The AL West is becoming a battle for the state of Texas in rapid order. The first place Texas Rangers (51-35) and the second place Houston Astros (48-38) are starting to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the division.
Seattle and Los Angeles are still within striking distance of the two Texas clubs, but as the season goes further along, their chances of catching the Rangers and/or Astros are diminishing. The Angels (45-43) are currently seven games behind the Rangers and trail the Astros by four games. Despite winning four games in a row, the Mariners (42-42) are eight and five games behind the Lone Star State teams respectively.
Texas Rangers divisional rival sustains big blow to key player
The Los Angeles Angels received some terrible news yesterday, as Mike Trout broke his hamate bone in his left hand/wrist during a swing against the San Diego Padres. The injury usually means being sidelined for six to eight weeks, which could spell the beginning of the end to the Angels playoff hopes. It will be interesting to see how the injury effects the teams ability to re-sign Shohei Ohtani in the offseason.
Or perhaps, the Angels could shift gears altogether and trade the best player in the game at the trade deadline before he is able to walk in free agency at the end of the season. This scenario is unlikely, but if the month of July is rough on the Angels it is a move that they should make. As a Ranger's fan, I am hoping that they keep Ohtani with the organization for the rest of the season and then have him either sign with Texas (unlikely, but who knows) or someone outside the division.
The Mariners have reeled off four straight wins but are still in fourth place in the division and trail the Rangers by the aforementioned eight games. They do have a solid pitching staff, so they are not to be taken lightly. Their season has been a bit of a yo-yo. March and April saw the Mariners go 12-16, but then May was great as they went 17-11 and got back in the thick of things only to go 9-15 in June and drop back down in the standings. The team is undefeated in July at 4-0, but it remains to be seen if they are true contenders or not.
Texas Rangers lead Fangraphs odds to win AL West
Fangraphs has the Rangers as the favorites to win the division at 51.8%, followed by the Astros at 38.2%. The Mariners are listed next at 5.6% and the Angels weigh in at 4.4%. Oakland, with their 24-63 record is obviously sitting at 0.0% chance of winning the division, or even making the playoffs at all.
Over the next few weeks, the Astros will have the opportunity to take care of business against all of the top divisional rivals. They will host the Mariners for a four-game slate beginning tomorrow and then will be out in Los Angeles coming out of the All-Star break for a three-game series. The Rangers and Astros will tussle yet again, this time in Houston, Monday July 24th - Wednesday 26th.
There is still a lot of baseball to be played, but there is less and less each day that clicks by. As things sit now, it appears that the winner of the AL West will be coming out of the state of Texas. The Rangers sit atop both the standings and the odds at the moment. A strong surge into the All-Star break, followed by a solid July as a whole will go a long way to winning the king of the mountain battle in the AL West.