The postseason starts in just a few weeks, but that still leaves plenty of time for teams to accomplish their goals down the stretch.
For some teams, the final two weeks of the regular season will be used to get healthy and prepare for the playoffs. For those out of contention, the time will be used to evaluate rosters and consider which players will be part of the future.
It could be one of the busiest and most impactful periods of the season.
For our American League West notebook this week, we asked our beat writers to identify the goals for the teams they cover during the final two weeks of the season. This is what the experts said.
Angels: Evaluate young players for the future
The Angels are still on the fringe of the postseason race after a four-game sweep of the Astros during the first weekend of September, but they remain likely to miss the playoffs for the sixth straight year. So it'll be important for them to continue to develop top prospect Jo Adell in right field while also giving at-bats to fellow youngsters such as outfielder Taylor Ward, first baseman Jared Walsh and infielder Matt Thaiss. Young right-handers Jaime Barria and Griffin Canning will also continue to get looks in the rotation, while left-hander Patrick Sandoval could make a few spot starts. The Angels need to get a glimpse of who they can count on next year to pair with veteran stars such as Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. They aren't going into a rebuild and are looking to win next season despite their struggles in 2020. -- Rhett Bollinger
Astros: Get healthy
The Astros, despite getting swept by the Angels on Sept. 4-6 and then losing four of five to the A’s to drop under .500, are a near lock to make the playoffs. How far they go could depend on health. Starting pitchers Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr. are on the IL and could return by season’s end. Second baseman Jose Altuve (right knee sprain) returned from the IL on Tuesday and is batting second in his first game back. Those are three huge pieces to their success who have strong postseason track records. The Astros have been devastated by injuries, but they still have a chance to be as healthy as they’ve been all season heading into the playoffs. If they are, they’ll be an uneasy first-round matchup for one of the AL’s top teams of 2020. -- Brian McTaggart
Athletics: Determine the postseason rotation
With the A’s firmly in control of first place in the AL West, the focus over the final few weeks of the regular season will be on how they plan to attack a Wild Card Series from the pitching side. Sean Manaea seems to be cementing himself as one of the playoff starters, posting a 1.98 ERA over his past five outings. Rookie Jesús Luzardo is probably a lock with his electric stuff. The third man is a toss-up. Opening Day starter Frankie Montas has a 10.80 ERA over his past five starts. Meanwhile, Chris Bassitt has been consistent, turning in starts of two runs allowed or fewer in six of nine outings this season. -- Martin Gallegos
Mariners: Keep seeing improvement from the young players
This has been the goal all season, and it’s important now to see the key rookies finish well and continue building toward 2021. Center fielder Kyle Lewis has cooled off at the plate after a hot first month, while first baseman Evan White has heated up following a slow start. The Mariners would like to see both former first-round picks finish strong, along with rookie starters Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn and emerging relievers Joey Gerber and Yohan Ramirez. It’s also a critical time for catcher Luis Torrens and designated hitter/infielder Ty France -- two of the players acquired from the Padres at the Trade Deadline -- to show how they might fit going forward. -- Greg Johns
Rangers: Determine if Gibson and Lyles can be cornerstones in the rotation
So far, the answer is no. Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles were signed for the back end of the Rangers’ rotation this season. Next year, they could be higher, considering Texas traded Mike Minor and it’s doubtful the club will pick up an option on Corey Kluber. The Rangers have Lance Lynn to head the rotation next season and have some decent young candidates coming up. But Gibson is under contract for two more years and Lyles is signed for next season. Gibson had a reputation for being an underachieving innings-eater for the Twins, and the Rangers may have overestimated his potential to be more than that. They also may have been hasty in counting on Lyles repeating an outstanding 11-start run for the Brewers last season rather than weighing his entire career body of work. -- T.R. Sullivan