2021 MLB Pennant Race and Playoff Picture

Can the Texas Rangers pull the ol’ switcharoo, sweep the Yankees and ruin their postseason dreams?
Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs

By Wiley Singleton

The Texas Rangers begin a series against the hated New York Yankees today. Joey Gallo and Rougie Odor are in pinstripes and still hit around .200. The Yankees desperately need to sweep the hapless Rangers. The Yankees are on the outside looking in, as far as the playoffs are concerned. With Tampa essentially having already clinched, the Yanks have been battling the Red Sox for the first Wild Card seed. Red hot Toronto, led by young power hitters like Vlad Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette, have overtaken the Yanks for the second Wild Card seed. The Rangers could hamstring their hated rivals at a time when they need a sweep badly. 

The White Sox have clinched their joke division as everyone expected. The Astros also have an essentially insurmountable lead. Oakland is the only real threat to them, and they are constant chokers with a weak rotation. 

The NL playoff race is far more interesting. The NL East is similar to the NFC East. Underperforming teams doing their best to out-suck each other. The Braves were the favorite going into this season. They lost 3 of their top 4 players. Ronald Acuna Jr, Mike Soroka, and Marcell Ozuna have all been out for months. Freddie Freeman has done his best to solo carry the team, but the Braves are vulnerable. The Phillies, led by MVP favorite Bryce Harper, are the biggest threat. Harper leads the MLB in OPS. He has played gold glove defense. He has no one getting on in front of him, and has no lineup protection since Rhys Hoskins went down for the season. Harper puts on masterclass performances night after night and is valiantly trying to carry his team, which features the worst bullpen in the NL, to the playoffs. This is the season where Bryce Harper became a man; combining his 2015 MVP year numbers with leadership. The Phillies are a real threat if they do make the playoffs. Starting pitching dominates the postseason. They have Zach Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and former Ranger Kyle “Ace” Gibson as their playoff rotation. They would certainly be the more entertaining team to watch in the postseason. As opposed to the corpse that is remnants of the Braves. The Braves always make the playoffs and did not have the firepower to win a pennant, with their best players. Seeing them win the NL East by default then get smashed in the first round would be banal and uninteresting. 

The New York Mets have put their fans through another classic year of Mets baseball. Insane offensive underperformances, star pitchers getting hurt, and wretched managing cling onto the Mets franchise like the reek of a New York Subway. Jacob deGrom, the Mets ace, was having a legendary year until he ran into arm trouble in early July. It was speculated he would come back in September along with fellow fireballer Noah “Thor” Syndergaard. Neither have made a return. The only thing more common that Mets aces having arm injuries is the setbacks that occur during the rehab process. Matt “Dark Knight” Harvey had his career derailed beyond repair trying to carry this joke of a franchise coming off of Tommy John Surgery. Harvey pitched over 250 IP in 2015, the year after the major elbow surgery, the most IP in MLB history coming off of TJS. The media made a big fuss about the idea of an “innings limit” floated by Harvey’s agent going down the 2015 stretch in which the Mets would eventually capture a pennant. Harvey was front and center during that run. Notably begging to stay in for the 9th inning of his immortal game: Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. Harvey gave everything he had to help the Mets. He was rewarded with vitriol from legions of subhumans known as “New Yorkers.” 

The same crybaby Mets fans that spit on Harvey after he became ineffective due to injury (caused by him caring and pitching too much) expect Thor and deGrom to risk their careers pitching hurt in September. New Yorkers do not deserve these gallant aces. They do not deserve playoff baseball either. Hopefully Mets fans will not even have the opportunity to switch into their Yankees gear in October. 

Dom Smith, Jeff McNeil, and virtually every other offensive starter on the Mets has had a serious regression. Closer Edwin Diaz is like the Kramer of baseball. Similar to the fictional New Yorker, “Edlose” Diaz brings instant hilarity any time he enters a scene. Entering the game to a jokish trumpet laided tune, Diaz makes any close game the Mets are in a joyride. Diaz’s signature move is to give up towering homers and point up in the sky as though it is a can of corn popup his infielders need help spotting. Managing this insipid clownshow is Luis Rojas, a man whose most notable qualification for the job was his ability to speak Spanish. The Mets originally hired Carlos Beltran for this job for similar reasons. 

“The Latin players really look up to him” crooned WFAN’s Mets mouthpiece Evan Roberts. It turns out Beltran’s sole contribution to the 2017 Astros was browbeating the Latin players into keeping quiet about the cheating, IN SPANISH of course. The Mets had to fire Beltran before he coached a single game because his role as enforcer in the Astros cheating scandal came to light. Beltran is a repugnant disgrace and his cheating ways will probably keep him out of the Hall of Fame. After that disaster, which was classic Mets, they elected to promote the next highest ranking Latin coach in their organization. Seeing ethnocentric nepotism like this must have seemed completely normal to the average New Yorker. 

The NL Central has been dominated by the Brewers. They have been led by razor sharp starting pitching. Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes have established themselves as a filthy one-two-punch. Freddy Peralta is a very good 3rd man behind them. Fireballer Josh Hader closes games for them. Hader is basically 1995 Randy Johnson out of the bullpen. Mullet down to his shoulders, the lanky lefty overpowers opponents with high heat and a nasty slider. This team is also well coached by Craig Counsell. This team lacks offensive pop, especially considering former MVP Christian Yelich is slugging an insanely soft .373. The Brewers are dangerous because of their pitching and will win their division.

The Reds and surging Cardinals are the two biggest threats for the second Wild Card seed. The Reds feature Joey Votto back in prime form. Unfortunately for them, star hitter Jesse Winker has been out for a while now. They also lost their best bullpen arm, Tejay Antone. Antone has a filthy curveball but blew his arm out about a month ago. The Reds are plucky and exciting but are getting cold at the wrong time. The Cards are heating up and currently hold the second Wild Card seed.

The NL West has been very exciting. The Dodgers are the Dodgers. Very good, heavy favorites as usual. The Giants have surprised many, leading the division for most of the season behind solid pitching and a balanced yet powerful offensive attack. Whichever team does not win the division will take the first Wild Card seed. Winning the division is still a big deal, as the BO1 Wild Card game is very high risk. It should remain this way to encourage teams to win the division. Any talk of playoff expansion should be dismissed as insipid. They play 162 games. We do not need a jokish NBA style playoff format where half the league makes it in.

Everyone’s favorite trendy pick, the San Diego Padres, have cratered and collapsed in a fashion so spectacular it would impress even the Mets. The Mets and Padres both bought at the deadline. The Padres tanked for years to get draft picks and this was supposed to be the year. Led by dynamic young star Fernando Tatis Jr and overpaid antagonist Manny Machado, the Padres were a shoe-in for the Wild Card game. The two month long meltdown has been a sight to behold. Trendy, hyped teams like this rarely live up to billing in their first year. But the San Diego Flash In The Pandres have taken this trend to biblical levels, threatening to finish below .500. After putting out a garbage product on purpose for a half decade, the Padres decided an offseason of hype was all that was needed to bump ticket prices up by 25%. Hopefully next season they miss the playoffs again after showing such grotesque avarice. Owners that put out a trash product on purpose for years then hike prices the moment they even sniff a good season are usurious animals. 


AL West: Astros

AL Central: White Sox

AL East: Rays

Wild Cards: Red Sox and Blue Jays. 

NL West: Dodgers

NL Central: Brewers

NL East: Phillies

Wild Card: Giants and Braves