Handicapping the MLB Stretch Run

Doc's Sports | Sep 24, 2012 | ARCHIVE

Ten days from now we’ll be into October, and the MLB regular season will be over. Before then, though, there is a whole lot of betting left to be done.

Capping the Division races

Only the AL East and AL Central are really in play at this point.

AL East

Crucial series: New York at Minnesota, Sept. 24-26. Minnesota has won four of six, and took two of four in New York earlier. If New York falters here the O’s can get ahead -- they play four “gimme” games against Toronto.

AL Central

Crucial series: Cleveland at Chicago, Sept. 24-26. Chicago has lost five straight, but it returns home for an easy three-gamer. If the Sox don’t have two wins by Tuesday, though, they could be in trouble. Detroit is struggling, too, so Chicago needs to find momentum and maintain its lead.

Capping the wildcard races

AL

Crucial series: Angels at Rangers, Sept. 28-30. The red-hot Angels play six against hapless Seattle, so these three in Texas will matter most. With a strong performance they could climb past the A’s - who are faced with seven against the Rangers.

NL

Crucial series: St. Louis at Houston, Sept. 24-26. The cards swept the Astros last week. If they do it again here and it should be all over in the NL.

Capping clinched clubs

Three NL teams have secured their postseason tickets. We’re unlikely to see a strong, representative effort from any of them down the stretch.

San Francisco

With serious questions about who their fourth starter will be and how to shape the rotation, you can be sure they will focus on this far more than on winning down the stretch.

Cincinnati

The Reds celebrated their title on Sunday by giving five starters the day off. Rest appears to be their focus for their remaining games.

Washington

They have a bit more work to do. They have secured a wild card spot, but they still have to win the division. When they do, though, Davey Johnson says that rest will be his only priority.

Capping teams out of the race

Give up on:

Miami

Ozzie Guillen is a serious distraction and Atlanta and Philadelphia will be hungry for wins, so it seems likely that the Marlins will give up -- or keep giving up like they have for weeks now.

Toronto

They are an ugly, injury-riddled mess. They play the Orioles and then the Yankees, so they will feature prominently in the fate of their division title. An 0-8 record over that stretch is conceivable. 

There is still fight in:

Minnesota

The Twins have won four of six, showed no fear against Detroit this weekend, and could give those Tigers and the Yankees some headaches this week.