MLB Playoff Race: Teams in Desperate Need of a Big Weekend

Antwan StaleyContributor IISeptember 5, 2014

USA Today

While some teams have just about punched their ticket to the postseason, there are others that are struggling during the last month of the regular season. So who are the MLB teams in need of a big weekend to remain in the playoff race? 

Milwaukee Brewers 

The Brewers have lost nine straight games and have gone from leading the National League Central to being in second place in the wild-card race. 

Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun have both been injured, and the Brewers' offense has suffered because of the injuries. Milwaukee has scored more than two runs only once during their nine-game losing streak. 

The Brewers are playing the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals this weekend. If Milwaukee continues to struggle, this series could all but end their dreams of winning the division. This weekend is a great opportunity to send the Cardinals a message that the Brewers are still playoff contenders. 

Oakland Athletics

The Oakland A's have gone from having the best record in the majors to fighting just to get into the postseason. The Athletics have lost seven of their last 10 and are 7-16 in their last 23 as they have gone from a four-game lead in the AL West to a five-game deficit to the Angels

The Houston Astros will visit Oakland this weekend, so it is a great opportunity for the Athletics to get back on track if they want to get back into the AL West race. The Athletics have to win their series against the Astros or they will probably be playing in the one-game wild-card playoff come October.

Pittsburgh Pirates

If the Pirates want to make the playoffs for a second straight season, they will have to snap their four-game losing streak. 

Pittsburgh's offense has struggled during the last 10 games as the team has hit .176 with runners in scoring position while recording three or fewer runs seven times during that span. 

The Pirates are one-and-a-half games back of the Atlanta Braves and the Brewers for the last wild-card spot. Pittsburgh visits the Chicago Cubs this weekend, whom they have beaten nine out of 13 times this season. With the Brewers' sudden freefall, this would be a perfect opportunity for the Pirates to gain control over the last wild-card position. 

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees are four games behind the Detroit Tigers for the last wild-card spot. The Yankees have a huge series against the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals this weekend. If the Yankees could somehow sweep the Royals, they could trim their deficit in the AL wild-card race to only two games. 

The Yankees are coming off a big series win against their rival Boston Red Sox, so they have played well lately despite their offensive struggles. The Yankees rank 18th in the majors in batting average and 19th in runs scored. Usually the Yankees rank near the top of the majors in runs scored, but that hasn't been the case in 2014. 

Michael Pineda goes on the mound for the Yankees on Friday. He is is 2-1 with a 2.21 ERA in three career starts against Kansas City. Brandon McCarthy and Shane Greene will pitch Games 2 and 3 of the series.

New York plays the Tampa Bay Rays after their Kansas City series, so they are not out of the playoff race by any means. They just need to win their series at home against a tough Royals team.