Updated Post-Deadline 2021 MLB Postseason Predictions

Abbey MastraccoContributor IIAugust 1, 2021

Updated Post-Deadline 2021 MLB Postseason Predictions

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Start your engines: The race to the MLB playoffs begins now.

    Now that Friday's trade deadline has passed we have a clearer picture of what the playoff picture might look like. The next two months will be exciting for some teams, while others will just be playing out the string.

    The Los Angeles Dodgers still look like the front-runners after making the splashiest deadline deal for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, but the team will still have to come out on top against the other two powers in the National League West, the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants.

    The Washington Nationals blew up their team and decided to rebuild, leaving the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves to battle it out for the NL East crown.

    In the American League, no one can quite figure out what the Seattle Mariners are doing, but the New York Yankees aren't giving up without a fight. And yet again, we should have a Mike Trout-less postseason. And for that matter, a Shohei Ohtani-less postseason as well. We all lose when the Los Angeles Angels and two of baseball's most exciting stars aren't playing in October.

    We can safely project the teams that will miss the postseason, while some teams that haven't seemingly secured spots are in the mix for wild-card berths. But what are the chances that some of these teams will make the playoffs? Here's a look at which teams are in, which teams are out and which teams still have a chance, according to FanGraphs' playoff odds calculator.

Who Is Out in the AL?

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Orioles have a 0.0 percent chance of making the postseason, as do nearly all of the teams in the AL Central. Cleveland still has a 0.6 percent chance of sneaking in, but that's not saying much.

    The Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels haven't been mathematically eliminated yet, but they're headed in that direction. The Angels sent left-handed starter Andrew Heaney to the Yankees for two minor leaguers and dealt reliever Tony Watson to the Giants.

    Ask anyone in baseball and they'll tell you no one loves to make trades more than Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto. But when he dealt closer Kendall Graveman to the AL West foe Houston Astros, he went one trade too far.

    According to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, one player was so angry with the trade he wrecked clubhouse equipment. Many reportedly felt "betrayed" by Dipoto, who was clear in his intentions to upgrade the roster with next year in mind.

    "He hasn't come down here," a player said of Dipoto. "He sits up in his suite, playing fantasy baseball and rips apart our team without telling us anything."

    The Mariners are 2.0 games out of a second AL Wild Card, but with the Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays still gunning for that spot, their chances aren't great: FanGraphs gives them a 3.2 percent chance to break their 19-year playoff drought.

    The Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers all have a 0.0 percent chance of playing in October.

Who Is Out in the NL?

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Chicago Cubs dismantled their 2016 World Series-winning core, and the Washington Nationals did the same with their 2019 championship team. Only a month ago, it looked like those two squads were still in the hunt for postseason spots. But Washington was undone by injuries to key players like Kyle Schwarber, while Chicago was doomed by an 11-game losing streak through June and July.

    The Colorado Rockies opted against trading shortstop Trevor Story for some strange reason. Interim general manager Bill Schmidt thought two more months of Story and the competitive balance pick was more beneficial than trading him for a prospect or two.

    After the deadline passed, Story told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that he was "confused" by the lack of trade and that he didn't have "anything good to say about the situation and how it unfolded."

    The Rockies did next to nothing at the trade deadline, which is just poor management. What's the point in hanging on to Story for the rest of the season if the team has no shot at winning? Why not get something for him other than a compensatory pick? Why not get something for any of the veterans of the roster?

    Jon Gray is open to staying in Colorado, according to Nick Groke of The Athletic, so keeping him is fine. But the Rockies only traded reliever Mychal Givens to the Cincinnati Reds for two prospects. Schmidt did little to make the Rockies a better ballclub in the future.

    Does Colorado even want to win? What is the plan for next year, or the year after that? There doesn't seem to be one.

    You can almost feel the toxicity coming from Blake Street. Rockies fans don't deserve this, and Story doesn't either.

    The Miami Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks all have a 0.0 percent chance of making the postseason at FanGraphs, while the St. Louis Cardinals will likely have to contend with an NL West powerhouse for the second wild-card spot in their league.

AL East

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    Scott Audette/Associated Press

    Chances of Making the Playoffs

    • Boston Red Sox: 90.8 percent
    • Tampa Bay Rays: 77.2 percent
    • New York Yankees: 48.7 percent
    • Toronto Blue Jays: 35.4 percent

    The AL East will be a division to watch over the next two months. As many as three teams could make the playoffs or as few as two, since the Oakland Athletics could grab one of the two wild cards.

    All of these teams used the trade deadline to improve their rosters.

    The Blue Jays have finally returned to Rogers Centre, and they'll do so with star pitcher Jose Berrios, whose services they'll have through next season. But the club has made no secret of its desire to contend this season as well.

    Berrios gives the rotation a significant edge and positions Toronto to be able to better compete with the Yankees and Rays. Relievers Brad Hand and Joakim Soria (also trade-deadline additions) will help the team keep pace. The division title is probably out of reach, but the Canadian club has a 29.7 percent chance of winning the wild card.

    The Yankees have had a tumultuous season. Their lineup full of heavy hitters has struggled to hit in big spots, and they've been stiff on the basepaths and bad defensively. The rotation was thin behind ace Gerrit Cole. The saving grace has been the bullpen.

    The additions of outfielder Joey Gallo and first baseman Anthony Rizzo were lauded because of the offensive abilities of the pair, especially with both of them batting from the left, but their defense will be key as well. Both will save runs. Andrew Heaney gives the rotation some depth.

    The Rays pose the biggest threat to the Red Sox. They're only 0.5 games back from the division lead and have nearly a 30 percent chance to overtake Boston for the AL East title. However, the news that ace Tyler Glasnow is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery next week is a huge blow to Tampa Bay, as well as the league as a whole. October is better when the game's biggest stars are playing, and Glasnow brings personality to match his pitching dominance.

    The Red Sox have a 56.6 percent chance of winning the division, but starting pitching remains a concern. They didn't make any starting pitching additions at the deadline, and the 4.57 starting staff ERA is ranked 20th in baseball.

AL Central

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    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    Chances of Making the Playoffs

    • Chicago White Sox: 99.6 percent 

    This division is not much of a race. Despite all of the drama surrounding the White Sox this season with slugger Yermin Mercedes, manager Tony La Russa and the endless debate over unwritten rules, they've maintained their top spot in the AL Central for most of the season.

    Sure, there was the April threat from the rebuilding Kansas City Royals, but their time at the top of the standings was short-lived. And their injured ace, Danny Duffy, is now with the Dodgers.

    Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel went from the North Side to the South Side at the trade deadline, and the White Sox now have two of the best closers in baseball with Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks. So, who will close for the White Sox now? Who cares? Hand the ball to either of them, and Chicago will be fine.

AL West

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Chances of Making the Playoffs

    • Houston Astros: 98.4 percent
    • Oakland A's: 49.4 percent

    This one comes down to the A's and the Astros, as it has for the past three years.

    Houston is trying to keep its window of contention open for one more year before possibly losing stars like shortstop Carlos Correa and Zack Greinke in free agency. The Astros made a significant upgrade to the bullpen with the acquisition of Graveman, but they did make a strange trade with Cleveland.

    They sent Myles Straw, a productive center fielder with a 2.0 fWAR, to Cleveland for Phil Maton, a right-handed reliever with a 4.57 ERA. Minor league catcher Yainer Diaz was also part of the return for Straw.

    General manager James Click told reporters he thinks Chas McCormick and Triple-A call-up Jake Meyers can replicate the production of Straw.

    Oakland is 5.5 games back from Houston in the standings. Sure, the A's might be able to catch up, but with James Kaprielian on the injured list with a shoulder impingement, it's going to be an uphill climb. The A's have a 37.6 percent chance of winning the AL Wild Card.

NL East

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    Noah K. Murray/Associated Press

    Chances of Making the Playoffs

    • New York Mets: 69.1 percent
    • Philadelphia Phillies: 21.9 percent
    • Atlanta Braves: 13.5 percent

    The Mets should have the division locked down...probably...I think.

    Rich Hill was a huge rotation boost, and if Noah Syndergaard returns from Tommy John rehab soon, then the Mets will get an even bigger boost. New addition Javier Baez can play around the infield, and he'll fill in at shortstop in place of his good friend Francisco Lindor, who's out with an oblique strain. The defense won't miss a beat.

    That will be beneficial considering Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker, two rotation mainstays, get a lot of their outs on the ground.

    But there is concern for ace Jacob deGrom as he continues to deal with right elbow inflammation. It begs the question: Does New York have enough pitching for the stretch run?

    The Phillies and Braves have refused to concede the season.

    Atlanta kicked off the trade season early by acquiring outfielder Joc Pederson in mid-July and continued to overhaul the outfield by bringing in Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler.

    Philadelphia brought in right-handed starter and Cy Young contender Kyle Gibson and reliever Ian Kennedy from the Rangers. The Phillies have been living and dying (mostly dying) by their bad bullpen, and Kennedy gives them a new closer.

    Will the new additions be enough to catch the Mets? Maybe. Will the Braves and Phillies be able to catch the Dodgers and/or Padres in the wild-card race? Again, maybe. But the odds aren't great.

NL Central

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    Hakim Wright Sr./Associated Press

    Chances of Making the Playoffs

    • Milwaukee Brewers: 95.3 percent
    • Cincinnati Reds: 21.1 percent

    John Curtiss and Daniel Norris were traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, making the sixth-best bullpen in the NL even better. Versatile infielder Eduardo Escobar, who came over from the D-backs, brings a power bat. The Brewers have a 7.0-game lead over the Reds in the division, and there is zero competition from any of the other NL Central teams, with the Cubs and Pirates in rebuild mode and the St. Louis Cardinals too far away out of the race to make a difference.

    The Cincinnati Reds addressed their porous bullpen by adding Givens, Luis Cessa and Justin Williams. Outfielder Nick Castellanos, the NL's leader in batting average (.329), was pleased with the aggressive moves. But will they be enough to catch up to the powers in the NL West? We'll find out soon enough.

NL West

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Chances of Making the Playoffs

    • San Francisco Giants: 97.1 percent
    • Los Angeles Dodgers: 99.4 percent
    • San Diego Padres: 77.4 percent

    This division might be just as intriguing as the AL East. It has the star power. Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager are in Los Angeles, while Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer and Yu Darvish in San Diego.

    The Dodgers added Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner in a blockbuster deal last week, effectively keeping Scherzer out of San Diego. The Padres were unable to add another starter, and they probably should have because their rotation has been inconsistent as of late. They did add infielder Adam Frazier and outfielder Jake Marisnick, but the rotation remains thin behind Darvish and Joe Musgrove.

    People seem to be sleeping on San Francisco. FanGraphs has had the Dodgers as the favorites to win the World Series all season, yet it's the Giants with the best record in baseball. The rebuild is well ahead of schedule, but over the last five years, the team has invested a lot of resources in player development, which allowed it to make trades like it did last week, bringing in Kris Bryant for Alexander Canario and Caleb Killian.

    Joey Bart, the club's No. 2-ranked prospect, was not dealt, so the Giants were able to improve their outlook for October without completely mortgaging the farm.

    It's tough to sleep on any of these teams, but good luck to the Phillies, Braves and Reds in their quest to catch up to the Dodges, Padres and Giants in the NL Wild Card standings.

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