Starting Nine (Week of September 24th)
One week left and then we are on to the postseason. Let’s take a look at the Final Starting Nine of 2023 before we turn to our playoff predictions next week.
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Starting Nine (Week of September 24th)
#9. Texas Rangers 87-68 (+280/+700) - Just when it looked like the Rangers were done, they now are in the driver’s seat to win the AL West Division. They still have a three-game set with Seattle to wrap up the regular season but their offense is back and dangerous. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked
#8. Toronto Blue Jays 87-69 (+800/+1400) - A 7-3 run has the Blue Jays ahead of both Houston and Seattle in the AL Wildcard race. The Blue Jays could be a dangerous team in the playoffs with a solid lineup and deep bullpen. Last Week’s Rank: 9th
#7. Philadelphia Phillies 86-69 (+600/+1200) - Can the Phillies run it back again this season from a wildcard spot? They will have home-field advantage in round one. They will need Nola and Wheeler to get sharp by the time the playoffs roll around. Last Week’s Rank: 9th
#6 Minnesota Twins 83-73 (+700/+1600) - The Twins may be hitting their stride at the right time. They clinched their division this week and can set their rotation for the Wildcard round. Last Week’s Rank: 8th
#5. Tampa Bay Rays 95-62 (+450/+900) - The Rays will likely be in the wildcard round again this year. Last year, they bowed out quickly in Cleveland. This year, the Rays may have the offensive weapons to advance. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd
#4. Milwaukee Brewers 88-68 (+750/+1700) - The Brewers will be at home in the Wildcard round and few teams can match their top-three pitchers. If they can end the series early, they will be set up for the divisional round. Last Week’s Rank: 5th
#3. Los Angeles Dodgers 95-59 (+200/+400) - The Dodgers will get the bye and can rest up for the divisional round. They have the offense but do they have the starting pitching? Last Week’s Rank: 4th
#2. Baltimore Orioles 97-59 (+300/+700) - The Orioles are in prime position to clinch the division up by three in the loss column with six to play. The O’s will be an interesting playoff team without a true closer now and without a bonafide ace. They are relentless, however. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd
#1. Atlanta Braves 100-56 (+150/+310) - The Braves likely dodged a bullet with the index finger injury to starter Morton. This is baseball’s most complete lineup with a solid bullpen and depth in the rotation. They are also hungry to avenge last season’s far-too-early exit from the playoffs. Last Week’s Rank: 1st
AL/NL MVP Candidates:
The betting windows haven’t officially closed but the races are over.
Shohei Ohtani will claim his second AL MVP despite missing nearly the final month of the season with an injury. He batted over .300 for the first time this season while maintaining his power numbers and still provided the Angels with #1 starter stuff.
Over in the National League, after a brief scare from Mookie Betts, Ronald Acuna Jr. re-emerged to claim his throne and will win the NL MVP with relative ease. This is what happens when you are the cog of baseball’s best offense, play great defense, and finish the season with 40 home runs and over 70 steals.
AL/NL Cy Young Candidates
Gerrit Cole is your AL Cy Young winner barring a dominant week from Seattle’s Luis Castillo. Castillo pitches Monday night against the Astros and then likely against the Rangers this weekend. Two dominant starts could sway some voters but Cole will likely carry the award with better overall numbers.
Blake Snell will claim the NL Cy Young Award in what turned out to be a fairly disappointing field. Zac Gallen was far too inconsistent on the road and Justin Steele faded late to pave the way for Snell to walk away with this one. Snell has the NL’s best ERA and WAR and will now join a short list of pitchers to win the Cy Young Award in each league.
*All odds courtesy of Draftkings.com
By Mark Ruelle