Fewer than three weeks remain in the regular season and the postseason races are much tighter than it looked like they would be a few weeks ago. We're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and there is still so much to be decided. Postseason races, award races, pursuits of history, etc.
Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB scribes will bring you a weekly roundtable breaking down, well, pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we debated the Giants and Rays as a more serious World Series contender. This week we're breaking down the best postseason race in the AL.
Who will be the two AL wild card teams?
R.J. Anderson: A few weeks ago, I said the Blue Jays were the most likely team on the fringe to go on a run. Sure enough, they have. I buy them hanging in there because they have one of the best run differential in the game thanks to one of the majors' top lineups. As for the other spot, I still lean the Yankees. The Red Sox have a better run differential, but their COVID outbreak has left them in a weakened state.
Dayn Perry: I think at a fundamental, underlying level, the Blue Jays are among the very best teams in baseball, especially since the trade deadline. As such, I like their chances to take the top wild-card spot. For the second spot, I'll narrowly lean Red Sox over Yankees, in part because Boston has a modestly easier schedule the rest of the way.
Mike Axisa: I think the Blue Jays might be the best team in the American League right now. Their end-of-season record won't reflect it and it doesn't mean they're guaranteed to make a deep postseason run, but it's a powerhouse offense with four above-average starters (arguably five) and enough arms in the bullpen to figure it out. They're on one of those "I have no idea how anyone will stop this team" runs, so I'll say they host the Wild Card Game.
The Red Sox have a more favorable remaining schedule than the Yankees, and while that doesn't guarantee wins, I'd rather have the easier schedule. How about this: I'll say the Yankees and Red Sox tie for the second wild-card spot and play a Game 163 tiebreaker (in Boston because they won the season series). I'll say the Yankees win Game 163 because I have a hard time betting against Gerrit Cole, so it'll be Yankees-Blue Jays in the Wild Card Game.
Matt Snyder: The Blue Jays just feel too dangerous right now to do anything but put them in the first wild-card spot (and a serious threat to come out of the AL at this point, but that's a different discussion for a different day). That offense is just so ferocious that an entire game could swing with seemingly no notice. It just happened a few Fridays ago against the A's. They aren't one-dimensional, either, as they have plenty of pitching. For the second spot, I still just can't see the Mariners clearing both the Red Sox and the Yankees while the A's have been in a bad way since Chris Bassitt went down (it started a few days before that, but the Bassitt head injury surely hurt their psyche as well as the obvious on-field impact). Neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox seem ready to run away with things, though, so let's call it a tie. We'll see Gerrit Cole vs. either Nathan Eovaldi or Chris Sale in a Game 163 playoff to see who gets Robbie Ray in the Wild Card Game the next night.