Power Rankings: Races heat up in August

August 16th, 2021

Here come the Yankees?

The season can probably be separated into two categories for the Yanks, with a 70-30 split: It’s been frustrating around 70 percent of the time, and the other 30 has been ... less frustrating?

But things are looking up for the Bronx Bombers, and as we know, as long as a team can somewhat stay afloat through the first four months of the season, anything can happen in the last two. And it sure looks like the Yankees are trending upward. They’re 14-5 in their past 19 games, and they haven’t lost a series since losing three of four to the Red Sox July 22-25.

That’s not to say everything is rosy. There have been few easy wins. They’ve blown the lead in the eighth inning or later 18 times this year, the most in MLB. There are issues in the bullpen, starting with Zack Britton, who has a 6.94 ERA with 11 walks in 14 games since he returned from the IL.

But the Yankees have managed to creep up in both races -- in the AL East, where they’re in third place, 5 1/2 games behind the Rays, and the Wild Card, where they’re 2 1/2 behind the Red Sox for the second spot.

Also keep an eye on the surging Reds, who are 2 1/2 games behind the Padres for the second National League Wild Card spot. Cincinnati is 9-5 so far this month.

Biggest jump: Three teams jumped three spots: the A’s (10 to 7), Jays (14 to 11) and Braves (15 to 12). The Braves have won 10 of their past 12 games, and they’ve scored 72 runs (6 runs per game) and hit 24 home runs during that span.

Biggest drop: The Orioles dropped three, from 27 to 30. After being swept in Boston, the O’s road trip doesn’t get any easier -- they have a four-game set coming up this week at Tropicana Field.

Power Rankings Top 5

1) Giants (1)
The Giants, who have the best record in baseball at 76-42, have won 12 of their past 15 games. On Monday, they begin a stretch of 19 consecutive games vs. playoff contenders: the Mets (6), A's (3), Braves (3), Brewers (4) and Dodgers (3). Their next series vs. a sub.-500 team arrives on Sept. 6, when they travel to Colorado for a three-game set with the Rockies.

2) Dodgers (2)
The Dodgers, who have the largest positive run differential at +193, have won 10 of 13 games since July 31, the day after the Trade Deadline. Max Scherzer has been as good as advertised, allowing four runs over 16 1/3 innings (2.20 ERA) to start his Dodgers tenure.

3) Rays (5)
The Rays dropped the final two games of their series with the Twins, marking the first time they lost consecutive games since July 27-28 against the Yankees. Still, since then, Tampa Bay has won 11 of 16 games and moved from 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox to a three-game division lead. No team has scored more runs since the All-Star break than the Rays (168).

4) Astros (3)
The Astros rolled through opponents during their four-game winning streak that ended Sunday, outscoring the opposition, 22-4. The pitchers did well, too -- starters allowed three earned runs over 23 innings, and relievers allowed one earned run over 13 innings. The Astros have a favorable schedule coming up -- they’ll play the Royals seven times in the next 10 days, with a three-game set with the Mariners in between.

5) Brewers (6)
The Brewers are on pace for 98 wins, which would break their regular-season franchise record of 96, accomplished in 2011 (96-66) and '18 (96-67). They are 15-2 over their past 17 road games, and they have three more remaining on their current trip. They’ll play the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in a three-game set beginning Tuesday.

The rest of the field of 30

  1. White Sox (4 last week)
  2. A’s (10)
  3. Padres (7)
  4. Yankees (9)
  5. Red Sox (8)
  6. Blue Jays (14)
  7. Braves (15)
  8. Phillies (11)
  9. Reds (12)
  10. Mets (13)
  11. Mariners (16)
  12. Cardinals (17)
  13. Tigers (19)
  14. Angels (20)
  15. Indians (18)
  16. Twins (22)
  17. Marlins (21)
  18. Cubs (24)
  19. Rockies (25)
  20. Nationals (23)
  21. Royals (26)
  22. Pirates (28)
  23. Rangers (29)
  24. D-backs (30)
  25. Orioles (27)

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