Five biggest questions for final week of 2021 MLB season: Division races, 50-homer mark, more

By this time subsequent week, Main League Baseball can have concluded one more common season. In lots of respects, 2021 marked a return to normalcy for the league. Groups nonetheless needed to be aware of COVID-19 (and there have been nonetheless outbreaks, notably amongst groups with decrease vaccination charges), but the league managed to complete a 162-game schedule, full with an All-Star Sport and full crowds.

After all, there will probably be loads of time for reflection over the approaching months — particularly if this winter’s Collective Bargaining Settlement negotiations take a fallacious flip. For now, let’s welcome this last week of regular-season baseball by highlighting 5 storylines we’ll be monitoring between now and Sunday’s last out.

1. Who wins the NL East, West?

There are solely two divisions whose champion stays doubtful. Each, coincidentally, are within the Nationwide League.

Within the East, the Atlanta Braves are trying to carry on to a 2 1/2-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies, thereby securing their fourth consecutive division crown. The Braves can have an opportunity to get rid of the Phillies by their very own gadgets, as the 2 sides will meet in Atlanta for a three-game set starting on Tuesday. The Phillies haven’t gained the East — or made the playoffs — since 2011.

Out within the West, the San Francisco Giants are nursing their very own two-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 2 sides will not meet once more, which means the Dodgers will need assistance. The Giants are scheduled to play the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres; the Dodgers will meet the Padres and the Milwaukee Brewers. The Dodgers have gained the West each season since 2013.

2. Can the Yankees maintain on?

The American League lacks divisional drama, nevertheless it stays unclear who will characterize the league within the Wild Card Sport. The Yankees capped off a sweep of the rival Boston Red Sox on Sunday night time, leaving the Bronx Bombers a sport up within the standings and in good place to take one of many two wild-card slots.

The Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners proceed to loom, although, they usually might reap the benefits of favorable scheduling. The Pink Sox will play the lowly Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals, giving them a simple pathway to October. The Yankees, conversely, will face the Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays, giving them the hardest remaining street of the 4 related groups. 

As for the Blue Jays, they will get the Orioles to finish the season. The Mariners, for his or her half, will wrap up the 12 months with the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels.

Power of schedule would not at all times make the distinction, nevertheless it’s definitely a consideration in tight races like this one.

3. Will anybody hit 50 residence runs?

Spherical numbers are the very best numbers in baseball. Whereas 50 residence runs is not unparalleled — Pete Alonso launched that many in 2019, and Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge each cleared that mark in 2017 — it would not occur as continuously because it did through the Steroid Period. Certainly, the following 50-homer season will probably be simply the sixth since 2008.

Three batters have a practical probability at cracking 50 this season: Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (46), Royals catcher Salvador Perez (46), and Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani (45). Marcus Semien (43) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (41) are each over 40, nevertheless it appears extremely unlikely both hits the half-century mark.

Ought to Guerrero, Perez, and Ohtani every discover a technique to hit 50, it will mark the primary time since 2001 that no less than three hitters pulled off the feat. 

4. Who will get the No. 1 decide?

The drama of the ultimate week is not reserved for groups on the prime of the standings. Slightly, the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks are competing to complete with the worst document within the majors, thereby locking up the No. 1 decide in subsequent 12 months’s draft. They enter the ultimate week of the season with similar 50-106 information.

The Orioles would seem to have the harder slate — factor when seen by way of this context — as they will play the Pink Sox and the Blue Jays. Contemporary off a weekend collection in opposition to the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks will play the Giants and the Rockies to shut out the 12 months. 

Subsequent 12 months’s draft is shaping as much as be one. If the draft have been held tomorrow, Florida prep outfielder Elijah Inexperienced would possible be the No. 1 decide.

5. Which managers will probably be fired?

Not the whole lot is enjoyable and video games. Sadly, the tip of the common season implies that some people will lose their jobs, together with managers.

It appears extra possible than not the Yankees will retain Aaron Boone no matter how the following week performs out. That leaves Jayce Tingler (Padres) and Luis Rojas (Mets) as the 2 managers value maintaining a tally of. Each groups entered the spring with sky-high expectations, but neither will make the postseason. It most likely would not enhance both’s possibilities of retaining their jobs that the Padres are within the midst of overhauling different elements of their group, whereas the Mets are looking for one other new normal supervisor.

For extra on the new seat, CBS Sports’ Matt Snyder ranked the four managers most likely to lose their job. | 5 largest questions for last week of 2021 MLB season: Division races, 50-homer mark, extra


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