Every week, the Pitcher List team publishes an update to our MLB Power Rankings, reviewing the biggest risers and fallers of the past seven days. As always, the full rankings can be found at the bottom of this article … but where’s the fun in that?
With just over five weeks left in the season, there isn’t much room to move in our MLB Power Rankings. So taking a leap up or down means a pretty significant change for those teams vying for a playoff berth. Such is the case with this week’s featured teams.
Meanwhile, after a bit of a shakeup in the top five last week, there was only a minor flip-flopping as the Tampa Bay Rays moved up one spot over the Texas Rangers. The team in Atlanta remains No. 1, followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers at No. 2 and Baltimore Orioles at No. 3. At the other end of the spectrum, the Oakland A’s, despite taking two of three from the Kansas City Royals for the second time this season, remains 30th, while the Royals are somehow ahead of the Colorado Rockies despite being eight games worse in the standings.
Movin’ On Up
Rank change: +3 (14 to T-11)
It has really been hard to generate any confidence about the Red Sox this season, but Boston continues to hang around in the American League wild-card standings. Normally a sweep of the rival New York Yankees would draw headlines, but everyone these days is sweeping the last-place Yankees (see: 10-game losing streak). A better series to judge where the Red Sox are was the four-gamer against the Houston Astros that concluded Thursday. Boston earned a split, leaving the Red Sox 3½ games behind the Astros for the final AL wild-card spot.
The hurdles for the Red Sox to clear in order to make the postseason seem a little more imposing. The Mariners, who hold the last AL wild-card position, have been on a tear, while the Toronto Blue Jays, 1½ games behind Houston, simply have a stronger roster. The next five series will show if the Red Sox belong as they face four contenders in the Dodgers and Astros at home, then, after a road series against the lowly Royals, the Rays on the road and the Orioles at home. Even if they survive that, there are series remaining against the Jays, Rangers, Rays, and Orioles left on the schedule.
While the Red Sox have been terrific offensively, it has been their recent excellent pitching that has kept them in contention. The rotation has questions, even at the top with veteran left-hander Chris Sale and whether he will hold up the rest of the season. That just means more of a workload for a bullpen that has been solid but has logged the fourth-most innings this season.
Hittin’ The Skids
Rank change: -14 (11 to 14)
After surging into contention during July, the Giants have found August to be rough going. After taking three of four from the Arizona Diamondbacks to begin the month, the Giants dropped both games of the Bay Bridge Series to the lowly A’s, then have gone 1-2 in series vs. the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta, and Philadelphia Phillies. Despite that rough stretch, the Giants are just a half-game out of the last National League wild-card berth. They continue that tough August schedule with three home games against Atlanta beginning Friday.
The Giants have the third-worst team OPS in August at .648, ahead of only the Angels and Cleveland Guardians, and have scored the third-fewest runs at 71, which is less than half of Atlanta’s league-best 145. Pitching-wise, the Giants have been middle of the road this month with a 4.28 team ERA, dragging their season ranking to ninth in that category.
As are many teams, the Giants are dealing with their share of injuries and haven’t found the right solutions to fill those voids. They called up top prospect Kyle Harrison, a left-hander who made his MLB debut against the Phillies this week. If Harrison can step up, that will bolster the pitching staff, but that does not solve the offensive woes. St. Louis Cardinals castoff Paul DeJong was signed to play shortstop as Brandon Crawford recovers from a left forearm strain. Young outfielders Luis Matos and Heliot Ramos, two of the team’s top prospects, have yet to inject life into the offense, with Ramos recently being sent back down and Matos coming back from a demotion.
Week 21 MLB Power Rankings