Every MLB Team's Best-Case Scenario for Rest of 2022 Regular Season

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesFeatured Columnist IVAugust 10, 2022

Every MLB Team's Best-Case Scenario for Rest of 2022 Regular Season

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    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 05: Freddie Freeman #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers goes from first to third during the game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium on August 05, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    With eight weeks remaining in MLB's 2022 regular season, what's the best-case scenario for each of the 30 teams?

    Will the Los Angeles Dodgers set the record for wins in a single season?

    Could the Toronto Blue Jays do what seemed impossible one month ago and catch the New York Yankees to win the AL East?

    Are the Boston Red Sox or San Francisco Giants going to make the playoffs?

    Please note that we're only looking at best-case scenarios for the rest of the regular season. Obviously, winning the World Series is the best-case scenario for the 18 teams that still have realistic postseason aspirations, but we're setting our sights on early October rather than the end of it.

    Please also note that we're talking about realistic scenarios. The A's aren't going 52-0 the rest of the way to win the AL West.

    Teams are listed in alphabetical order. Statistics and records are current through the start of play on Tuesday, August 9.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 05:  Austin Riley #27 of the Atlanta Braves in action against the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 05, 2022 in New York City. The Braves defeated the Mets 9-6. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Arizona Diamondbacks: Melancon Gets His Mojo Back; Carroll Steals the Show

    Mark Melancon is sputtering through one of the worst seasons of his career, but the Diamondbacks have the 37-year-old 2021 MLB saves leader under contract through next season before a mutual option in 2024.

    He has been OK over the past two months, although save opportunities have been few and far between in Arizona. It would be great for the D-backs if he finishes strong, closing out games in which presumed September call-up Corbin Carroll provides a good chunk of the offense.

    Atlanta Braves: Another 29-16 Surge to an NL East Crown

    Losing four out of five against the New York Mets last weekend was a great big step in the wrong direction, but Atlanta isn't out of it yet. The team is seven games back with seven games remaining against the Mets—all seven of them in Atlanta.

    Take care of business in those games and beat up on the likes of the Miami Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals along the way, and Atlanta can storm into the postseason just like it did one year ago.

    Baltimore Orioles: Make the Playoffs (After Upper Management Threw in the Towel)

    Despite trading Trey Mancini and Jorge Lopez by last week's deadline—essentially telling their fans they aren't trying to make the playoffs this season—the Orioles put together a five-game winning streak from Aug. 1-6 to remain firmly in the hunt for a wild-card spot.

    And it's not like the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Guardians or Chicago White Sox did much of anything at the trade deadline to improve their postseason odds.

    The Orioles will need to beat up on the Blue Jays to pull it off, though. Even after the current series concludes, they still have 12 games left against Toronto.

Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox

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    ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JULY 14: Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox is congratuladed after hitting a home run in the fourth inning during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 14, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Boston Red Sox: Get Healthy and Go on a Tear to Reach the Postseason

    No one could have guessed four months ago that Boston would be in dead last in the AL East two-thirds of the way through the season. But even after losing three out of four against the lowly Kansas City Royals, the Red Sox aren't dead yet.

    Rafael Devers and Rich Hill recently returned from the injured list. Michael Wacha and Trevor Story should be back soon-ish. Chris Sale is now out for the year, but the Red Sox are only 4.5 games back in the AL Wild Card picture. They do need to leapfrog four teams to pull it off, but stranger things have happened.

    Chicago Cubs: Re-Sign Willson Contreras to a Long-Term Deal

    After trading David Robertson to the Philadelphia Phillies, one big goal for these next two months is figuring out whether the Cubs can roll into 2023 with Rowan Wick (under team control through 2025) as their closer.

    But after not trading Willson Contreras, the even bigger goal is signing their three-time All-Star catcher/designated hitter to a long-term deal, lest they risk losing him as a free agent this offseason.

    If the Colorado Rockies could re-sign Daniel Bard to a two-year deal just days before the trade deadline, surely the Cubs can re-up with Contreras before the season ends and he gets to find out what he's worth on the open market.

    Chicago White Sox: Win the Division

    Buckle up for three of these best-case scenarios in this division because the AL Central is wide-open and there's basically no hope for the winner to get a first-round bye. It's a three-horse race for the AL's No. 3 seed.

    Only the White Sox would be embarrassed if they failed to get it done, though, given their payroll and preseason expectations. And now that they're more or less fully healthy with a pretty favorable remaining schedule, they have no excuse for letting this opportunity slip away.

Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians and Colorado Rockies

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    CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 07: Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11) throws to first base for an out during the third inning of the Major League Baseball game between the Houston Astros and Cleveland Guardians on August 7, 2022, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Cincinnati Reds: Find Some Diamonds in the Rough

    Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Brandon Drury, Tommy Pham and Tyler Naquin were all traded. Tyler Stephenson is likely out for the season, and there's no reason to rush Hunter Greene back in 2022.

    So what's left in Cincinnati?

    A whole bunch of guys auditioning for a spot on next year's roster.

    Could outfielder Jake Fraley, middle infielder Jose Barrero or catcher Michael Papierski be a long-term contributor? Reiver Sanmartin, T.J. Zeuch or Luis Cessa a starter? Alexis Diaz a closer? The beauty of a fire sale is you get to spend the next two months trying to answer these questions.

    Cleveland Guardians: Win the Division

    Save for trading Sandy Leon to the Twins for Ian Hamilton, the Guardians did absolutely nothing ahead of the trade deadline. Even for a small-market club, it was a strange approach. The team was one game back in the division and one game back in the NL Wild Card hunt.

    But the Guardians could still win the AL Central. They are 34-1 when scoring at least six runs, demonstrating how dangerous they can be when players aside from José Ramirez are getting hits.

    Colorado Rockies: Starting Rotation Builds on Recent Success

    Colorado's year-to-date pitching stats are a nightmare. Twelve Rockies have logged at least 38.0 innings pitched in 2022, and closer Daniel Bard is the only one to do so with a sub-4.00 ERA.

    But over the past 30 days, starters Antonio Senzatela (4.01 ERA), Kyle Freeland (3.97 ERA), German Marquez (3.13 ERA) and Austin Gomber (2.33 ERA) have been quite respectable on the mound. If they can finish strong and carry that momentum into next season, let's just say the Rockies have more than enough hitting to be competitive.

Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals

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    OAKLAND, CA - JULY 27: Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez (44) gets ready for a pitch during the game between the Houston Astros and the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, July 27, 2022 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Detroit Tigers: Figure Out If Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene Are the Future

    Heading into this season, Torkelson and Greene were two of the highest-rated prospects in baseball. The former hovered around the Mendoza Line for more than three months before getting sent back down to Triple-A. The latter got out to a late start because of a broken foot, but he hasn't been much better with a .239 batting average and just three home runs in 44 games played.

    But at this point in a lost season, the Tigers might as well put them both in the heart of the order the rest of the way and see how it goes because they need to know if those guys can be counted on for anything moving forward.

    Houston Astros: Get the No. 1 Seed

    Anything can happen in October, but the general assumption is that it'll be Houston against New York in the ALCS.

    The Astros sure would love to have home-field advantage in that series, considering they went 3-0 in Houston against the Yankees during the regular season.

    With losses in eight of their last 14 games—including getting swept by Oakland, of all teams—the Astros haven't done themselves any favors in that quest. But they entered play Tuesday just one game behind the Yankees in the AL and with a substantially easier schedule than New York the rest of the way.

    Kansas City Royals: Just Don't Break the Young Bats

    Bobby Witt Jr. is unlikely to edge out Julio Rodríguez or Jeremy Peña for AL Rookie of the Year, but he is on pace for roughly 23 home runs and 30 stolen bases. MJ Melendez has been one of the best slugging catchers this season. Vinnie Pasquantino and Nick Pratto haven't played much at the MLB level this season, but it's not hard to see why they were KC's top prospects after Witt and Melendez got their calls.

    There's an exciting young nucleus there, and Kansas City's offensive numbers the rest of the way will be interesting to monitor with that quartet and Sal Perez shouldering the load.

Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins

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    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 07: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels looks on during the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on August 07, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
    Alika Jenner/Getty Images

    Los Angeles Angels: Extend Shohei Ohtani Immediately

    Trading Raisel Iglesias (owed $16 million in each of 2023, 2024 and 2025) was exactly what the Angels needed to do to make room in their budget to lock up Ohtani for the long term.

    So...what are they waiting for?

    The longer they put it off, the more we're all going to speculate about what he's worth in free agency and/or offer trade packages that could be enough to get Ohtani this offseason. (He's arbitration-eligible for next season but is scheduled to hit free agency in 15 months.) Shut that noise down by getting the deal done pronto.

    Los Angeles Dodgers: Set MLB Record Wins in a Season

    Last year, the Dodgers tied their franchise record with 106 regular-season wins. They are on pace for 112.4 this year.

    And at that point, why not go ahead and get 117 to pass the 2001 Seattle Mariners and 1906 Chicago Cubs for the most in MLB history?

    It didn't seem possible four weeks ago, but with a 19-3 record in their last 22 games, going 42-12 the rest of the way feels doable. And if they have a shot at it with six games to go, ending the regular season with six straight at home against the Rockies could get them there.

    Miami Marlins: Sandy Alcantara Wins the NL Cy Young

    The Marlins have had some impressive pitchers over the years—Kevin Brown, A.J. Burnett, Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, Josh Johnson and José Fernández, just to name a few. But this is one of three franchises (along with Colorado and Texas) that has never won a Cy Young Award.

    That should be coming to an end if Sandy Alcantara can even remotely continue producing like he has thus far. There have been just nine instances this season of a pitcher logging at least 9.0 innings while allowing zero earned runs, and this Marlins ace was responsible for three of them.

Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins and New York Mets

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on August 07, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Milwaukee Brewers: Bounce Back to Win the NL Central

    Since deciding it could win the NL Central without Josh Hader, Milwaukee has gone from three games ahead of St. Louis to two games behind.

    But there's no time to panic, especially with three games at the Cardinals this weekend. This is still one of the best home run-hitting teams in the majors, and a rotation anchored by Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Eric Lauer can pave the way to the playoffs.

    Minnesota Twins: Win the Division

    Unlike the White Sox and Guardians, the Twins at least went for it at the deadline. They got Tyler Mahle from Cincinnati, Jorge Lopez from Baltimore and Michael Fulmer from Detroit, considerably upgrading their pitching staff.

    They've been hanging on for dear life to first place in the AL Central for basically the entire season, but those moves should help.

    Whether it helps Minnesota end its 18-game postseason losing streak since 2004 is another question, but the best-case scenario for the regular season is winning the division for the third time in four years.

    New York Mets: Get the No. 1 Seed

    Catching up to the Dodgers is starting to feel impossible. Entering Tuesday, the Mets had won 13 of their last 15 games and gained just one game.

    But they do host the Dodgers for a three-game set beginning Aug. 30, and only six of New York's subsequent 30 games are against teams with a winning percentage of .455 or better. Conversely, the Dodgers still need to play 18 games against the Padres, Giants and Cardinals after that series in New York.

    And with Jacob deGrom back and already dominating the competition, anything is possible.

New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics and Philadelphia Phillies

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 01:  Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees runs the bases after his second inning two run home run against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on August 01, 2022 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Mariners 7-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    New York Yankees: Get to 105 Wins (and Get Aaron Judge to 60+ Homers)

    In franchise history, the Yankees have won at least 65 percent of their regular-season games 13 times. They won the World Series in 11 of those seasons. And it's probably going to take at least 105 wins (64.8 percent) to edge the Astros for the No. 1 seed in the AL.

    The Yankees are also 2-for-2 in the World Series department when employing a player who hits at least 60 home runs, winning it all with Babe Ruth (60) in 1927 and Roger Maris (61) in 1961. And Judge is on pace to finish the season with 65 dingers.

    Oakland Athletics: Tank for the No. 1 Pick

    Falling behind the Nationals is going to be tough, but the A's could pull it off.

    Only the Tigers have had a more anemic offense this season. And with Frankie Montas now with New York and Paul Blackburn sporting a 6.32 ERA since the beginning of June, it's pretty much Cole Irvin or bust on the mound.

    If Oakland can get swept in the "battle of who could not care less" series against the Nats in D.C. from Aug. 30-Sep. 1, the worst record in the majors is feasible. Dare to dream.

    Philadelphia Phillies: Harper Returns in Midseason Form; Phillies Leapfrog Braves for No. 4 Seed

    When he suffered a broken thumb June 25, Bryce Harper was easily a top-10 candidate for NL MVP, putting up numbers similar to those that won him the award last season. And while the Phillies have done a surprisingly great job of keeping pace with the Mets and Braves in the NL East without him, if Harper comes back in early September and hits as well as he was before the injury, that could make a difference down the stretch.

    Seven games with Atlanta in the second half of September loom large.

Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants

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    SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 08: Juan Soto #22 of the San Diego Padres runs to first base after hitting a single during the first inning of a game against the San Francisco Giants at PETCO Park on August 08, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Finish in the Top 3 in the Division for a Change

    For the majority of teams hopelessly out of the postseason conversation, finishing in last place (for better draft picks) and developing young talent is the main goal down the stretch.

    But the Pirates have finished third or better in the NL Central just four times since 2000 and had a sub-.400 winning percentage in each of the past two seasons. Showing signs of life the rest of the way—led by Ke'Bryan Hayes, Bryan Reynolds and Oneil Cruz—would be a nice step in the right direction.

    San Diego Padres: Best Record in Baseball over Final 48 Games

    The Padres have scored just seven runs during their five-game losing streak. But once Fernando Tatis Jr. makes his long-awaited 2022 debut, it'll be full steam ahead.

    It's still unclear when that will happen, but count on some point during the Aug. 12-28 stretch in which San Diego gets seven games against the Nationals and three each against the Marlins and Royals.

    If the Padres can't run rampant through that portion of the schedule, there are going to be a whole lot of questions and frustrations.

    San Francisco Giants: Make the Playoffs

    At 5.5 games back in the wild-card race with 20 yet to come against the Dodgers, Padres, Braves and Phillies, it's unlikely the Giants will claw their way back into the playoff picture.

    Then again, they're as healthy right now as they have been this season, and after this series in San Diego, they get 12 straight against the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Rockies and Tigers. They could go on a huge run over the next two weeks to catch back up to the Brewers, Padres and Phillies.

    From there, anything's possible.

Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays

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    WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 31:   Paul Goldschmidt #46 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on in the dugout during the game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on Sunday, July 31, 2022 in Washington, District of Columbia. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
    Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

    Seattle Mariners: End the Drought with the No. 4 Seed

    Even if the M's get into the postseason as a No. 5 or No. 6 seed, fans will be thrilled. Seattle hasn't made the playoffs since Ichiro Suzuki's rookie season in 2001. And when your drought is old enough to legally drink, you take what you can get.

    But it would be a damn shame if the Mariners were the No. 5 or No. 6 seed and got eliminated before even playing a home game. Because Felix Hernandez throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in front of a raucous crowd would be electric.

    St. Louis Cardinals: Steal a 1st-Round Bye

    The Cards bypassing the Mets for the No. 2 seed in the NL is about as likely as the Blue Jays overtaking the Yankees to win the AL East.

    But it's possible.

    St. Louis faces the Nationals, Pirates, Reds, Cubs, Rockies and Diamondbacks in 38 of its final 54 games, so it certainly should finish with a flourish. And after a three-game sweep of the Yankees, there's little question the Cardinals could pull it off. Trading for Jordan Montgomery and Jose Quintana could be a difference-maker for a team in dire need of a No. 4 and No. 5 starter.

    Tampa Bay Rays: Get the No. 4 Seed and Get Those Bats Healthy

    Even with "best-case scenario" glasses on, catching the Yankees to win the AL East isn't happening. But bypassing the Blue Jays for the top wild-card spot is both plausible and critical, as it would mean hosting a best-of-three series against the AL's No. 5 seed.

    The Rays are 11-10 in postseason games at Tropicana Field compared to 8-13 on the road. And if they're playing at home with Wander Franco, Harold Ramirez and Manuel Margot actually in the lineup instead of on the IL, even better.

Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 04: Alek Manoah #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of the game at Target Field on August 4, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
    David Berding/Getty Images

    Texas Rangers: Josh Jung Thrives as a September Call-Up

    The No. 8 pick in the 2019 draft batted .326 with 19 home runs in 78 games at Double-A and Triple-A last season and was expected to be the Rangers' primary third baseman this season.

    However, he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in late February and just started playing rookie league ball again July 28. He's mashing homers, though, so you've got to think he'll be back at Triple-A shortly and a September call-up who plays a lot for a team with no postseason chances.

    Toronto Blue Jays: Storm Back to Win the AL East

    On July 10, the Blue Jays were 16.5 games behind the Yankees. But in four weeks' time, they gained seven games on the AL East favorites and almost sort of have a pulse in the division race once again, though they dropped back a game Monday.

    In addition to 12 games remaining against Baltimore after Wednesday, Toronto also has seven against New York (four in mid-August, three in late September). The Jays probably need to go at least 6-1 in those games against the Yankees to have any chance. But with the way they've been playing over the past month, why not?

    Washington Nationals: Embrace the Abyss

    With Juan Soto and Josh Bell out of the picture, Washington's team leader in Baseball Reference wins above replacement is Victor Robles. He's at 1.1 WAR with a .612 OPS.

    Might as well just play replacement-level players across the board, which the Nats have at least started doing by giving Joey Meneses, Ildemaro Vargas and Josh Palacios regular playing time.

    But don't stop there. Call up two more journeymen to replace impending free agents Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez with a two-pronged plan of finding diamonds in the rough and securing the No. 1 pick in next year's draft.


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