As a result of “know thyself” is a vital maxim in life, I’ve no hassle admitting that predictions are, um, not precisely my robust swimsuit.
So with this closing month-to-month predictions piece of the season for September/early October, I’ve little alternative however to alter course and to comply with the knowledge of the good twentieth century thinker George Costanza by doing … the alternative. That’s proper: Simply as Costanza acquired a job with the Yankees by going in opposition to his instincts, the entire predictions I current listed below are the alternative of what I feel will occur. It’s, sadly, my solely hope of getting these proper.
For starters, I picked the Braves to repeat as NL East champs at the start of the yr, and, despite the fact that they path going into September, they’ve performed so nicely the final three months that I’m inclined to stay with that choose. That may solely imply …
The Mets will fend off the Braves within the NL East.
With the Mets in first since April 12, I suppose that is an “reverse” prediction I can really feel comfy with. The Mets additional proved their mettle by taking 4 of 5 from the Braves in early August, and their monumental three-game sequence in Atlanta on the final weekend of the common season is sandwiched between sequence in opposition to the A’s, Marlins and Nationals. They’re in nice place to complete the job.
However that final sequence between these two golf equipment, from Sept. 30-Oct. 2, seems to be prefer it’s going to be a must-watch matchup in baseball’s finest division race. It will likely be fascinating to see how Spencer Strider, whose emergence within the rotation has been so important for the Braves, handles the late-season innings load in his rookie yr and if Ronald Acuña Jr., who remains to be coping with knee ache after final yr’s surgical procedure, can flip it up a notch. Anyway, like I stated, I just like the Braves, and I feel they’ve what it takes to complete in first. That’s why they in all probability gained’t.
The Brewers will oust the Padres from the playoff image.
I gained’t go up to now in opposition to my intestine as to counsel the Brewers will overtake the Cardinals within the NL Central, and I don’t have the center to inform Phillies followers that their playoff drought will probably be extended by a September swoon.
However issues might get fascinating between Milwaukee and San Diego, particularly given the overhang of the Josh Hader commerce they made with one another and the way that impacts the house stretch. As of now, neither staff has benefited all that a lot, although, and with Hader having imploded in his first few innings with the Padres, you’d must say the Brewers acquired the higher finish of the deal up to now. In my coronary heart of hearts, I feel the Padres are the higher of those two groups. However this “reverse” prediction may need benefit in that the Friars are going to be dealing with a ton of stress within the closing month, given the best way they collapsed final yr and the way a lot weight has been positioned on their present window with the Soto acquisition.
In fact, one other fascinating race within the NL has nothing to do with a playoff spot. It’s Albert Pujols’ race in opposition to time within the bid to hit No. 700. Pujols’ walk-off yr has been enthralling, and I’d like to see him do it. Alas, my intestine tells me he’s going to return up quick. So …
Albert Pujols will hit No. 700.
He’s six away. In his Corridor of Fame-worthy profession, Pujols has hit six or extra homers in a month 60 occasions. That’s 5 full calendar years’ price of six-homer months!
So yeah, it doesn’t matter what my intestine says, possibly No. 5 actually can pull off No. 700. I’ll level this out, although: The Playing cards end the yr with six video games in opposition to the Pirates, who as of this writing have three lefties within the bullpen however none within the rotation. That might make the 700 chase a bit more difficult.
Oh, after which there’s that different big house run chase. I really feel assured that Aaron Choose will break Roger Maris’ American League house run report, which may solely imply …
Aaron Choose is not going to break the American League house run report.
Even when his present tempo is 63, Choose may very well be like each single hitter in MLB since 2001 and end south of 60 (maybe by matching teammate Giancarlo Stanton’s complete of 59 from 2017 with the Marlins).
That will be upsetting for us followers of historic pursuits, nevertheless it’s definitely not inconceivable. The stress is ratcheting up with every passing day, and, whereas the current return of Stanton to the lineup ought to mitigate this problem, Choose has begun to see a decline within the proportion of fastballs within the zone.
However hey, even when Choose doesn’t hit 60 or 62, the Yankees’ standing atop the AL East positive seems to be protected to me, which — uh-oh — can solely imply …
The Rays will take over the AL East.
Or possibly it’s the Blue Jays. However the Rays nonetheless have six video games left in opposition to the Yanks, starting this weekend in St. Petersburg, whereas the Jays have solely three left. So if the Bronx Bombers have been to utterly blow up what was as soon as a 15 1/2-game benefit, the Rays are the extra probably staff to take them down. The continued absence of Wander Franco hurts the probabilities of this really taking place, as does a brutal September schedule for Tampa Bay. However you know the way the Rays roll, and currently they’ve certainly been rolling, with the lineup boosted by the in-season trades for David Peralta and Jose Siri and the returns from harm for Manuel Margot, Francisco Mejía and Harold Ramírez.
That will be a loopy shakeup within the East. However nothing is as loopy because the Orioles’ profitable report. I must think about the younger O’s will come undone underneath the stress of this sudden playoff race. That may solely imply …
The O’s will win a Wild Card spot!
As of now, they’d must take one from the Blue Jays or Mariners. (We’ll assume, for this train, that the Yankees on the very least maintain on to a Wild Card spot, OK?)
Of the 2, the Blue Jays are essentially the most weak, if solely due to the character of the schedule. Baltimore and Toronto nonetheless play one another 10 extra occasions, and the O’s are 6-3 in opposition to the Jays up to now. Additionally, as with the Phillies, I don’t have it in me to foretell that Seattle falls aside. So let’s put it in writing: The AL Wild Playing cards would be the Yankees, Mariners and Orioles.
The Twins will win the AL Central.
Solely as a result of I feel the Guardians, whose pitching has been significantly incredible within the second half and whose remaining schedule seems favorable, will win the AL Central.
However the Twins and Guards have eight extra video games in opposition to one another, together with a beautiful five-game set in Cleveland from Sept. 16-19. It might all come all the way down to that. And with no tiebreaker video games this yr, the AL Central title (and fairly presumably the one playoff spot to return from the AL Central) might come all the way down to who has the head-to-head edge within the season sequence (for now, the Guards are forward, 6-5).
Whereas the AL Central race is shut, the one actual drama the AL West-leading Astros face is whether or not Justin Verlander, who’s presently out with a calf problem, can nail down his third Cy Younger Award. Verlander’s return to Cy Younger type at age 39 and following Tommy John surgical procedure is likely one of the very best tales of the season. This harm hurdle apart, I occur to assume he’ll be the clear frontrunner at yr’s finish. Meaning …
An Astro aside from Justin Verlander would be the Cy Younger frontrunner at yr’s finish.
At the same time as Verlander enters the ultimate month-plus because the heavy favourite for the AL Cy, the veteran’s harm complicates his bid. Elsewhere within the AL Cy race, Chicago’s Dylan Stop had an ERA over 3.00 in August (that’s nonetheless good, after all, however does have an effect on his total Cy case), and Toronto’s Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman plus Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan all have ERAs over 3.00 within the second half, with McClanahan presently on the IL resulting from a left shoulder impingement. Shohei Ohtani’s within the dialog, however voters may maintain his smaller variety of begins/innings in opposition to him.
In the meantime, there’s Valdez, cruising together with 22 straight high quality begins and simply 5 runs allowed in his final 29 innings. To be clear, his Cy case presently pales compared to that of Verlander:
Valdez: 14-4, 2.63 ERA, 164 IP, 145 ERA+, 2.68 Ok/BB, 1.12 WHIP
Verlander: 16-3, 1.84 ERA, 152 IP, 208 ERA+, 5.92 Ok/BB, 0.86 WHIP
But when Verlander’s harm lingers or compromises him in any respect, the race might tighten.
Talking of pitching prominence, it appears protected to imagine 2022 would be the tenth consecutive season with out a excellent sport. As I’ve written, there are a number of the reason why one of many longest excellent sport droughts in historical past has continued this yr, and I firmly count on that it’ll final by way of the yr.
Welp, you recognize what which means …
There will probably be an ideal sport!
Who will throw it? Look, I’ve already informed you I stink at predictions, so I don’t know. However I do know that 65% of excellent video games — and every of the final 4 — have been thrown by right-handers. Which makes me assume will probably be a righty. Which makes it a certainty that will probably be a lefty.