The Orioles ended their weekend with a split of their series against the Blue Jays, leaving themselves right where they started, one and a half games back of the Twins for the second wild card spot in the American League. It could have been better, but it could have been worse, too.
There are 25 games remaining for the Orioles in the regular season. They’re still going to need to get hot again the rest of the way, and they’re going to have to do it against teams who are either better than them or competing for the same spot as them.
Taking only two out of four against the Jays may be the kind of lost opportunity that will haunt them before the end of the season. Here’s where things stand on Labor Day for the wild card chase.
- Record: 71-65
- Standing: 1.5 games ahead of Orioles and Angels
- Current playoff odds (ESPN): 42.0%
- Next week: at Rays (three games), at Royals (four games)
- Games remaining against playoff contenders: 13/26
The Rays and the Royals, who the Twins are playing over the next week, are both wild card contenders farther down in the picture, but they’re still teams capable of winning. After all, the Royals just beat the Twins two out of three games over this weekend, which is what let the O’s stay where they are in the chase.
There are a lot of gimme games left for the Twins, though. They still have seven games against the disappointing Tigers. They have four games to play against the Jays and another two against the Padres. So if the Orioles are going to overtake them, this is really going to be the week to do it.
- Record: 70-67
- Standing: 1.5 games behind Twins
- Current playoff odds (ESPN): 12.7%
- Next week: vs. Yankees (three games), at Indians (three games)
- Games remaining against playoff contenders: 20/25
It’s not going to be any easier of a week for the Orioles, it turns out. Although the Yankees have slipped a bit lately, they’re 3.5 games ahead of the O’s for a reason, and they have a lot to play for themselves, with an outside shot at chasing down the Red Sox for the division.
Can the offense heat back up enough to overcome the starting rotation? Can pitchers other than Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman string together some good starts down the stretch?
Los Angeles Angels, etc.
- Record: 70-67
- Standing: 1.5 games behind Twins
- Current playoff odds (ESPN): 28.4%
- Next week: at Athletics (three games), at Mariners (three games)
- Games remaining against playoff contenders: 18/25
Garrett Richards is going to be back on Tuesday. Mike Trout is still Mike Trout. Andrelton Simmons is getting some attention for the AL MVP race thanks to his strong defense. They have some freebie games against the Athletics continuing to start their week out. It’s going to be a big week for everybody, if you hadn’t noticed.
- Record: 69-68
- Standing: 2.5 games behind Twins
- Current playoff odds (ESPN): 8.7%
- Next week: vs. Astros (three games), vs. Angels (three games)
- Games remaining against playoff contenders: 22/25
These guys really have the hardest road to travel, without even getting into their 2.5 game deficit they still need to make up. Is Mike Leake going to be their difference-maker? I wouldn’t want to count on that, but desperate times do call for desperate measures.
- Record: 68-68
- Standing: Three games behind Twins
- Current playoff odds (ESPN): 6.6%
- Next week: at Braves (three games), vs. Yankees (three games)
- Games remaining against playoff contenders: 16/26
The Texas squad has one of the easier schedules the rest of the way, with a particular advantage over the last week and a half of the season, where they get seven of their last ten games against the Athletics. They have a little bit of a bonus coming this week too when they cross into the NL to play a series against the Braves. It’s a little too early to count them out.
Kansas City Royals
- Record: 67-68
- Standing: 3.5 games behind the Twins
- Current playoff odds (ESPN): 9.5%
- Next week: at Tigers (three games), vs. Twins (four games)
- Games remaining against playoff contenders: 9/27
Did you think the Twins had an easy time the rest of the way? Just kidding! It’s actually the Royals. Seriously, they still have six games to play against the Tigers, six games to play against the White Sox, and three more against the Jays and Diamondbacks, just for good measure. They really have all the luck... and after losing seven of their last ten games, they’re going to need it.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Record: 68-70
- Standing: Four games behind the Twins
- Current playoff odds (ESPN): 6.3%
- Next week: vs. Twins (three games), at Red Sox (three games)
- Games remaining against playoff contenders: 24/24
And here’s the hardest road to travel. Not only do they have ground to make up, they’re going to have to beat just about everybody who’s good in order to get there. It takes a lot to fall out of the AL wild card race this year. As time runs out, the Rays are almost to that point.
If they implode, that’s good news for the Orioles, who will play seven of their final ten games against this Rays squad. I bet they wish they still had Tim Beckham.
A month ago, it looked like the absurd possiblity of a wild card team sneaking in with just 82 wins was in play. Things have gotten a bit better since then. Fangraphs now thinks that the Twins will get to 84 wins and that this will be enough for the second wild card spot. That would only take a 14-11 record the rest of the way... if 84 wins is actually enough.
The bottom line is really that the Orioles just have to win as many games as possible. There’s no more time to give away games and console themselves that they can win another one later.