week of the regular season.
For a while, it looked like the AL race could produce some drama, but the Yankees have clinched the top spot and the Twins will likely seal their postseason berth soon. The race for the second National League Wild Card spot is where the late-season drama lies.
The D-backs locked up their Wild Card berth over the weekend, while the Rockies are clinging to a lead that hasn't been comfortable over the past month. Their biggest competition is the Brewers, who will open a series against the Reds at Miller Park on Tuesday with a 1 1/2-game deficit for the second Wild Card spot. The Cardinals are 2 1/2 games behind Colorado, and St. Louis' final five games are against the NL Central-leading Cubs and Brewers.
Biggest jump: There was little movement from last week, as has been the case for a while. No one moved up more than two spots, so let's take this time to give some love to the Twins, who recovered from a sweep by the Yankees to win all four games in Detroit over the weekend. The latter turn of events all but sealed Minnesota's fate as the second AL Wild Card team -- another couple of good games and the Twins will eliminate the Angels, Royals, Rays and Rangers in one swoop.
Biggest drop: The Angels and Orioles each dropped two spots, 12 to 14 and 16 to 18, respectively, and likely out of the race for the second Wild Card spot in the AL. No surprises here -- both are 3-7 in their last 10 games.
Power Rankings Top 5:
1. Indians (1 last week)
The best record in the AL is still on the line, and the Indians also have a chance to surpass the Dodgers for the best record in the Majors. Home-field advantage, which Cleveland has clinched for the AL Division series, is important enough to force teams that have long since clinched their divisional crowns to keep their foot on the gas pedal. That said, Indians manager Terry Francona is going to make sure key players have time to rest over the final week of the regular season. Cleveland has won 29 of its last 31 games. Clearly, there's enough depth on the expanded roster to still win games over the final week even if a key starter takes a day off here and there.
2. Dodgers (2)
The Dodgers reached the 100-win plateau for the seventh time in their history with a win over the Padres on Monday. Now their eye is on locking down home-field advantage through the postseason. For all their issues lately, the Dodgers have still accomplished a ton over the nearly completed season. Entering Monday's game with the Padres, they had allowed an NL-low 560 runs . Only the Indians, who trail Los Angeles by 1 1/2 games for baseball's best record, have given up fewer runs across baseball.
3. Nationals (4)
Bryce Harper's highly anticipated return to the lineup was thwarted on Monday, but not because of injury -- rather, because he has the flu. After missing six weeks with a bruised left knee, Harper, whose Nationals teammates went 25-16 in his absence, is understandably eager to return to the lineup. This week could be important for the All-Star outfielder and 2015 Most Valuable Player, who may need a little time to get into a rhythm before the postseason begins. He'll need to regain his timing quickly, given the caliber of pitching that he'll be facing in October.
4. Astros (3)
The Astros, who trail the Indians by two games for the AL's best record, will need a few things to fall in their favor in order to overtake Cleveland. It won't be an easy task, given their challenging final week, which ends with four games in Boston. The Red Sox will have even more incentive to beat the Astros -- presumably, Boston would rather take its AL Division Series chances on Houston rather than start the postseason against the red-hot Indians. Still, the Astros have played well since they were swept in four games by the A's from Sept. 8-10. They've won four straight series and topped the Rangers in a lopsided win Monday.
5. Red Sox (5)
The Red Sox are hitting their stride at a good time, having won eight of their final nine road games and logging 14 wins in their last 18. The bullpen has been strong. In 17 games through Sunday, the Boston 'pen had allowed nine earned runs over 74 innings for a 1.09 ERA.
The rest of the Top 20:
6. Cubs (6 last week)
7. Yankees (8)
8. D-backs (7)
9. Twins (10)
10. Rockies (9)
11. Brewers (11)
12. Cardinals (13)
13. Rangers (14)
14. Angels (12)
15. Royals (15)
16. Rays (18)
17. Mariners (17)
18. Orioles (16)
19. Marlins (20)
20. Pirates (NR)
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.