Aug 29, 2014, 12:03 PM EST
Here is a look around Major League Baseball with analysis of each team from Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Chase Hughes and myself, Steve Roney:
1. Angels (LW: 1) – Zuckerman: The Garrett Richards injury is big, but not too big to completely derail this very good team.
2. Nationals (LW: 4) – Hughes: Over the next five days we’ll see Zimmermann vs. King Felix and Fister vs. Kershaw. Yes please.
3. Athletics (LW: 3) – Zuckerman: Haven’t been the same since Cespedes-Lester trade, but the sense is this is more a brief blip than a full-scale collapse.
4. Orioles (LW: 2) – Hughes: Chis Tillman has been pitching like an ace over the last month. I like the O’s chances in October a lot more if he keeps it up.
5. Dodgers (LW: 5) – Zuckerman: Ryu close to returning from injury, which will fortify that rotation.
6. Royals (LW: 6) – Roney: If you’re a fan of the game, how could you not pull for the Royals in their push for October?
7. Brewers (LW: 7) – Roney: Scooter Gennett (.307/.340/.473) has been the middle infield breakout this year – unfortunately, Jean Segura (.237/.277/.320) has cratered in a tough (and personally trying) sophomore campaign.
8. Tigers (LW: 9) – Roney: Like the A’s, they have been down since their bold deal for another ace – and as with Lester, it’s not because Price has disappointed. More runs, please.
9. Mariners (LW: 11) – Zuckerman: Do they have what it’ll take to beat out the loser of the AL Central race for the final wild card?
10. Cardinals (LW: 8) – Roney: The term “dead arm” should terrify every Cards fan right now – those “phases” are never over quickly.
11. Giants (LW: 12) – Zuckerman: Not a whole lot seems to going well in San Fran these days, but they’re clinging to the final wild card berth.
12. Braves (LW: 10) – Hughes: If only the B.J. Upton for Edwin Jackson trade didn’t fall through. Seeing E-Jax join the Braves in a pennant race would have been something.
13. Marlins (LW: 16) – Hughes: Giancarlo Stanton already has 150 career home runs and could have an MVP award on his mantel by the end of this year. He’s 24 years old.
14. Yankees (LW: 13) – Hughes: They are just three games out of a wild card spot and could get Tanaka back soon. Will Jeter play in October one more time?
15. Pirates (LW: 14) – Roney: Gerrit Cole is back and dealing, but is it already too late?
16. Blue Jays (LW: 15) – Hughes: Toronto has fallen hard with a 7-16 record in August. Maybe next year they will get it together for a full season.
17. Reds (LW: 19) – Roney: Raise your hand if you picked Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco to be 1-2 in homers for the Reds this year. Awesome bounce back/breakout seasons there.
18. Indians (LW: 17) – Roney: Danny Salazar has been much better since returning from exile – the goal now is to refine the control and build confidence for 2015.
19. Rays (LW: 18) – Hughes: Nice to see them salvage their season, but I think at this point it’s clear they aren’t making the playoffs.
20. Mets (LW: 20) – Hughes: Lucas Duda (26 HR, 76 RBI, .349 OBP) gives the Mets a solid position player to build around with their pitching staff already showing promise.
21. Padres (LW: 22) – Zuckerman: Have been playing better than most realize, just dug themselves into too big a hole early on.
22. Phillies (LW: 23) – Hughes: The Phillies are first in something – they have the best record among last place teams this year.
23. Red Sox (LW: 27) – Hughes: Boston has been awful this season, but David Ortiz has been good once again. He has 30 homers, 93 RBI and an .886 OPS at age 38.
24. White Sox (LW: 21) – Roney: Maybe my favorite Chris Sale stat: 5.7 K/BB ratio. No one else on the staff has a ratio above 3.
25. Cubs (LW: 23) – Roney: Another Cubs slugger/phenom homers in his first game. They may not ever be great, but these teams could be very fun to watch over the coming years.
26. Twins (LW: 26) – Roney: It baffles me that more bad teams don’t unload their closers. What is Glen Perkins still doing in Minneapolis?
27. Diamondbacks (LW: 28) – Zuckerman: Out of nowhere, David Peralta looks like a pretty solid ballplayer for Arizona.
28. Astros (LW: 25) – Zuckerman: If they can somehow get to 70 wins, would be huge accomplishment after 3 straight 100-loss seasons.
29. Rockies (LW: 29) – Zuckerman: Not a single starter with an ERA under 4.00. It’s like the old days at Coors Field.
30. Rangers (LW: 30) – Zuckerman: An utter disaster of a season in Texas.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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