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A look back at the thrills and spills of the World Series
  1. MLB

MLB - US Sports: State of play in the MLB

We look at the state of play in Major League Baseball with a month of the regular season left to play.

Who is on course for the various divisional titles, who is nailed on for a Wild Card place and who are the runners and riders expected to cause an upset and change the narrative?

American League

It wasn't that long ago that the New York Yankees were the best team in baseball and ready to cement their position in the playoffs with games to spare.

However, things have nose-dived drastically for the Bronx Bombers that, not only are they not the best team in MLB or the American League, they are only just the best team in their Division.

The Yankees led the AL East by an advantage of 15 and a half games less than two months ago, however, the lead after New York's Sunday afternoon win is now just five games. The Tampa Bay Rays, hot on the heels of the Yankees, won the series 2-1, and have three more games at Yankee Stadium next week.

Yankees coach Aaron Boone felt Saturday night's loss was 'embarrassing' and he spoke to YES Network, annoyed with how his side is playing: "We're gonna find out what we are made of. We're as deep in adversity as you can get. A lot of people are really mad. What's our response? We're in control of it. It's on us to do it. It's there to do it."

The AL East also has three teams vying for one of three AL Wild Card positions as the Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and somewhat surprisingly, the Baltimore Orioles. All within around three and a half games of each other.

The Seattle Mariners lead the AL Wild card positions, but, as usual, it's the Houston Astros, who are the best team in the American League at the moment and they have a 10 game lead over the Mariners in the AL West.

Three teams are up for the battle in the AL Central. Cleveland Guardians are the frontrunners, although they lead by half a game over the Minnesota Twins, closely followed by the Chicago White Sox, who are two and a half games back. The wild card for these sides seems a long way away even though it's only five games, it just appears too much.

National League

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the best team in Major League Baseball and have won 91 games so far this season and are 18 games ahead of their nearest challengers, the San Diego Padres.

The only issue that the Dodgers have at the moment appears to be with their six-man rotation, three of them All-Stars. LA have played themselves into a position where they can worry about who will be in their rotation in October and that is just reward for the side who are packed with stars.

Dodgers team manager Dave Roberts spoke to the Athletic recently about his team's performance: "We've done a great job up to this point. And the challenge is, how do we do that when we get to the playoffs, and through the postseason?"

In the National League East, there must be something in the water about imploding as the New York Mets have a lead of just one game over the Atlanta Braves. It's the closest the Braves have been to the Mets since 23rd July.  The Braves are on the charge for their fifth consecutive NL East title and try for back-to-back World Series titles.

The St Louis Cardinals are on course for the NL Central title as they have an eight game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers, who just haven't been the same since they traded closer Josh Hader away to the Padres. The Brewers are battling hard for a National League Wild Card spot and are three games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the third spot. Atlanta (for the moment) and San Diego occupy the two other places.

Arizona and San Francisco are nine games adrift of the Wild Card positions and unless something goes drastically wrong for the Phillies, these two franchises are out of the race.

Finishing as strong as possible will also earn a more favourable seeding for the playoffs, not only for the Wild Card positions, but also in the Division series. The Dodgers and Astros are on course for a World Series matchup this year and a repeat of 2017 would be nice.

These two franchises have been the best MLB have to offer for the past five seasons, although some have threatened to join in, it's surprising that the Dodgers and Astros have only two Championships between them in the past five years.

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