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Sethu Vijayakumar
September has arrived and there are now just four weeks remaining in the 2018 MLB regular season.There are 15 teams still clinging to some form of contention鈥攕even in the American League and eight in the National League.The AL West Curtis Granderson Jersey , NL East, NL Central and NL West are all still up for grabs with division leads of five games or less, and the NL West, in particular, is shaping up to be an all-out war with three teams separated by just one game.For now, just remember these rankings are fluid. Teams rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing鈥攊t's as simple as that.Here's where all 30 teams stand:Updated Rankings1 Boston Red Sox (94-44)2 New York Yankees (86-51)3 Houston Astros (84-53)14 Chicago Cubs (81-55)15 Oakland Athletics (82-56)26 St. Louis Cardinals (76-61)7 Atlanta Braves (76-60)8 Tampa Bay Rays (73-63)29 Cleveland Indians (77-59)110 Colorado Rockies (74-62)111 Los Angeles Dodgers (75-62)312 Milwaukee Brewers (77-61)113 Seattle Mariners (76-61)214 Arizona Diamondbacks (74-63)215 Philadelphia Phillies (72-64)16 San Francisco Giants (68-70)17 Washington Nationals (68-69)18 Los Angeles Angels (66-71)119 Pittsburgh Pirates (66-71)120 Toronto Blue Jays (62-74)21 New York Mets (61-75)22 Texas Rangers (60-77)123 Minnesota Twins (63-73)124 Chicago White Sox (55-82)25 Cincinnati Reds (59-78)26 San Diego Padres (54-85)127 Miami Marlins (54-83)128 Kansas City Royals (45-91)129 Detroit Tigers (55-82)130 Baltimore Orioles (40-97) Teams That ImpressedBlake SnellJulie Jacobson/Associated PressIt's getting harder and harder to ignore what theTampa Bay Raysare doing.While they still have just a 0.4 percent chance of reaching the postseason, according to FanGraphs, there's not a hotter team in baseball right now.With a series win against the Cleveland Indians over the weekend, the Rays have now gone 10-2 in their last 12 games, posting a plus-27 run differential during that span.Ace Blake Snell just finished a brilliant August that saw him go 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA, 0.65 WHIP and a .131 opponents' batting average in five starts. The 25-year-old is now 17-5 with a 2.02 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 177 strikeouts in 151.2 innings, and with Chris Sale on the shelf, he's become the AL Cy Young front-runner.TheChicago Cubsalso kept things rolling last week with series wins over the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, as well as a victory over the Atlanta Braves in a makeup game.That makes 10 straight series that the Cubs have at least split, with their last series loss coming against the rival St. Louis Cardinals at the end of July. That consistency has helped the North Siders maintain a five-game lead in the NL Central standings.TheLos Angeles Dodgers(5-1) andMilwaukee Brewers(4-2) also won both of their series last week, as the Dodgers moved back into first place in the NL West, and the Brewers would play host to the NL Wild Card Game if the season ended today.TheChicago White Sox(4-3) andSan Diego Padres(4-2) both did well in the role of spoiler last week, turning in series wins over the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners http://www.bluejaysfanproshop.com/authentic-jaime-garcia-jersey , respectively.And all the way at the bottom of the rankings, theKansas City Royalswent 5-0 with sweeps of the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles.Teams That DisappointedThearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesThree contenders saw their playoff chances take a hit last week: theSeattle Mariners(2-4),Arizona Diamondbacks(2-5)andPhiladelphia Phillies(2-4).Here's a look at how their odds shifted in the past week, via FanGraphs:SEA: 14.9 percent to 6.8 percentARI:54.2 percent to 31.7 percentPHI:44.7 percent to 34.7 percentThose are fairly precipitous shifts for all three teams in the timeframe of just a week, and that goes to show how detrimental one bad week can be when you're trying to chase down a wild-card spot.The Mariners (12-16, -40 RD) and Phillies (13-14, -19 RD) both suffered through rough months in August and might be cooked unless they can turn things around quickly. On the other hand, the Diamondbacks (14-12, +19 RD) played well last month and are hoping this is just a temporary bump in the road.ThePittsburgh Pirates(2-4),Minnesota Twins(2-4) andMiami Marlins(1-4) were the only other teams to lose both of their series last week.MVPs of the WeekHitter:Christian Yelich, Milwaukee BrewersStats:12-for-27, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 7 R, 2 SBIt took the Milwaukee Brewers three of their top prospects to acquire Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins during the offseason, but he's been well worth that acquisition cost.The 26-year-old is hitting .316/.381/.559 with a career-high 27 home runs, 81 RBI, 96 runs scored and 16 stolen bases for a team in the thick of the playoff hunt.His standout performance last week was highlighted by a six-hit game against the Cincinnati Reds in a 13-12 victory on Wednesday.On his way to six hits Yangervis Solarte Jersey , he became the second player this season to hit for the cycle, joining Red Sox star Mookie Betts."You'll go through stretches when you're really hot and stretches when you struggle a little bit," Yelich told reporters. "You try to key in on what you do well when you're going well and what happens when you go bad. ... It's easy to say, but it's really hard over the course of a year to do that."It was the 321st cycle in MLB history, the eighth in Brewers history and the first by a Milwaukee player since backup catcher George Kottaras accomplished the feat on Sept. 3, 2011. Pitcher:Clay Buchholz, Arizona DiamondbacksStats:2 GS, 2 ND, 12.0 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 7 KWhere would the Arizona Diamondbacks be without Clay Buchholz?The scrapheap pickup has gone 7-2 with a 2.05 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 15 starts this season after joining the D-backs on a minor league deal in May after he was released by the Kansas City Royals.That performance has given the Arizona rotation a big boost in the wake of losing Taijuan Walker for the season to Tommy John surgery.The 34-year-old Buchholz made just two starts for the Philadelphia Phillies last season, and he really hasn't pitched at a high level consistently since he opened the 2013 season at 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA before missing time to injury.His out-of-nowhere resurgence will make him one of the more compelling cases of the upcoming free-agent class.After throwing seven scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants last Tuesday and then five innings of one-run ball against the Dodgers on Sunday, he'll look to keep things rolling on with his next scheduled start coming Saturday against the Atlanta Braves.Video Highlights of the WeekLongest Home Run: Michael Conforto, New York Mets (472 feet)Not only did Michael Conforto launch the longest home run of the week, but he also hit the longest home run by a Mets player since Statcast began tracking in 2015.MLB.com noted: "Conforto got all of one against the Cubs'Jon Lester鈥攃rushing a 109.8 mph, 472-foot home run way, way out to dead center at Wrigley Field. With that sweet left-handed swing, Conforto surpassed fellow Mets sluggerYoenis Cespedesfor the team's longest home run since Statcast began tracking鈥攁 mark Cespedes had set earlier in the season with a 463-foot homer on April 24."It's been an up-and-down season for the 25-year-old http://www.bluejaysfanproshop.com/authentic-randal-grichuk-jersey , who entered the season with lofty expectations after posting a 148 OPS+ with 27 home runs in 440 plate appearances last year.While he's hitting just .232/.344/.407, he does have 20 home runs, and he remains one of the most promising young players on a Mets team that is likely headed for some roster overhaul during the offseason. Best Defensive Play:Albert Almora Jr., Chicago CubsThis is not the first time Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. has delivered the defensive play of the week, and there's a good chance it won't be the last.The 24-year-old has turned in highlight-reel plays time and again this season, and he has a strong case for winning his first career Gold Glove once it comes time to hand out awards.For statistically minded people, his6 DRS and 4.3 UZR/150paint him as an above-average defender with plus range.For those who still trust more in the eye test when it comes to defensive contributions, Almora passes that one with flying colors.The play above is the perfect example, as he shows off the excellent range and exceptional concentration needed to pull in a ball that looked like a sure double in the gap off the bat of Lucas Duda.Must-See Upcoming MatchupHouston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox (Friday-Sunday)Justin VerlanderJason O. Watson/Getty ImagesThere's a good chance we'll be watching a preview of the ALCS this weekend at Fenway Park.With the best record and baseball and a 110-win pace, the Red Sox have been perched atop our power rankings for a number weeks.They'll welcome to town the World Series champion Astros, who won a big series against the upstart Oakland Athletics last week.Both teams rank among the MLB leaders in both offensive and pitching categories:OPS: BOS (.794, first); HOU (.759, fifth)R/G: BOS (5.4, first); HOU (4.9, fourth)ERA: HOU (3.13, first); BOS (3.62, fourth)WHIP: HOU (1.09, first); BOS (1.23, eighth)That's the type of balance it takes to win a title, and both teams have their sights set on just that.The two teams split a four-game set in their only prior meeting this season at the end of May Jose Bautista Jersey , with the Red Sox outscoring the Astros by the narrowest of margins (19-18) in that series.Expect another battle this weekend.All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty ImagesThe Toronto Blue Jays traded veteran reliever John Axford to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor league right-handerCorey Copping, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Tuesday.Axford has appeared in45 games this season and owns a 4.41 ERA and a 4.02 FIP, per Baseball Reference.With their playoff hopes all but extinguished, the Blue Jays have significantly reshaped their bullpen over the last two days and cashed in on their best trade assets.TorontoconfirmedMonday it dealt Roberto Osuna to the Houston Astros for Ken Giles, Hector Perez and David Paulino. On Tuesday, the teamannouncedit traded Aaron Loup to the Philadelphia Phillies for minor league pitcherJacob Waguespack.Axford is a free agent at the end of the year, so the Blue Jays had little reason to keep him past Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline.The 24-year-old Copping has split his time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2018. He's 4-0 with three saves and a 2.52 ERA in 35 relief appearances.The Athletic's Andrew Stoeten sees potential in Copping but acknowledged the 2015 31st-round pick is far from a blue-chip prospect:Andrew Stoeten AndrewStoetenCopping is 24, a RHP just moved up to AAA. A reliever, his walk numbers are high, but he managed 55 Ks in 46.1 IP at AA this year, which was a big improvement on his first turn there in 17 (60 K in 68 IP). Generally tidy ERAs, but nothing super special. ZLA7wA1ayeThe Dodgers, meanwhile, add another experienced arm to their bullpen.Although Kenley Jansen is one of MLB's elite closers, Dodgers relievers are collectively 12th in FIP (3.93), according toFanGraphs.Axford has rebounded nicely from a 2017 campaign in which he finished with a6.43 ERA and 5.73 FIP. Manager Dave Roberts can lean on him in a middle-relief role as a setup man before bringing on Jansen in the ninth inning.
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