Only three more weeks left MLB The regular season and postseason tournaments are heating up. of Good Continue the path The Mets In the National League East and half of the game only White Sox They are only behind the three Guards in the American League Central. The AL wild card teams are separated from the pack Blue Jay, Rays And Sailors Despite heading into the playoffs, the three teams entered Wednesday in the loss column with first place in the first round — and home field advantage — tied. In the NL Wild Card Tournament, Brewers They have won five of the last six and will follow Fathers In two games. of Phyllis They’re 3 1/2 games up on Milwaukee (and they own the playoffs), but they still trail the Braves seven times, the Blue Jays twice and Astros Three times, so their program is not easy.

Playoff spots, home-field advantage and first-round byes are at stake. Here are some of the key players who will need to be involved in these tight contests to help their teams over the next 21 days.

Statistics are updated on Tuesday’s games.


NL East Tournament

Mets – 1B Pete Alonso

Alonso has been the Mets’ MVP all season, hitting .268/.344/.505 with 24 doubles, 34 home runs and an NL-leading 110 RBIs. However, in the last 30 days he has been relatively quiet. In order to win the NL East and claim a valuable first-round bye, the Mets will need Alonso to be as impactful as he has been over the last three weeks. Good news for New York: In the last seven games, Alonso has picked it up, hitting .345/.387/.586.

Brave – RF Ronald Coin Jr.

Acuna had a disappointing season coming back from ACL surgery a year ago, but thanks to rookie production Michael Harris II And Von Grissom, the pressure on Acuna eased. But as the Braves try to finish off the Mets for the division crown, they’ll need more from their superstar right fielder. Over the past 15 games, Acuna is hitting .258 with a .310 on-base percentage and just one home run. However, he stole three bases in his most attempted effort during that span. Acuna’s base-stealing ability will be a key help once the Braves run out of hitters.

Al central competition


Rookie Oscar Gonzalez hit .319/.396/.596 this month, but the Rangers need more offense. (Jay Biggerstaff/USA Today)

Guards – their lineup, top to bottom

He’s doing everything he can to lead the Cubs to an incredible AL Central title. Their team ERA over the last 30 days is 2.65, third best in baseball. However, their offense has struggled in that span, ranking 29th in scoring with just 3.25 runs per game. To catch the White Sox, the pitchers need their lineup to start producing. In the last 30 days, only Oscar Gonzalez (five home runs) and Jose Ramirez (four) hit more than two long balls. Cleveland hitters have been working the count and getting on base but haven’t been able to string hits together, which has been a problem of late, especially when not hitting for power. (The Rangers are tied for last in the MLB with 16 homers in the last 30 days.) In the process, the Rangers will want Ramirez and the two position-playing stars. Andres Jimenezto deliver at the plate, but they’ll also want to produce with their entire lineup, their best pitching and defense, to hold off the four-time White Sox.

White Sox – RHP Lucas Giolito

The White Sox are coming off strong offensively, thanks in part to their bats Eloy Jimenez And Elvis AndrewsCombined for 11 home runs and 33 RBIs in last 15 games. Their four hitters – Jimenez, Andrus, Joseph with him. And AJ Pollock – Have hit over .340 and posted a .390 OBP or higher in the last 15 days. However, the key for the White Sox during the stretch run may be Giolito, who has struggled to match up with his rotation mates this year. Giolito’s numbers are up since last season, especially after the All-Star break when he posted a 6.04 ERA and 1.638 WHIP in the second half. They want him to turn things around in his final start of the regular season.

AL wild-card tournament


Wander Franco was in IL from July 10th to September 9th. (Nick Turchiaro/USA Today)

Crew – Mitch Haninger and Jesse Winker

The Mariners lead the majors with a 2.42 team ERA over the past 30 days and are poised for the top AL wild card spot — and to end a 20-season game drought — if their lineup can rebound. Their wild-card competition, the Rays and Blue Jays, scored more runs than them last month, but the Mariners are coming off a 12-game losing streak and have outscored every AL team in that span. Julius Rodriguez And Eugenio Suarez They combined for 10 home runs and 15 RBI and carried at a 45 percent and 36 percent clip, respectively. However, those two will need help from Haninger and Winker if the Mariners are going to lock down home-field advantage in the first round. Over the past 15 days, Haninger is hitting .143 with three extra bases in 49 at-bats, while Winker is hitting .074 with one extra base hit in 27 at-bats.

Rays – INF Isaac Paredes and SS Wander Franco

The Rays rank 30th in the majors with just six home runs over the past 15 days, and although they have the pitching and defense to finish above the wild-card spots, they’ll need long balls to do so. With 18 homers, Paredes is second on the team behind him Randy ArrozarenaIn September, however, he did not hit one. During the stretch run, the Rays will need to get to the yard a few times. Meanwhile, Franco is finally back from the injured list and off to a good start, going 6-for-20 with three RBIs in his first six games back, but the Rays will need their 21-year-old sensation to fill his needs. 11-year, $182 million contract To best Navy and Blue Jays for home-field advantage in the wild-card round in the final weeks.

Blue Jays – RHP Jose Berrios

Berrios has been a major disappointment this season, posting a 5.07 ERA, 4.68 FIP and 1.376 WHIP — all the worst marks of his career since his rookie year in 2016 — after signing a seven-year, $131 million extension last November. However, he pitched better in his last five starts, allowing two runs or fewer in all but two. They want the Blue Jays to continue that march to finish with the best record among AL wild card teams and become a postseason threat. If the upper part of their rotation – Alec Manoah, Kevin Gausman, Ross Stripling And Berrios – to his potential, the Blue Jays can do real damage in the game. The key is Berrios, and even though he seems to be on the way, the Blue Jays need him to be consistently good the rest of the way.

NL wild-card tournament


Acquiring Josh Bell hasn’t cost the Padres anything yet. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today)

Phillies – RHP Serantony Dominguez

The Phillies got five saves and struggled in the bullpen’s absence as their top reliever returned from the IL. In the year Dominguez (right triceps tendinitis) was sidelined after he left on Aug. 17 but returned to action Sunday and has since gone two scoreless innings. From June 17 to August 17, Dominguez was dominant: 18 of 21 relief appearances without a goal, and nine of those saves were converted. On the season, Dominguez posted a 1.57 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. To secure their wild card spot and end their postseason drought, the Phillies will need Dominguez to perform at his best in the final innings.

Padres – 1B Josh Bell

The Padres need to get their bats going. They are 12th in the NL with 98 runs in the last 30 days and 12th in the last 15 days at 42. Manny Machado He led the way in all offensive categories including hits, extra-base hits, home runs, RBIs and OPS for more than a month. However, opposing teams will camp around Machado or walk him the rest of the week if he gets no help. Enter Josh Bell. When the Padres acquired Bell at the trade deadline b Citizens, slashing .301/.384/.493 with 24 doubles, triples, 14 home runs and 57 RBI in 103 games. But since the blockbuster John Soto trade, Bell hit .206/.320/.313 with just five doubles and three home runs in 131 at-bats. It’s time to shine for San Diego. Oh, and they need Soto — .120/.313/.180 in his last 15 games — to go as well.

Brewers – Christian Yelich, SS Willie Adams and DH Andrew McCutchen.

The Brewers will look to their veterans — especially Yelich, Adams and McCutchen — to carry them. Over the past 15 games, Yelich is hitting .298, Adams is hitting .246 and McCutchen is hitting .236. And they’re not getting much help. Rowdy Tellez (.204 in last 15 games) and Keston Hiura (.208). However, Yelich, Adames and McCutchen have done it before and they need to shine now to lift Milwaukee against the Padres or Phillies. If this veteran trio provides the run support, the Brewers have pitching and defense.

(Top photo of Ronald Acuna Jr.: Brett Davis / USA Today)



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