Column: Baseball contenders are starting to show
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 00:09
With less than four weeks remaining in the 2013 Major League Baseball season many questions remain. Over the course of the past ten days several teams revealed themselves to be legitimate contenders while others faded from the discussion of postseason contention all together.
Many clubs on the outside looking in have watched their postseason hopes diminish significantly. For some hope is all but lost as desperate times call for desperate measures.
If your team is all but done and your favorite player has already booked his offseason trip to Bermuda, don’t turn your head on America’s favorite pastime yet. There is still Baseball left to be played and there’s plenty to watch for as we enter the final stages of the regular season.
Speaking of emerging favorites to win it all, the Boston Red Sox have looked stronger than ever. For the first time in what seems like, well five years, optimism increases as the club familiarizes itself with September success. Currently holding a five and half game lead in the American League East, the past ten days have been more than friendly to Red Sox Nation.
Boston has won eight of their last ten games and Monday night’s win over Detroit ace Max Scherzer all but erased any midseason doubt concerning the Sox’ ability to come up big in important ballgames. Jon Lester looked like his former self out-pitching Scherzer in an impressive fashion to hand the potential Cy Young candidate his second loss of the season. As the club’s magic number dwindles, diehard Sox fans across New England are hoping their team can bottle enough momentum to fuel a memorable postseason run next month.
As mentioned, Tigers’ righty Max Scherzer has been phenomenal in 2013. Even following Monday night’s loss to Boston the Detroit starter boasts a 19-2 record leading the majors in wins. With 209 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.88 it’s hard to argue against Scherzer’s validity as a Cy Young candidate.
However, the run-support provided for him during his starts has sparked controversy. During his outings this year the Tigers’ offense has provided the ace with an average of 5.79 runs. It’s hard to argue Scherzer’s record would be what it is if those runs were not part of the scenario. Run support or no run support, Scherzer has carried the Detroit rotation this season. The question as to whether he can compliment Miguel Cabrera and lead the Tigers to their second consecutive World Series will be answered next month.
The American League wild card race also remains up for grabs. Six teams are separated by five games in the standings as the hunt for October heats up. Texas has lost its grip on the American League West and is currently tied with Oakland for the division lead as the two battle to avoid a one game wild card playoff.
Tampa Bay holds the second Wild Card spot and all three teams would find themselves in the playoffs if the season were to end tonight. The Yankees and Orioles remain in striking distance with Kansas City close behind.
As the pressure increases, some teams will fold and others will rise to the occasion. The next four weeks will decipher which teams those are.