I suppose that’s not entirely true. Sale does have five wins against them, though none have come in 2017. While the Cy Young frontrunner has face-planted against Cleveland this year (14.63 ERA in two starts), he’s been a menace to the other 14 teams he’s faced (2.32 ERA in 24 starts). The Indians have been a long-time nemesis of Sale, who sports a lousy 4.78 ERA against them in 29 career appearances.
It’s no wonder why Sale would struggle against the Tribe. The Indians are familiar with Sale from his many years with the White Sox and let’s not forget that Cleveland was a hit or two away from winning the World Series last fall. The problem is that it’s a near certainty that Sale will go against Cleveland in the postseason, assuming the Red Sox are able to hold off the Yankees in the AL East (they currently hold a 3.5-game lead).
Cleveland ace Corey Kluber—who is coincidentally Sale’s stiffest competition in the AL Cy Young race—doesn’t have the greatest track record against the Red Sox (2-4, 4.45 ERA). But he did toss a gem against them last week (7 2/3 IP, 2 R, 12 Ks on August 23) and was even better when he faced them last October (7 IP, 0 R, 7 Ks in Game 2 of the ALDS). The Red Sox didn’t put up much of a fight in that series, falling flat in a three-game sweep. Maybe they’ll fare better this time around but in order for that to happen, Sale will need to conquer his kryptonite. Now for some Power Rankings …
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 1
Help is on the way in Los Angeles (not that the Dodgers need it). Cody Bellinger (ankle) is expected to return when first eligible on Wednesday while Clayton Kershaw will be activated from the DL on Friday. Justin Turner was an MVP candidate in the first half but has slumped to a .248 average since the break. The Dodgers dropped two of three to the Brewers over the weekend for their first series loss since early June.
2. Houston Astros
Last Week: 3
Dallas Keuchel has rebounded nicely since getting roughed up by the White Sox on August 8, going undefeated with a 1.31 ERA over his last three starts. First-time All-Star George Springer has fallen off a bit, hitting only .200 since coming back from a quad injury on August 9. Carlos Correa (thumb) has been rehabbing in the minor leagues and should return when rosters expand on Friday.
Editor’s Note: Win a FREE trip to the World Series plus cash prizes!
3. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 2
Tanner Roark has been on his game since the All-Star break, going 5-2 with a 3.31 ERA over eight second-half starts. Max Scherzer knocked ‘em dead in his return from the 10-day DL, logging seven innings of one-run ball in Monday’s win over Philadelphia. The Nationals got creative on Sunday by employing Edwin Jackson as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning. Did he get thrown out at home plate to end the game? You bet.
4. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 5
Edwin Encarnacion has been letting it rip. The man with the invisible parrot on his shoulder has already bombed nine homers in the month of August. Carlos Carrasco owned the Royals on Sunday, silencing KC over seven shutout frames. He’s fanned 23 hitters while issuing just two walks over his last three outings. The Indians are hitting their stride, but for them to repeat as AL Champs, they need Andrew Miller to get healthy ASAP.
5. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 4
Most Sox fans groan when they see Doug Fister’s name on the schedule but maybe they should give him a chance. The tall right-hander has been lights out over his last two starts, allowing just three runs and six hits across 16 stellar innings (1.69 ERA). What’s up with Mookie Betts? The two-time All-Star hasn’t looked like himself, hitting a mere .238 since July 1. It’s been 85 at-bats since his last home run.
6. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 6
Jake Arrieta keeps chasing those dollar signs. The contract-year right-hander has cruised to a magnificent 1.78 ERA over eight second-half starts and hasn’t lost a decision since August 2. With Scott Boras as his agent, the Cubs shouldn’t expect a hometown discount. Among NL sluggers, only Giancarlo Stanton has driven in more runs than Anthony Rizzo in the month of August (26).
7. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 9
Arizona will need to go the Wild Card route to make the postseason, but if they sneak into the Division Series, the D’Backs could be a force to be reckoned with. Their rotation is well-stocked with ace Zack Greinke, first-time All-Star Robbie Ray and scorching-hot left-hander Patrick Corbin (0.30 ERA during his four-start winning streak). J.D. Martinez has put on a clinic with five homers over his last eight games. Overall, he’s swatted 13 round-trippers in 121 at-bats since joining Arizona at the trade deadline.
8. New York Yankees
Last Week: 7
You probably saw the highlights from Thursday’s bloodbath at Comerica Park but if you didn’t, here’s my one-sentence recap: Miguel Cabrera and Austin Romine wrestled at home plate, the bullpens put on their jogging shoes and CC Sabathia couldn’t stop laughing. Over the last two years, Gary Sanchez has hit an incredible .342 with 22 homers and 45 RBI over 190 August at-bats. Meanwhile Aaron Hicks has struggled to a .167 average in 72 at-bats since coming back from a strained oblique.
9. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 8
Jon Gray has ice in his veins. The 25-year-old has ripped the league to shreds this month, delivering an insane 2.30 ERA over five starts in August. It helps that only two of those starts were at Coors Field, but still. The wheels are coming off for Greg Holland. He’s fallen apart since the All-Star break, contributing a hideous 10.13 ERA over 15 second-half appearances. It may be a while before he’s back in the closer role.
10. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 12
It’s been a truly horrific stretch for Eric Thames, who has managed just one hit in his last 17 at-bats. He’s struck out an embarrassing seven times during that span. But hey, at least Jimmy Nelson’s balling. The right-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning en route to his 10th win of the season Sunday versus the Dodgers. Keon Broxton is a steal away from joining the 20/20 club. The last Brewer to do that was Ryan Braun in 2015 (25 homers, 24 steals).
11. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 11
Parker Bridwell is a baaad man. He’s beasted over eight second-half starts, going 4-1 with a picturesque 2.66 ERA during that span. You’re not going to believe this guys, but Mike Trout is in a slump (gasp). Homeboy’s flopped to a .107 average with nine strikeouts over his last 28 at-bats. Albert Pujols’ .376 slugging percentage this year is his lowest since … well, ever.
12. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 13
Byron Buxton has played a mean center field all year but now his bat is finally catching up to his glove. He unloaded on the Blue Jays, pouring on four hits including three homers in Sunday’s onslaught. Don’t look now but Bartolo Colon has won four of his last five with a 3.21 over that span. Joe Mauer has also gotten into the act, impressing with a .464 average over his last 17 games. He’s boosted his season average from .268 to .296 during that stretch.
13. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 10
Carlos Martinez has brought the thunder over his last four starts, contributing a sensational 2.89 ERA to go with a perfect 3-0 record during that span. Tommy Pham delivered a knock-out punch to the Rays with his walk-off home run on Saturday. The 29-year-old has broken out in a big way this year, slashing .302/.398/.497 with 17 homers and the same number of steals.
14. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 15
Give the M’s some credit. They’re still in the Wild Card hunt despite missing three of their best starting pitchers (James Paxton, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma) for huge chunks of the season. They’ve also survived a dry spell from Jean Segura, who has slumped to a .133 average with 10 strikeouts over his last 45 at-bats. After Sunday’s debacle in New York, maybe someone should send the Mariners a copy of Tom Emanski’s Defensive Drills.
15. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 17
2017, the year Giancarlo Stanton crossed over from human to a higher species. He’s blasted a league-leading 50 homers with 24 of those coming since the All-Star break. Everything’s falling into place for Jose Urena. Even after losing Monday to the Nationals, the right-hander is still 3-2 with a 3.24 ERA over his last six starts. With over a month to play, catcher J.T. Realmuto has already set new career-highs in both home runs (16) and RBI (56).
16. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 18
The Orioles did work at Fenway Park last weekend, outscoring the Red Sox 25-4 during a three-game sweep. You never know what you’re going to get from Wade Miley, but the left-hander has really stepped up his game this month, compiling a superb 2.60 ERA over five August starts. You’re not imagining things—the surging Orioles are only 1.5 games out of the AL’s second Wild Card spot.
17. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 16
Refusing to swap home series with the Astros after Hurricane Harvey wasn’t a great look for the Rangers, but luckily the Rays were kind enough to offer up Tropicana Field for a three-game set this week. Old-man Adrian Beltre still has the goods. He’s hit a robust .381 with two homers and six RBI over his five-game hitting streak. Injury-prone right-hander Tyson Ross has been moved to the bullpen until further notice. Why, you may ask? Just look at his ERA (7.04 in 10 starts).
18. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 14
The Royals have lost their last four games by a combined score of 32-0. That’s no typo, folks—Kansas City hasn’t scored a run in its last 43 innings. It’s not going well for Jason Vargas either. The left-hander has lost four of his last five starts while posting a miserable 6.69 ERA since the All-Star break. Meanwhile Mike Moustakas is one homer shy of tying Steve Balboni’s team single-season record of 36 long balls. Of course, that would require the Royals to score a run, so who knows.
19. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 19
Look out, American League pitchers. Corey Dickerson has his groove back. The Rays’ lone All-Star representative has been hitting up a storm, batting an absurd .462 over his last seven games while lifting his season average from .282 to .291. Plenty of teams were interested in Alex Colome at the trade deadline but the Rays made the right call by standing pat. He leads the majors with 39 saves this year and sports a tidy 0.82 ERA for the month of August.
20. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 21
They say if you want the job done right, do it yourself. Gerrit Cole took that approach on Saturday, blanking the Reds over seven standout frames while providing the game’s only run on a solo shot off Luis Castillo. Josh Bell has been an RBI machine this month, plating 20 runs over 86 August at-bats. Andrew McCutchen is running on fumes right now. He’s looked lost over his last eight games, batting just .143 with no extra-base hits during that span.
21. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 20
The slide continues for Jose Bautista, who has hit an embarrassing .180 for the month of August including .133 over his last eight games. Luckily Justin Smoak has picked up the slack by slamming three homers over his last six contests. Marco Estrada’s win Saturday was only his second since June. The Blue Jays are still technically in the Wild Card race, but not really. While a 6.5-game deficit is not insurmountable, seven teams are ahead of them in that pursuit with only a month to play.
22. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 22
If you can believe it, Friday was Julio Teheran’s first home win since April 14. Rookie Lucas Sims has won two of his last three starts while contributing a 3.12 ERA. Ozzie Albies is as raw as they come but the 20-year-old has shown some positive signs over his last nine games, hitting a healthy .406 with four doubles and three triples during that span.
23. New York Mets
Last Week: 23
If you woke up this morning and thought to yourself, man I wonder how the Mets are doing these days, try this lineup on for size. In the last month the Mets have traded away Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed and Neil Walker while losing Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Zack Wheeler and probably David Wright to season-ending injuries. Also, well-liked manager Terry Collins is likely on his way out. For the glass half-full folks, closer Jeurys Familia is back (though he isn’t closing yet) while Matt Harvey will return from a two-month absence on Friday.
24. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 27
Kendall Graveman has put his best foot forward over his last three starts, winning two of them while logging an impressive 2.25 ERA. Power-hitting 23-year-old Matt Olson has also come to life, surging to a .429 average over his last seven games. Khris Davis, who is quickly closing in on Aaron Judge for the AL lead in home runs, has gone for extra bases on 22 of his 32 hits since the All-Star break (12 homers, nine doubles and a triple).
25. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 25
A wise man by the name of Elton John once said, “Saturday night’s all right for fighting.” Miggy couldn’t wait that long, so he threw down on Thursday. Victor Martinez, who apparently has beef with teammate Justin Verlander, is once again battling an irregular heartbeat while Michael Fulmer has limped to a 5.97 ERA during his six-start winless streak. Jose Iglesias isn’t the first name that comes to mind when you think of the league’s elite hitters, but he’s done his part by batting .375 over his last seven contests.
26. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 24
Jhoulys Chacin has been an assassin at home this year, going 7-3 with a fabulous 1.85 ERA over 14 starts. Unfortunately he’s been a disaster on the road, struggling to a brutal 6.96 ERA in 13 starts away from Petco Park. Dinelson Lamet has pitched like a boss in the second half, registering an impressive 2.63 ERA over his last seven starts. He’s limited opponents to a .203 average with 105 strikeouts in 316 at-bats this season.
27. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 26
Robert Stephenson flexed his fantasy muscles by fanning a career-high 11 hitters in Friday’s win over the Pirates. He’s been money over his last three starts, producing a sturdy 2.20 ERA with 18 punch-outs during that span. Scott Schebler missed time with a strained rotator cuff earlier this month but you wouldn’t know it by the way he’s been swinging the bat lately. He’s hit an astounding .370 with two homers in 27 at-bats since coming off the disabled list.
28. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 29
Lucas Giolito gave White Sox fans a glimpse of the future by hurling seven shutout frames in Sunday’s win over the Tigers. It was Giolito’s first win in six career starts. A disappointing year for Yoan Moncada (44 strikeouts in 101 major league at-bats) somehow got worse last week when he landed on the DL with a bruised shin. Meanwhile Avisail Garcia continues to be a bright spot for the Pale Hose. He’s lit it up in August (.431 AVG in 58 at-bats) and now ranks second in the AL in hitting behind perennial MVP candidate Jose Altuve.
29. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 28
The Giants who now trail the first-place Dodgers by an unheard of 40 games in the NL West, got destroyed by the Diamondbacks over the weekend, dropping three straight by a combined score of 17-4. Buster Posey has gone off the rails, managing just two hits in his last 18 at-bats while battling thumb inflammation. How is Matt Cain adjusting to his new role as a relief pitcher? Well if Sunday was any indication (2/3 IP, 5 H, 8 ER, 2 BB), not great.
30. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 30
Who does Rhys Hoskins think he is, Babe Ruth? The 24-year-old has taken the league by storm, stroking 11 homers in 68 at-bats since arriving in the big leagues. Jerad Eickhoff hasn’t suffered a defeat since June 7, a span of 12 starts without losing. That’s around the same time I dropped him in the Rotoworld Friends and Family League. Nice one, Jesse
Biggest Jump: Athletics3
Biggest Drop: Royals4