Power Rankings: Top 2 in familiar territory

June 14th, 2021

Is it too early to start talking about Wild Card races?

Because in the National League, this fight to the finish could end up being a doozy.

Through Sunday, the Dodgers have the lead for the top spot in the NL Wild Card standings, but just by a hair. They have a one-game lead over the Cubs and Brewers, who are tied for second place, and the Padres are just behind them, one game back.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that one or more teams will pull away from the pack, but given what we know about the early-season performances, it’s more likely this will continue to be a cluster until the end.

Factor in how close the division races also are in the NL Central and NL West, and there seems to be a good chance that when it’s time for that stretch run, we won’t have any idea who’s better poised to win the division, or settle as one of the Wild Cards.

Let the fun begin …

Biggest jump: The Brewers jumped three spots, from 14 to 11. The Brewers are 17-4 since acquiring Willy Adames from the Rays. Adames is batting .280 (21-for-75) with eight extra-base hits and 14 RBIs in 21 games with Milwaukee.

Biggest drop: Not a lot of movement in this category; in fact, the biggest drop was two stops, affecting five teams: the Padres, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Mariners.

1. Rays (1 last week)
The Rays lost one game last week after taking over the top spot, so it’s no surprise they’re back there again. Tampa Bay has won 23 of its past 28 dating back to May 13, outscoring opponents by 86 runs during that stretch. They lead the tough American League East division by three games, and their bullpen leads the AL with a 3.08 ERA, including a 1.59 mark in the past 17 games.

2. Dodgers (4)
The Dodgers took advantage of a lighter portion of their schedule, taking five of six from the Pirates (3-0) and Rangers (2-1). Walker Buehler, who improved to 6-0 with a win over the Rangers Sunday, has made 22 consecutive regular-season starts without a loss. He’s 8-0 with a 2.74 ERA over that span, and the Dodgers are 17-5 in those games. That’s the second-longest such streak in franchise history. (Kirby Higbe went 23 straight starts without a loss from 1943-46.)

3. White Sox (2)
The White Sox have won 15 of their past 20 games, while their starting pitchers are 11-4 with a 2.85 ERA during that stretch. Carlos Rodón, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning vs. the Tigers on Sunday, has a 1.89 ERA this season. It’s second lowest in the AL, behind only teammate Lance Lynn (1.23). Also, entering Sunday’s outing, opponents were hitting just .044 off Rodón’s slider.

4. Giants (5)
The Giants, who have spent more time on the road this year than any team in baseball, are about to play 10 of their next 12 games (vs. the D-backs, Phillies and A’s) at home. Their 5-0 loss in Washington on Sunday marked their 38th road game of the season, of 65 games played (58.5 percent). Meanwhile, the Giants’ bullpen has been nails, no matter where they play. In the past 12 games, relievers have allowed five earned runs, spanning 48 innings.

5. Padres (3)
Slam Diego made a triumphant return on Sunday, when Fernando Tatis Jr. injected some life into a somewhat anemic Padres offense with a grand slam in the seventh inning of a come-from-behind win over the Mets. It was Tatis Jr.’s NL-leading 19th homer. The win ended a four-game losing streak for the Friars.

The rest of the field of 30:

6. Astros (8)
7. A’s (7)
8. Red Sox (6)
9. Cubs (9)
10. Mets (12)
11. Brewers (14)
12. Blue Jays (10)
13. Yankees (11)
14. Indians (13)
15. Cardinals (15)
16. Braves (16)
17. Phillies (18)
18. Reds (17)
19. Marlins (20)
20. Angels (22)
21. Royals (19)
22. Nationals (23)
23. Mariners (21)
24. Twins (24)
25. Rangers (25)
26. Tigers (26)
27. Rockies (27)
28. Pirates (28)
29. D-backs (29)
30. Orioles (30)

Voters: Alyson Footer, Anthony Castrovince, Jesse Sanchez, Mark Feinsand, Nathalie Alonso, Mike Petriello, Sarah Langs, Andrew Simon, David Venn.