Thursday, September 1, 2016

Breaking Down the September Schedules

Now that we have reached September 1 I guess it's okay to actually start to break down the potential Wild Card contenders. The Rangers are going to the playoffs barring some historic/hysterical/please-God-let-this-happen collapse, but I included them just so you could see what the Astros are up against. Not included are teams below the Astros in the Wild Card standings, even though the Yankees and Mariners and Royals are all pretty close. 

Houston Astros (71-62, 8.5 GB of Texas, 1.0 GB of WC2)

Remaining Schedule: @ Texas, @ Cleveland, vs Cubs, vs Texas, @ Seattle, @ Oakland, vs Anaheim, vs Seattle, @ Anaheim

13 at home (.574 win%)
16 on the road (.492 win%)

Record vs remaining teams: 33-24 (.579)
Record of remaining teams: 425-372 (.533)

Most of these wins come at the hands of the Angels and A’s. This next stretch is brutal and the postseason will likely be decided in the next 12 days with two series against the Ramgers, who have won 11 of 13 against the Astros plus four at Cleveland. If the Astros can at least stay afloat until the end of the second Texas series – and not get swept by the Rangers – the Astros can try to take advantage of the rest of the AL West. After the Rangers series from September 12-14, the Astros have their last 16 games against the Mariners, A’s, and Angels – against whom the Astros are a combined 29-12.

FanGraphs’ Projected Rest of Season Record: 15-14

Texas Rangers (80-54)

Remaining Schedule: Vs Houston, @ Seattle, @ Anaheim, @ Houston, vs Oakland, vs Angels, @ Oakland, vs Milwaukee, @ Tampa Bay

15 at home (.682 win%)
13 on the road (.515 win%)

Record vs remaining teams: 36-21 (.632)
Record of remaining teams: 368-429 (.462)

If the Rangers go 14-14, the Astros would need to go 23-6 to win the division.

FanGraphs’ Projected Rest of Season Record: 15-13

Boston Red Sox (74-59, 2.0 up for WC1)

Remaining Schedule: @ Oakland, @ San Diego, @ Toronto, vs Baltimore, vs New York, 
@ Baltimore, @ Tampa Bay, @ New York, vs Toronto

10 at home (.577 win%)
19 on the road (.532 win%)

Record vs remaining teams: 31-25 (.553)
Record of remaining teams: 385-410 (.484)

The Red Sox next stretch – against the A’s and San Diego – are favorable for them, and they have three series against teams who are currently 20 games below .500. But they do have 19 of their remaining 29 games on the road as well as 13 games remaining against the Blue Jays and Orioles. Collectively they’re 28-25 against the other AL East teams.

FanGraphs’ Projected Rest of Season Record: 17-12

Detroit Tigers (72-61, tied for WC2)

@ Kansas City, @ Chicago White Sox, vs Baltimore, vs Minnesota, @ Cleveland, @ Minnesota, vs Kansas City, vs Cleveland, @ Atlanta

14 at home (.582 win%)
15 on the road (.500 win%)

Record vs Remaining Teams: 27-20 (.574)
Record of Remaining Teams: 379-417 (.476)

FanGraphs’ Projected Rest of Season Record: 15-14

The Tigers get two series with Minnesota, whom they’ve beaten ten of 12 times…but they also have two series against Cleveland, who has beaten them in 11 of 12 games. The Tigers have been great at home, .500 on the road – maybe that’s the tipping point for them. Ultimately getting three series against the two worst teams in baseball may be enough to push them into October. 

Baltimore Orioles (72-61, tied for WC2)

Vs New York, @ Tampa Bay, @ Detroit, @ Boston, vs Tampa Bay, vs Boston, vs Arizona, 
@ Toronto, @ New York.

14 at home (.642 win%)
15 on the road (.439 win%)

Record vs Remaining Teams: 31-26 (.544)
Record of Remaining Teams: 403-393 (.506)

Baltimore has a nine-game road trip starting on Labor Day and a six-game road trip (at Toronto and New York) to end the season. They have been fantastic at Camden Yards, going 43-24, but have struggled on the road. How they manage those two road trips will determine if they play into the first week of October.

FanGraphs’ Projected Rest of Season Record: 15-14 

Takeaways

*The FanGraphs' Projected Rest of Season Record is sort of useless to me because they're saying every team in baseball will be within six games of each other over the last month of the season. 

*The Astros' chances look bleak, I'm not going to lie. They have not shown an ability to beat the Rangers in over a year, much less on the road, and that doesn't take into account having to play the Cubs and Indians while other teams get Minnesota and Atlanta. I'm not saying it's unfair, but it's how it's stacked at this point. The Astros have to play the toughest schedule among the teams ahead of them over the last month of the 2016 season. And let's not forget that the Astros' 33 wins against teams at or over .500 is 2nd-lowest in the American League. The Astros have six series remaining against teams currently over .500. 

*Screw it. Play the games and let's see what happens. Meaningful baseball in September? Sounds good to me. 

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