The power trio — Red Sox, Yankees, Astros — will remain the power trio for yet another week, but the red-hot Athletics are now tied for first place in the American League West standings and threatening to jump into that mix.
In this week’s edition of the Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings, all of the top-five teams come from the American League, as the Cubs have fallen off a bit. But there are some big risers from the National League, including the Diamondbacks and Cardinals. It’s all laid out within …
1. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 1
Boston lost the final game of its three-game weekend series against the Rays on Sunday, with 25-year-old left-hander Jalen Beeks — whom the Red Sox traded to Tampa Bay on July 25 for Nathan Eovaldi — working four scoreless innings of relief to earn his second major league victory. Boston also lost Monday night’s series opener against the Indians as Rick Porcello surrendered five earned runs on six hits (three home runs) over seven innings. It’s the first time the Red Sox have lost consecutive games since July. They are 50 games over .500 with the best record and the best run differential (+215) in baseball, and they’re currently nine games up on the Yankees for first place in the American League East. The most important thing for this team right now will be getting Chris Sale (shoulder) back to full health.
2. New York Yankees
Last Week: 2
The Yankees have struggled somewhat in August — they’re just one game over .500 since the calendar flipped — but there were positive signs during the club’s three-game weekend sweep of the Blue Jays. Giancarlo Stanton homered on both Friday and Saturday and is batting .324/.407/.743 over his last 86 plate appearances. Luis Severino started Saturday’s game and looked much sharper, working five scoreless innings before giving up two runs in the sixth. He earned just his second victory since July 7. Gary Sanchez (groin) is due to begin a minor league rehab assignment this week and should be back on the active roster before September 1. Aaron Judge is further off, as he acknowledged to reporters on Sunday that he is still experiencing discomfort in his fractured right wrist. The Yanks appear to be headed for another AL Wild Card Game.
3. Houston Astros
Last Week: 3
The Astros have lost eight of their last 10 games and are currently tied with the Athletics for first place in the American League West standings. What’s going on here, you ask? Health is a big factor. Lance McCullers was diagnosed with a right forearm strain on August 10 and Houston will have to use a sixth starter for the first time this season on Tuesday night in Seattle. Carlos Correa missed all of July and part of August with a back injury. Jose Altuve has been out since July 26 with right knee discomfort, though it sounds like his return from the disabled list is imminent. George Springer just missed 10 days with a thumb sprain and was scratched from the starting lineup Monday night against the Mariners due to soreness in his left quad. A tougher schedule has played a role in this slide too, and things aren’t going to get any easier on that front.
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4. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 5
Oakland made a big statement last week, taking two of three from the Mariners and two of three from the Astros — the two teams they’re battling for supremacy in the American League West. The A’s then beat up on Bartolo Colon and the Rangers on Monday night, winning 9-0 to climb into a tie with Houston at the very top of the division standings. Mike Fiers started that game versus Texas and yielded just one hit and one walk over seven scoreless innings while striking out eight. The veteran right-hander holds a 1.47 ERA and 21/1 K/BB ratio in 18 1/3 innings (three starts) since the Athletics picked him up in a waiver trade from the Tigers on August 6. There’s some real magic around this A’s team, and they have an easier rest-of-season schedule than both the Astros and M’s. Circle that big August 27-29 series at Houston’s Minute Maid Park.
5. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 6
The Indians earned a 5-4 victory over the Red Sox on Monday night at Fenway Park, with Corey Kluber settling in after a shaky start to the evening to earn his 16th win of the season. Cleveland is now 14-4 in August and 18-6 dating back to July 25. But the health of All-Star right-hander Trevor Bauer hangs heavy over this club as it cruises to its third straight American League Central title. Bauer landed on the disabled list last Tuesday after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right fibula, and Indians manager Terry Francona acknowledged a couple days later that it will be at least 4-6 weeks before the 27-year-old is ready for game action. That means there is a likelihood Bauer has to miss the remainder of the regular season and will head into the postseason as a big question mark for the Tribe.
6. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 4
The Cubs scored just four total runs in their four-game weekend series against the Pirates, but still managed to win two of those games. Jon Lester started Thursday’s series opener at PNC Park and tallied eight strikeouts over six scoreless innings in his best outing since late June. Chicago needs more ace-like performances from Lester going forward, as Yu Darvish suffered yet another setback in a rehab start Sunday at Low-A South Bend, exiting after one inning with discomfort in his right elbow. Darvish, who was signed to a six-year, $126 million contract over the winter, has made only eight starts at the major league level this season, to the tune of a 4.95 ERA. The Cubs are also still without star third baseman Kris Bryant, who has logged just 40 at-bats since June 22 due to a lingering left shoulder injury.
7. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 7
Seattle went 2-4 last week against the Athletics and Dodgers before managing a 7-4 win over the Astros in Monday night’s series opener at Safeco Field. Robinson Cano was the star of that victory, hitting two doubles and a go-ahead three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning. It was Cano’s first home run since he returned from his 80-game performance-enhancing drug suspension on August 14. The 35-year-old will not be eligible for the postseason, but he can help the Mariners get there. This team is currently 3 1/2 games back of the Astros and A’s for first place in the American League West standings and faces the same uphill battle in the American League Wild Card race. It sounds like James Paxton (forearm) is on track to return to Seattle’s starting rotation around the end of August.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 11
The Diamondbacks took three of four from the Padres this weekend to remain atop the National League West standings. David Peralta went 2-for-5 with a solo homer in Sunday’s 4-3 victory at San Diego’s Petco Park and is now batting .393/.448/.820 with seven home runs in 15 games this month. Paul Goldschmidt finished 4-for-4 with four RBI on Saturday and is slashing .356/.454/.663 over his last 315 plate appearances dating back to June 2. Nick Ahmed has been a surprise offensive contributor for Arizona this season, with a career-high 16 home runs, 57 RBI, and .448 slugging percentage through 117 games played. The 28-year-old shortstop also currently ranks tied for second among all major leaguers in defensive runs saved.
9. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 8
Atlanta suffered a four-game weekend sweep at the hands of the Rockies before rebounding for a 1-0 victory over the Pirates in Monday night’s series opener at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. 20-year-old right-hander Bryse Wilson made his major league debut in that one and worked five scoreless innings to earn the win, scattering three hits and three walks. The Braves have now had three 20-year-old pitchers win their MLB debuts this season: Wilson, Kolby Allard, and Mike Soroka. Oh, and Ronald Acuna is 20 years old too. The rookie outfielder just won National League Player of the Week honors and is batting .289/.351/.563 with 19 home runs, 19 doubles, 43 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and 53 runs scored over his first 73 major league games. Again, the future is now for this team.
10. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 9
The Brewers lost the first two games of their three-game weekend series in St. Louis before rallying for a 2-1 victory on Sunday afternoon and taking Monday night’s series opener against the Reds by a score of 5-2. These are the first consecutive victories for Milwaukee in more than two weeks. Jhoulys Chacin again looked sharp Sunday against the Cardinals, delivering six scoreless innings while moving to 13-4 on the season with a 3.58 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, but it’s still confusing that this team didn’t try harder to make a rotation upgrade at the July 31 trade deadline. Jonathan Schoop, the Brewers’ big deadline-day acquisition from the Orioles, is batting just .157 with a .385 OPS and zero home runs in 51 at-bats since changing teams.
11. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 14
The Cardinals had their season-high eight-game winning streak snapped by the Nationals last Thursday, but they went on to take two of three from the Brewers over the weekend and then beat the Dodgers in Monday night’s series opener in Los Angeles. St. Louis has won seven straight series and is 22-11 since replacing former manager Mike Matheny with interim skipper Mike Shildt on the night of July 14. Shildt is well on his way to having that interim tag removed. Matt Carpenter has slashed .310/.422/.693 in 348 plate appearances since May 26 and might suddenly be the favorite for National League MVP. The 32-year-old leads all NL hitters in home runs (34), slugging percentage (.582), and OPS (.969). Entering play Tuesday, the Cardinals are just 3 1/2 games back of the Cubs for first place in the National League Central.
12. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 12
The Rockies just pulled off an impressive four-game series sweep of the Braves at SunTrust Park in Atlanta and have now won eight of their last nine games — all against contending teams. They’re just a half-game back of the Diamondbacks for first place in the National League West standings and they’ll begin play Tuesday with a claim on one of the National League Wild Card spots. Nolan Arenado had a small scare with his right shoulder last week, but he is 9-for-26 (.346) since returning to the Rockies’ starting lineup on August 14 and he tallied his 30th home run of the season during that stretch. The star third baseman now has four straight 30-homer campaigns, though he is probably going to fall short of 130 RBI for the first time since 2014.
13. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 10
The Dodgers took two of three from the Mariners over the weekend, including a 12-1 rout on Sunday in which Clayton Kershaw notched his 150th career victory. But they fell 5-3 to the Cardinals in Monday night’s series opener, as the bullpen continued its season-long struggles. Kenley Jansen entered in the top of the ninth inning with game tied 3-3 for his first appearance since experiencing a recurrence of heart issues in early August and promptly gave up back-to-back home runs to Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter. It was the first time Jansen had allowed two home runs in a single appearance since 2013. Los Angeles probably should have made a bigger push for bullpen upgrades at the July 31 trade deadline. The team’s one relief acquisition, John Axford, suffered a fractured right fibula on August 12.
14. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 13
The Phillies just lost three of five to the lowly Mets and were outscored 41-20 in that five-game series, including a 24-4 bludgeoning in the first half of a doubleheader on Thursday. Philly is now 5-8 versus the Mets this season, and 63-48 against everybody else. And yet the Phillies haven’t lost any significant ground to the NL East-leading Braves, who were swept in a four-game weekend series by the Rockies before rebounding to beat the Pirates on Monday night at PNC Park. Atlanta has just a one-game cushion on Philadelphia entering play Tuesday. Aaron Nola continued to pad his NL Cy Young Award portfolio on Friday versus New York, striking out 11 batters over seven innings of one-run ball in a 4-2 victory. He stands 14-3 with a 2.24 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 25 starts this season.
15. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 18
Diego Castillo, Jalen Beeks, Chaz Roe, Jose Alvarado, and Sergio Romo combined on a two-hit shutout of the Red Sox in Sunday’s series finale at Fenway Park, a 2-0 victory for Tampa Bay. And then Hunter Wood, Ryan Yarbrough, Ryne Stanek, and Alvarado combined on nine scoreless innings in Monday night’s 1-0 defeat of the Royals. Whatever you think of the Rays’ extreme bullpenning, they currently rank eighth among all major league teams in runs allowed. Blake Snell, one of the only traditional starting pitchers remaining in Tampa Bay, will take the mound Tuesday night in Kansas City and try to build on his fantastic 2018 season. The 25-year-old left-hander currently holds a 2.10 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 149 strikeouts in 133 innings.
16. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 15
Pittsburgh has lost six of eight to fall 9 1/2 games back of the Cubs in the National League Central standings and six games out of the crowded hunt for the second National League Wild Card spot. Chris Archer, acquired from the Rays at the July 31 trade deadline for Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and a player to be named later, has posted an underwhelming 4.91 ERA in 18 1/3 innings with the Pirates and he left his last start Monday night against the Braves with discomfort in his left leg. That player to be named later was revealed last week to be 19-year-old right-hander Shane Baz, the 12th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. Baz entered the 2018 season as a consensus top-100 prospect.
17. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 16
It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this year for the Nationals, who are 10-10 since deciding neither to buy nor sell at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They lost three of four last week against the Cardinals and two of three over the weekend versus the Marlins, including an embarrassing 12-1 defeat on Sunday in which Miami right-hander Jose Urena delivered his first career complete game. Washington is currently 7 1/2 games back of the Braves in the National League East standings and 6 1/2 games out of the crowded National League Wild Card race. With reports indicating the Nats have place a number of players on revocable trade waivers, including Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy, perhaps we’ll see some form of an August sell-off.
18. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 17
The Giants lost the final game of their three-game series last week against the rival Dodgers and were then swept in a three-game weekend series at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park. They beat the Mets in 13 innings on Monday night, but the writing is on the wall in San Francisco. The Giants are currently 7 1/2 games back of the Diamondbacks for first place in the National League West standings and they are seven games behind the Phillies, Rockies, and Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot. Andrew McCutchen has been placed on revocable trade waivers and it sounds like he could be moved to a new team before the end of the week. The 31-year-old impending free agent outfielder was acquired from the Pirates in January for a pair of prospects and international spending money.
19. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 19
The Angels opened last week with a three-game sweep of the Padres before dropping three of four to the last-place Rangers. Mike Trout’s ongoing absence has dashed any hope of a late-season resurgence for this club. Trout landed on the disabled list August 6 with lingering inflammation his left wrist and he was excused from the team last Wednesday after his brother-in-law, former minor league pitcher Aaron Cox, passed away suddenly at age 24. Trout is not expected back until the beginning of the Angels’ next homestand Friday against the Astros. The 27-year-old superstar is batting .309/.459/.624 this season with 30 home runs, 60 RBI, 21 stolen bases, and 82 runs scored, but he hasn’t appeared in a game since August 1.
20. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 20
Ervin Santana was maybe going to be an August waiver trade candidate, but he has posted an 8.03 ERA in five starts since finally returning July 25 from offseason surgery on his right middle finger and the Twins placed him back on the disabled list Sunday with recurring symptoms related to the original injury in his metacarpophalangeal joint. It’s unclear whether the 35-year-old right-hander will be able to return this season. Either way, Minnesota is sure to decline his $14 million club option for 2019. 24-year-old left-hander Stephen Gonsalves struggled in his major league debut Monday night against the White Sox, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks before getting pulled with one out in the top of the second inning. He had a 2.76 ERA in 120 2/3 innings this season between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester.
21. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 21
The Blue Jays beat the Orioles on Monday night to snap a four-game losing streak. They were swept in a three-game weekend series at Yankee Stadium and got outscored 28-13 in those three games. Sean Reid-Foley surrendered eight runs — six earned — over just 4 1/3 innings in Saturday’s 11-6 loss in New York, leaving him with a 10.61 ERA through his first two major league starts. The 22-year-old right-hander was called up from Triple-A Buffalo on August 13 after posting a promising 2.98 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 146 strikeouts across 126 2/3 innings in the upper minors, but he has already been sent back down. Josh Donaldson (calf) is expected to begin a rehab assignment this week and could be traded through waivers before the August 31 deadline.
22. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 22
The Reds swept a three-game weekend series from the Giants before falling 5-2 to the Brewers on Monday night at Miller Park. Homer Bailey started for the Reds in that loss to Milwaukee and gave up three earned runs on eight hits over six innings. Cincinnati is now 1-16 in games started by Bailey this season, and the 32-year-old right-hander has an atrocious 6.36 ERA in 205 1/3 innings since the beginning of the 2016 campaign. He is owed $23 million next season and carries a $25 million club option (or $5 million buyout) for 2020. Joey Votto was hit in the lower right leg by a pitch back on August 4 and finally landed on the disabled list last week with lingering leg discomfort. The 34-year-old first baseman is sitting on an .842 OPS, which would be the second-lowest OPS of his 12-year major league career.
23. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 24
The Rangers had been on a roll offensively before running into the red-hot Athletics on Monday night and getting blanked 9-0. Bartolo Colon started the game and was lit up for seven earned runs on 10 hits over just five innings as he fell to 7-11 on the year and watched his season ERA climb to 5.45. Texas ranks fifth among all major league teams in runs scored, behind only the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, and Astros, but this team is 28th in both runs allowed and combined ERA (4.97). Cole Hamels has been brilliant since the Rangers traded him to the Cubs on July 27, delivering a 0.72 ERA and 23/6 K/BB ratio in four starts covering 25 innings for the current leaders of the NL Central. That has to come as a shock to the Texas front office, as the 34-year-old left-hander had a 10.23 ERA over his final five starts (22 innings) in a Rangers uniform.
24. New York Mets
Last Week: 25
New York just took three of five from the division-rival Phillies and set a franchise record for runs scored in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader, a 24-4 victory. But the Mets found a new way to lose in Monday night’s series opener against the Giants, as what should have been an inning-ending pop-up from Brandon Crawford in the top of the 13th dropped to the ground after Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario collided in short left field, allowing Andrew McCutchen to score the go-ahead run for San Francisco. The Mets are well on their way to the worst finish to a season for a team that started 11-1 or better. Will they consider trading Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom this winter? Syndergaard (3.40 ERA in 100 2/3 innings this season) is under contract through 2021. DeGrom (1.71 ERA in 168 innings) is under control through 2020.
25. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 23
The Tigers have lost five of their last six games and are now 5-12 this month, with their overall run differential for the season falling to -105. There are probably some August trades coming in Detroit, as Francisco Liriano, Jose Iglesias, and Jordan Zimmermann have all cleared revocable waivers. Zimmermann is likely unmovable because he is owed around $55 million on a contract that runs through 2020, but the other two could be of interest to contending teams. Liriano got lit up in his last start August 16 against the Twins and owns a rough 4.72 ERA in 97 1/3 innings this season, but the impending free agent southpaw has held left-handed batters to a .141/.247/.239 slash line. Iglesias has batted just .265/.309/.389 this season, but he’s an elite defensive infielder and shouldn’t cost much as a rental.
26. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 26
The Marlins put a nail — maybe the final nail? — in the Nationals’ coffin over the weekend, winning the final two games of their three-game set in Washington. Major League Baseball hit Jose Urena with a six-game suspension for throwing at Ronald Acuna last Wednesday, but he appealed that ruling and delivered his first career complete game on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park. Urena, who’s still awaiting an appeal hearing, is now 4-12 on the season with a 4.50 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 108/39 K/BB ratio in 138 innings. Miami will continue to try to play spoiler down the stretch, as six of the team’s final 12 series will be against clubs that currently have winning records. The Marlins also have two more series with the Nats, who are 62-63.
27. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 27
The Padres have lost six of their last seven games. They are 15-40 since June 16 and have fallen to a season-high 29 games under .500. But one big positive from the last week was the Padres ranking No. 1 in Baseball America’s updated organizational talent rankings, even though the club elected not to flip Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen for prospects at the July 31 trade deadline. The future should be bright in San Diego. Another positive: Wil Myers has looked pretty great at third base since moving to the position upon his return from the disabled list on August 13. That will allow more outfield exposure for Franchy Cordero, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes, and Travis Jankowski as the Friars map out their plans for what should be an active offseason.
28. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 28
The White Sox have won five of their last six games, all against fellow teams languishing behind the Indians in the American League Central standings — the Tigers, Royals, and Twins. The improved play is due in part to the reemergence of Jose Abreu, who was headed for the worst statistical year of his career just a couple of weeks ago. The 31-year-old first baseman is batting .350/.400/.699 with nine home runs, nine doubles, and 26 RBI over his last 26 games. Another thing to get excited about on the South Side of Chicago is the arrival of top pitching prospect Michael Kopech, who will make his major league debut on Tuesday night against the Twins. Top outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez should be up soon too.
29. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 29
The Orioles are 5-14 over their last 19 games and are comically now 50 1/2 games back of the Red Sox in the American League East standings. One positive in Baltimore is the recent turnaround of Alex Cobb, who pitched his first complete game in five years Saturday to beat the Indians. Cobb, who was signed to a four-year, $57 million free agent contract over the winter, put up a brutal 7.14 ERA in his first 12 starts in an Orioles uniform. But over his last 11 outings dating back to June 22, he boasts a 3.23 ERA. And he’s been especially good in August, with a 1.55 ERA in 29 frames. The 30-year-old right-hander might have some trade value this offseason as the O’s continue their aggressive organizational rebuild.
30. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 30
The Royals have the worst run differential in baseball at -218, but they’re a game back of the Orioles for the worst record in MLB and the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2019. That might be something to watch down the stretch. Jorge Lopez, part of the Royals’ return from the Brewers for Mike Moustakas, got roughed up for six earned runs over just 4 2/3 innings in his Kansas City debut last Wednesday, a 6-5 loss. He looked much sharper in his second start Monday night against the Rays, working five innings of one-run ball, but the Royals gave him zero runs of support in a 1-0 defeat. The other piece in that Moustakas trade package, 24-year-old outfielder Brett Phillips, is batting just .203/.276/.342 in 87 plate appearances this season between Milwaukee and KC.