Nearing the Finish Line of the MLB Wild Card Race
As we start to close the books on the 2021 MLB regular season, the exciting epilogue of the postseason begins. Though the division leaders so far have been all but locked up, a vicious Wild Card race is still in the works, with the remaining contestants in the American League being Boston Red Sox, NY Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, and Oakland A’s, while the National League has the LA Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, and Cincinnati Reds in contention.
To start with the NL Wild Card race, the Dodgers have clinched, but are still competing with the SF Giants for the top spot in the division. Though losing rotation ace Trevor Bauer to legal issues, trading for Max Scherzer has worked out wonderfully for LA. St. Louis, while seeing decreased production from offseason acquisition Nolan Arenado, has somehow kept themselves in the second WC spot with a strong rotation and a renaissance of Jon Lester. The Phillies (5.0 Games Behind) and Reds (6.0 GB) have mostly been carried to their fringe WC contention by the bats of their respective stars, Bryce Harper and Joey Votto, but with the season winding down, it may be too late.
As for the AL race, despite a midseason skid from key contributors, the Red Sox have righted their ship for the WC, thanks to breakout performances by Dalbec, Renfroe, Verdugo, and return of rotation ace Chris Sale. The Yankees, despite a consistent lack of production from the infield, have made up for it via a top 5 starting rotation and power bats in Judge and Stanton. The Jays, despite boasting incredible hitting power from Guererro Jr., Semien, and Bichette, have stumbled to 2.0 GB in the race with rotation inconsistencies. Despite promising seasons from Mitch Haniger of the Mariners and Matt Olsen of the As, neither team has been able to compete with the rest of the AL, leading to the Mariners being 3.0 GB and the A’s 4.0 GB from the Wild Card with about a week left.
As of September 29th, the Boston Red Sox would be going to New York to face the Yankees for the AL Wild Card game on October 5th, with the Dodgers hosting the St. Louis Cardinals the following day.