MLB Sports

Every MLB contender's greatest concern heading into the stretch run


Baseball’s 2021 commerce deadline was extremely busy, a bit chaotic and fully thrilling. However why was the dial turned up a couple of notches? 

A number of causes, however right here’s the most important one: The secondary commerce deadline — historically Aug. 31, when gamers who’ve been placed on waivers will be moved — is a factor of the previous. With out that security web, groups needed to handle their weaknesses by the July 30 deadline or be content material with what was at the moment within the group. Technically, some trades are nonetheless allowed, however just for gamers not on a present 40-man roster, and people forms of gamers usually aren’t “upgrades” 

MORE: SN’s post-trade deadline MLB energy rankings

So, principally, the weaknesses a workforce has now will possible be a weak point they’re coping with the remainder of the season, until an injured participant returns to fill the void. For some groups, that’s an enormous deal. For others, it’s nothing greater than a tiny velocity bump. 

Let’s check out the most important weaknesses for each contender. We’re defining “contenders” as any workforce inside 4 video games of a playoff spot heading into Tuesday’s video games. That’s 14 groups, complete. 

Inside hanging distance


Playoff place: 3 again of second AL wild card
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 3.0 %

Greatest concern: Possibly that is nothing. Who is aware of? However bear in mind when GM Jerry DiPoto traded elite nearer Kendal Graveman the day after the membership’s stirring come-from-behind victory in opposition to the division-rival Astros? Gamers had been understandably upset. A membership with momentum and perception was undermined by the entrance workplace. The Mariners have misplaced 4 of 5 since then, and a street bump to get previous — they had been one again of the second wild-card spot after that win — is beginning to doubtlessly seem like a steep hill. 


Playoff place: 3.5 again in NL East
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 16.8 %

Greatest concern: When inconsistency is a workforce’s solely constant attribute, it’s powerful to make a playoff push. And the one method to keep in a playoff race enjoying the best way the Braves have recently is to get fortunate and compete in a poor division. Such is life within the NL East in 2021. For actual, have a look at this. 

Yep. It’s a little bit of every thing. When the pitching is nice, the offense isn’t. When the offense is nice, the bullpen falters. When the pitching and hitting is strong, the defensive makes a key hiccup or two. The Braves didn’t make any earth-shattering strikes, however they did fully remake their outfield, bringing in Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler. It could possibly be simply the factor, however then once more including hitters with OPS+ numbers of 97, 85 and 82 for the season simply would possibly result in extra of the identical.


Playoff place: 4 again of the second NL wild card
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 22.1 %

Greatest concern: The items are right here for the Reds to make a run, particularly now that the bullpen reinforcements have arrived and Joey Votto is again to being Joey Freaking Votto. There simply hasn’t been sufficient consistency within the rotation, exterior of Luis Castillo (1.95 ERA for the reason that begin of June) and Wade Miley (2.92 season ERA). Sonny Grey was cruising together with a pleasant stretch, then had back-to-back hiccup begins in July. Tyler Mahle had a three-start stretch with a 5.51 ERA in July. 


Playoff place: 2.5 again in NL East
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 26.5 %

Greatest concern: Protection. The protection is, placing it kindly, very mediocre, which is why buying and selling their greatest pitching prospect for a contact pitcher in Kyle Gibson felt like a wierd match for the rotation. Let’s have a look at the stat Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). Right here’s the definition, from “DRS quantifies a participant’s whole defensive efficiency by trying to measure what number of runs a defender saved. It takes into consideration errors, vary, outfield arm and double-play skill.”

Now, have a look at this statistic, from FanGraphs: By DRS, the Phillies are final in baseball, at minus-40. The Tigers are next-to-last, at minus-39. Know who’s in first place? The Mets, at plus-48 (tied with the Marlins). That’s an enormous, huge hole. Actually, it’s fairly unimaginable that the Phillies are even within the dialog within the division with a defensive disparity like that. 


Playoff place: 3 again of second AL wild card
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 48.3 %

Greatest concern: Let’s simply borrow what we wrote for the post-deadline energy rankings: Nonetheless, it’s truthful to surprise how the pitching will maintain up week to week, a lot much less the following couple of months. Gerrit Cole has been up and down; he adopted two good begins (15 innings, one run) with back-to-back blah begins (10 1/3 innings, 10 earned runs). Andrew Heaney, the rotation commerce addition, has secondary numbers which can be higher than his less-than-stellar ERA with the (5.27), so there’s motive to hope he’ll be a lift. Although, his Yankees debut wasn’t precisely stellar — 4 solo house runs allowed in 4 innings. And Nestor Cortes Jr. has been a pleasant shock with an innings enhance. However the bullpen has been iffy, at greatest, recently and the one relievers they added weren’t precisely nice with their former groups: Clay Holmes had a 4.93 ERA with the Pirates and Joely Rodriguez had a 5.93 ERA with Texas. 

Blue Jays

Playoff place: 4 again of second wild card
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 31.5 %

Greatest concern: Fairly truthfully, the Jays’ greatest concern proper now could be that they gave different groups an enormous ol’ head begin earlier than they added to their bullpen and traded for Jose Berrios. As at the moment constructed, this is likely one of the 4 greatest groups within the AL, however they’ve obtained their work minimize out for them to really make the postseason. 

Wild-card leaders


Playoff place: second AL wild card, 3 up
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 50 %

Greatest concern: The A’s are one other workforce that did a superb job addressing wants on the commerce deadline, together with the deal for the play-everywhere Josh Harrison. Possibly, being choosy, they might love Matt Chapman to return to type. He’s an all-world defender, in fact, however after ending seventh and sixth, respectively, within the 2018-19 AL MVP voting with a mean 132 OPS+ and seven.8 bWAR, Chapman leads the league in strikeouts and has a 92 OPS+, to go along with a 2.1 bWAR. If he will get again to producing like an MVP candidate, that might be an enormous increase to the A’s. 


Playoff place: second NL wild card, 4 up
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 76.6 %

Greatest concern: It’s not that the wheels have fallen off, however the bolts are loosening everywhere in the roster. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack simply landed on the IL. Yu Darvish had a 7.36 ERA in 5 July begins and Blake Snell both seems good or fully misplaced on the mound: Significantly, have a look at the earned runs his previous six begins: 7, 0, 0, 4, 1, 7. And so they didn’t carry within the massive-impact man they had been hoping, similar to Max Scherzer to high the rotation or Joey Gallo to thump in the midst of the lineup. It’s a wierd time for a still-very-talented membership.

Crimson Sox

Playoff place: first AL wild card, 3 up
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 87.4 %

Greatest concern: The “can Kyle Schwarber play first base” query is legit, however that’s not the most important fear, for my part. Except for Nathan Eovaldi, the rotation is a group of 4 five-inning starters with ERAs north of 4.50, and that’s a tricky system to depend upon for 162 video games. 

Martin Perez: 4.56 ERA, 21 begins, 98 2/3 innings
Nick Pivetta: 4.57 ERA, 21 begins, 112 1/3 innings
Garrett Richards: 5.15 ERA, 20 begins, 101 1/3 innings
Eduardo Rodriguez: 5.60 ERA, 20 begins, 99 2/3 innings

Chris Sale is on his method again, and he’s regarded actually good in 4 rehab begins within the minors (1.76 ERA, 27 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings). If he returns to the bigs for the primary time since 2019 and appears something like his outdated self, that might go a great distance towards allaying the issues of Crimson Sox followers. 


Playoff place: first NL wild card, 7.5 up 
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 99.3 %

Greatest concern: Ask most any Dodgers fan, they usually’ll most likely admit the again of the bullpen scares them. The workforce caught with Kenley Jansen because the nearer this offseason, and he was nice via the primary couple of months of the season. However he hasn’t thrown a 1-2-3 inning since June 20 — spanning 12 appearances — and he owns an ERA of 18.00 for the reason that All-Star break, permitting eight runs, 11 hits and 6 walks in 4 innings over 5 appearances. It’s a bit disconcerting. 

MLB division leaders


Playoff place: first in NL East, 2.5 up
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 60.7 %

Greatest concern: Extra like points, plural. There are such a lot of questions. Proper now, Marcus Stroman appears like the one positive factor within the rotation, with Jacob deGrom out till September. Francisco Lindor’s on the IL shelf for some time, too. The offense has proven indicators and Javy Baez could possibly be the reply, however he’s just one individual. The bullpen has points, too. In the event that they performed in every other division in baseball, they’d be a minimum of seven video games out of first place. As an alternative, within the NL East, they’ve a 2.5-game lead.


Playoff place: first in AL East, 1 up
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 81.2 %

Greatest concern: The pitching feels prefer it could possibly be a difficulty, however the Rays at all times appear to have a secure of pitchers able to step up and show the doubters unsuitable. This 12 months, after buying and selling starter Wealthy Hill and nearer Diego Castilla after the All-Star break, just isn’t a lot completely different.


Playoff place: first in NL Central, 7.5 up
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 96.7 %

Greatest concern: Even with the addition of Rowdy Tellez and Eduardo Escobar, there are questions in regards to the Brewers’ offense. They want Christian Yelich to supply just like the Yelich of outdated — he has a .221 common and 107 OPS+ the previous two seasons, after producing a .327 common and 171 OPS+ in 2018-19 — they usually want Jackie Bradley Jr. to do one thing (something) on the plate. He’s batting .175 with a 46 OPS+.


Playoff place: first in AL West, 4.5 up
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 97.4 %

Greatest concern: It is truthfully arduous to search out any points right here. This can be a good workforce that addressed its lone sore-thumb weak point in an enormous method on the commerce deadline. The bullpen is nice. The rotation is nice and the lineup is nice.


Playoff place: first in NL West, 3.5 up
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 98.0 %

Greatest concern: Staying wholesome. Accidents are a actuality for each workforce, however the Giants appear particularly susceptible to stints on the IL with a roster filled with 30-somethings. Brandon Belt (Age 33 season) and Evan Longoria (35) are on the IL proper now, and starters Buster Posey (34), Brandon Crawford (34), Donovan Solano (33), Alex Dickerson (31), Mike Yastrzemski (30) have all frolicked on the IL. At full power, they’re an excellent workforce, they usually’ve finished an excellent job weathering the absences of their star gamers. Simply have a look at the standings. Buying and selling for the versatile Kris Bryant was a sensible transfer. However well being’s at all times going to be a query for this membership.

White Sox 

Playoff place: first within the AL Central, 8.5 up
FanGraphs’ playoff odds: 99.6 %

Greatest concern: The White Sox have just one regular-season objective, and that’s to complete with one of the best file within the AL to safe house area benefit. The division is wrapped up, and has been for a very long time. The Sox simply must get wholesome. Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert — two large bats — must be wholesome and productive for a lot of the final two months, however they’re not there simply but. Setbacks do occur. And Dallas Keuchel has struggled recently; in 5 July begins, he posted a 6.26 ERA and gave up 9 house runs in 27 1/3 innings. 


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