It’s amazing how a few last-second trades before this season’s trade deadline has transformed the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays from mediocre to championship contenders. New York acquired All-Star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers just before the deadline, and have gone 27-12 since. Cespedes has carried the Mets, hitting .309 with 17 home runs and 42 RBI since his arrival. Coupled with strong pitching from Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Jacob DeGrom, the Mets have built themselves a commanding 8.5 game lead for first place in the National League East.

In Toronto, their acquisitions included shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and former Cy Young Award-winner David Price. Both made an immediate impact, especially Price, providing a much-needed ace in the Jays’ pitching staff. Their sharp play was on display last weekend, as they won three games out of four against the New York Yankees.

Toronto now has a three game lead over the New York Yankees, who have been showing their age as the postseason approaches. With a lineup that includes three players with over 30 home runs each (Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion), it’s hard to imagine any team that could halt their goal for a World Series title.

While a playoff spot for the Mets looks more and more likely as we approach October, the Yankees have taken a step back in their hunt to get back in the playoffs. They lost their All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira for the rest of the season due to a bone fracture in his right shin. Although Alex Rodriguez has surprised everybody with 30 home runs on the season, his age is starting to show after playing a lot more than expected.

The Yankees’ pitching has not been strong as of late, including C.C. Sabathia, who fears his latest knee injury could be career-threatening. They still hold first-place in the American League Wild Card race, but the Texas Rangers and the Minnesota Twins lurk closely behind. Clearly, the Yankees need to get into a rhythm before the postseason begins so that they can get back there for the first time since 2012.

Like the Yankees, the Washington Nationals have also collapsed, falling well out of first place in the National League East to the rolling Mets. Bryce Harper may very well win this year’s NL MVP with the way he has played, but it won’t save the reeling Nats. Considered World Series favorites heading into the season, the Nationals now find themselves nine games out of the second Wild Card spot in the NL playoff race.

The St. Louis Cardinals own the league’s best record and are prime for another deep run at a World Series title. Out west, Clayton Kershaw leads the Los Angeles Dodgers as they look to finally represent the NL in the World Series, which hasn’t occurred since 1988.

In Chicago, young stars Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have made strong contributions for the Cubs this season, as they sit in first place in the NL Central with an 83-61 record. The Houston Astros one of the younger teams in baseball, yet they find themselves in the playoff picture as they hold a slim lead over the Texas Rangers in the American League West.

It should be a tight finish in the AL, as there are a number of teams fighting for playoff spots. There’s no doubt that these final few weeks of regular season play will be exciting to watch.

 

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