The Major League Baseball season is now just three weeks away from ending, and there are plenty of questions as to which teams will make the playoffs, who will be the top seeds in their respective leagues, and whether some teams are contenders or pretenders.
Teams like the Padres and White Sox have made a big step forward in 2020, competing with long-time powerhouses like the Dodgers and Indians as postseason threats, which brings us to our first question:
Can the upstart Padres and White Sox compete in October?
The Padres (27-17) and White Sox (26-16) have ridden the backs of young and rising talent to emerge as playoff locks and as a potential threat in October. But are these teams for real, and could they compete for a World Series?
The Padres have arguably been the story of the season so far, riding an MVP-caliber performance from second-year shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., a big year from resurgent superstar Manny Machado, and major contributions from pitchers such as Zach Davies and Dinelson Lamet to find themselves with the NL’s second-best record. They look pretty real, as a deep rotation and a solid enough bullpen could be enough to back up a strong lineup for an October run.
The White Sox might not have anyone putting up crazy numbers like the Padres’ Tatis, but breakout rookie Luis Robert has been plenty impressive himself alongside lineup staples like Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu. Lucas Giolito and new addition Dallas Keuchel are, however, pitching like Cy Young candidates and they have a top-ten bullpen in the Majors. They might not be as big of a threat as the Padres, but don’t worry a deep run out for this upstart squad.
Who will emerge from the jumbled-up NL East?
The NL East has been baseball’s weirdest division so far, with the Miami Marlins contending for a division title out of nowhere, the defending World Series champions in the cellar, and the Braves and Phillies looking as if they just don’t want to stake their claim as the favorite.
While the Braves currently have a two-game lead, the Phillies (1.5 GB) and the Marlins (2 GB) look like threats to challenge them for their third consecutive crown. As baseball’s weakest record division-wise, making the top two in the division is probably these teams’ only way to qualify for the playoffs.
Atlanta might be the favorites, but the surging Phillies and the underdog Marlins will battle along with them to qualify for the postseason.
Will the New York Yankees right the ship?
The Yankees have arguably been baseball’s biggest disappointment this season, as the Bronx Bombers are limping along at 21-21 and would be the #8 seed (barely) in the playoffs if the season ended today.
Injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge have hurt the Yankees, and the fact that rotation and bullpen staples like James Paxton, Luis Severino, and Tommy Kahnle have missed time haven’t helped things either.
Nonetheless, a healthy Yankees team is still talented enough to be a major October threat. Will they have all of their key players healthy by the time the playoffs start, if they even qualify?