The 2016 Major League Baseball season rolls into the second week of August as teams in the American League fight for the final few playoff spots. Currently six teams are within five games of each other for the final two wild card spots while two of those teams are within two games of first place in their respective divisions.
This opens up the door for some exciting baseball down the stretch while also leaving the door open for a few of the teams on the cusp to land an American League Playoff spot. One of those teams is the Houston Astros who currently sit fifth in the Wild Card standings just four games behind the Detroit Tigers.
For the Astros they have a few key areas they need to address over the next couple days to put themselves into contention. One of the main areas the team needs to address is their ability to manufacture runs, something that has helped them win just two of their last ten games. In that stretch the team has managed to score three or fewer runs in seven of those games.
The second area the team needs to focus on is taking care of the teams in their respective division down the stretch. In September, the Astros have six games against the Texas Rangers, six against the Seattle Mariners, seven against the Los Angeles Angels and three against the Oakland A’s.
Here are two other American League teams who are on the cusp of a playoff spot in 2016.
Boston Red Sox: This team continues to be an up and down team in the American League East, while fighting with the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays for the top spot. For the Red Sox this club needs to receive some better pitching down the stretch as they have currently allowed the fourth most runs in all of baseball.
At the front of those struggles has been David Price who landed a mammoth contract in the offseason. Over his last ten outings, Price has allowed at least three runs in seven of those games including two outings with four, one with five and one with six. The other area the team needs to perform better is at the back end as they have had issues for most of the 2016 season.
Seattle Mariners: Much like the AL East, the AL West is a three team race to the finish. For the Mariners their biggest weakness has been their ability to score runs this season as they have been outscored 487-454 through August 8th. If this club wants to take home one of the final spots they will need to see some production from players like Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager.
Over their last ten games the duo have combined to pickup just 15 hits in 74 at bats. In that stretch, Seager has just one double with zero home runs to go along with zero runs batted in. Meanwhile Cruz has just two home runs and four home runs since July 29th.
The second key for the Mariners that could help them make a run is a dominant stretch from Felix Hernandez who just returned to the rotation. Since his return on July 20th, the Mariners are 3-1 in his four starts.