By Ben Verlander
FOX Sports MLB Analyst
The dog days of August are upon us, and the playoff picture is starting to take shape.
Some divisions are already pretty much locked up, but there are plenty of tight races around the league.
Let’s dive into this week’s MLB Top 10.
The Dodgers and Astros lead Ben’s MLB Power Rankings
Ben Verlander breaks down this week’s MLB Power Rankings, with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros and New York Mets staying on top of the list.
Watch “Flippin’ Bats with Ben Verlander” on YouTube, or subscribe on podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts.
10. Toronto Blue Jays
As a team, the Blue Jays are hitting .271 vs. the opposing team’s starters, which is tied for the best mark in the majors. They haven’t been firing on all cylinders offensively, though, and if they aren’t outscoring everyone, they probably aren’t going to win a lot of games with their rotation.
Toronto desperately needed a new starting pitcher at the trade deadline, and the organization didn’t get it done. So here they are, in the middle of August, struggling to hang on to a playoff spot.
9. San Diego Padres
It seemed like the Padres were going to take off and propel themselves into the playoffs after acquiring Juan Soto, but things haven’t exactly gone as planned.
The team made huge moves at the deadline, adding Soto, Josh Bell, Josh Hader and Brandon Drury, but San Diego is playing under .500 since the deadline. And the biggest blow of all came when it was announced that star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was suspended 80 games for a violation of the league’s Performance-Enhancing Drug Policy.
The Padres should still be good enough to get to the playoffs, but they must play better than they are right now.
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8. Philadelphia Phillies
Since making a managerial change, the Phillies are 41-22 (.651). They have also been fantastic since acquiring David Robertson and putting him into the closer role, which had been a big need for them.
Since the All-Star break, the Phillies are also tied for the best save percentage in baseball, at 87.5%.
7. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals addressed what they needed to at the trade deadline, and it has been working out nicely for them. They’ve won seven of their past 10 games, including a huge series over the weekend against their counterparts at the top of the NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Cardinals got better at the deadline, and the Brewers didn’t. Right now, that’s the difference in the division.
6. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners are an MLB-best 27-14 (.659) in one-run games this season. Their bullpen has been lights-out, and their rotation, led by Luis Castillo, is going to be a problem for opposing teams down the stretch.
I’m a big believer in this Mariners team. I think they can match up well with just about anyone come playoff time, thanks to the three guys at the top of the rotation: Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert and Castillo.
5. New York Yankees
The Yankees continue to scuffle and have been downright bad since the All-Star Game. They are certainly better than how they’ve been playing, but a regression to the mean was to be expected from this Yankees rotation.
This team will be fine, but the Yankees must play better than the stretch they’re on right now, winning just two of their past 11 games. Still, the Bronx Bombers will easily win the AL East.
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4. Atlanta Braves
The Braves are on a roll, having won six in a row heading into this week. They kick off a huge series against the Mets on Monday, and if they can’t figure out how to beat their division rivals, they might find the NL East out of reach.
Still, the Braves’ newcomers have been a huge blessing for them this season and are a big reason this team is headed for the playoffs, whether via winning the division or grabbing the top NL wild card.
3. New York Mets
The Mets are finally close to 100 percent, and the addition of Jacob deGrom has been the bright spot they were hoping for. The rotation has been masterful since his return, and the combination of Max Scherzer and deGrom has been unbeatable.
The Mets have all the makings of a World Series team, and it’s just a matter of how they will fare come October.
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Ben Verlander breaks down three reasons the New York Mets are a World Series-caliber team, beginning with Jacob deGrom’s and Max Scherzer’s dominance on the mound and ending with the best closer in baseball, Edwin Diaz.
2. Houston Astros
Owners of the best record in the American League, the Houston Astros are rolling along. Lance McCullers Jr. returned for the first time this season and was masterful in his debut, striking out five and not allowing a run over six innings.
The Astros don’t have a weakness: Their rotation is fantastic, their bullpen has had the best ERA in baseball for most of the season, their defense ranks in the top three, and their offense is top-10 in most categories. This team is a force to be reckoned with.
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1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers just had a 12-game winning streak come to an end Sunday. With every win by multiple runs, it was one of the most impressive winning streaks I’ve ever seen.
The Dodgers have been dominant in every sense of the word. That said, they got a big blow Monday, when it was announced that their ace, Walker Buehler, is set to undergo season-ending elbow surgery. But make no mistake: The Dodgers are the best team in the league right now.
Here’s to another great week of Major League Baseball!
Ben Verlander is an MLB Analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the “Flippin’ Bats” podcast. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick of the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years in the Tigers organization. Follow him on Twitter @BenVerlander.
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