The All-Star break continues to get smaller and smaller in our rear view mirror. The 4th of July is now almost a month removed. The non-waiver trade deadline has passed and we turn the calendar to August, where each and every game has a bit more meaning. There are three way division races, wild card surprises, and runaway division titles. Before we know it, it’ll be September and we’ll be knocking on the door to the holy postseason.
Even though a game in April counts as much as a game in August, it’s undeniable that every 90 feet starts to feel more important as summer creeps over the hill and we slide downhill towards the inevitable Fall Classic.
Here are nine series in the month of August that can play a critical role in the postseason picture. All standings, records, and stats are as of end of play on 8/1.
Yankees vs. Red Sox, August 2-5, Fenway Park
Yes, the rest of the league’s fanbases tire of this rivalry, but you can’t deny the electricity of the greatest rivalry in American sports. The Yankees have slipped against the pesky Rays, and the Red Sox have rolled on. Boston has opened a 5.5 game lead and can really take control at home in a critical four game set between the beasts of the east.
Rockies vs. Brewers, August 3-5, Miller Park
In a battle of second place teams, the Rockies visit Milwaukee looking to continue a recent surge. Colorado finds themselves in the midst of a three-way race in the NL West, looking up at both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. Trailing by just one game, the Rockies potent offense (7th in MLB in runs) looks to gain ground. The Brewers have surrendered the Central lead to the Cubs in a very intriguing division race. The Brewers led the Cubs by 4.5 on May 30, but fell to 3.5 back on July 22. After Wednesday night’s loss in Los Angeles, the Brew Crew find themselves a game back but will no doubt bring their best when the Rockies come to town for three in Milwaukee.
Astros vs. Dodgers, August 3-5, Dodger Stadium
Does this one really need explanation? Other than being a rematch of one of the most exciting World Series in memory, Los Angeles will continue to try to stave off Colorado and Arizona for NL West supremacy. The Dodgers were busy at the deadline, acquiring superstar Manny Machado and others to try to win one more game than they did last year. Houston hasn’t been as unbeatable this year, but still have a five game lead on Seattle and Oakland. They have to be careful, as one bad series and the World Champs could find themselves in a three-way duel for the division.
Braves vs. Nationals, August 7-9, Nationals Park
Atlanta travels to the nation’s capitol for a four game set that kicks off with a double-header on August 7. Sporting the third best batting average in baseball (.261), the Braves (along with the Phillies) have combined youth and experience to turn the NL East on its head. Just one game back of Philly, Atlanta will look to kill two birds with one stone by gaining ground on third place Washington. The Nationals were rumored to have put the enigmatic Bryce Harper up for sale at the deadline, a revelation that raised eyebrows as a possible white flag on the 2018 season. However, the Nats are far from finished, winning 6 of their last 10 and staying within striking distance of the division lead and wild card (five games back of both). Don’t count the loaded Washington offense out just yet, and their greatest opportunity to gain ground starts in this four game set at home versus Atlanta.
Dodgers at Rockies, August 9 – 12, Coors Field
Another four game set that could will be pivotal in a division race. Who knows what the standings will look like when the two NL West rivals clash, but one thing’s for sure: The Arizona Diamondbacks will be watching and will have a chance to gain ground on someone every night of this series. The D-backs will be in Cincinnati during this series.
Mariners at Athletics, August 13 – 15, Oakland Coliseum
This series could deliver a critical blow should either team manage to sweep the other one out of Oakland. The Mariners and A’s have locked horns in the Wild Card race, but only one would move on barring a complete collapse of either the Yankees or Red Sox. The M’s have the advantage in the loss column, but Oakland has been winning dramatically and consistently over the last two months (34-18 since 6/1). This should be a great series.
Brewers at Cubs, August 14-15, Wrigley Field
Sure it’s only two games, but this see-saw battle between the veteran Cubs and the new kids on the block means every game is critical. This is the prologue to September when the teams will swap stadiums for six games during the season’s home stretch.
Indians at Red Sox, August 21-23, Fenway Park
It’s completely possible that these two teams have comfortable leads in their divisions at this point. Should the Red Sox take three or four from the Yankees in the series we discussed earlier, both clubs could come into this series conceivably up at least eight games. The Indians are running away with the Central as expected, though their 59-48 record is not elite by any means. Seattle and Oakland have better records by comparison (63-45, 64-46, respectively). So while this game may not have playoff seeding implications, it sure could be a playoff preview and is loaded with superstar talent.
Phillies at Nationals, Nationals at Phillies, August 21-23 and 27-29
I know I know, I’m cheating here. This is technically two series. But with only a few days sandwiched between this home-and-home, what’s not to love about these six games? We’ll already know the results from the Braves-Nats series earlier in the month, and if Washington can take that series and at least one of these with Philly, we’ll be staring at a wild three-headed monster of a race come September. I really can’t wait to see where these two teams, and the Atlanta Braves, sit at the end of play on August 29.