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Checking in with the AL West: Rangers continue to climb, Angels continue to fall, ROY race updates

Also your weekly playoff odds update

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Mariners are currently on the AL Central part of their ALs Central and East sandwich schedule, bookended by the crusty old loaf of the Astros on one side and the soggy white bread of the Angels on the other. Truthfully, I might skip over this bad boy next week because I have a feeling we will be well and truly sick of the AL West after a five (5!) game series with the Angels to close out this homestand, but after doing one of these a week I find myself compelled to the once-weekly ritual of looking at the playoff odds on FanGraphs. No more! But also no less, than this:

Despite winning the series against the Astros, a thing I still cannot quite believe, the Mariners sunk back down into the single-digit depths after losing an entirely winnable series against the Red Sox. Remember last year, when the Mariners tanked their home series against the Red Sox late in the season and essentially foisted themselves out of playoff contention? Déjà ewwww. On the flip side, the Mariners managed to set the Astros off on a modest not-hot stretch (also known as my junior high years, tip your waitresses and try the prime rib), which has pulled their playoff odds down by almost an entire half a percent. Heady stuff, I tell you. Other than that, everything here is basically the same except for the continued descent of the Angels. It’s the closest to heaven that they’ll ever be.

Houston Astros (38-24)

You know the sowing and reaping meme? That’s me, but with finding a new weekly series to write (haha yes! Fun! This rules!) and realizing that I have to write about the Astros every single week (no!), which involves thinking about the Astros every week, even when we don’t have to actively think about them again until late July. Anyway, the Astros are doing Astros things, although they did lose a series against the Marlins after losing to the Mariners? And will be trying to win a series against the Rangers today. Next up for them is the White Sox and then nine straight games against the New York teams, which could be interesting. I know the other thing you care about is the Jeremy Peña vs. Julio ROY race. The two remain very close in overall numbers, with Peña ahead on the season-long numbers still due to Julio’s slow start. Julio finished May with a wRC+ of 152, while Peña had 151; so far in June, Julio is off to a better start on the month than Peña, with a wRC+ of 144 to Peña’s 122. On Monday Peña apparently hurt his hand diving after a ball in a game against the Rangers and returned to Houston for further testing, missing Tuesday’s contest, but it’s unclear yet if the injury is serious or if the Astros were operating under an abundance of caution.

Texas Rangers (29-32)

After Houston, the rest of the AL West is all bunched up, with the Rangers, Angels, and Mariners all separated by a fairly tight margin, although the Rangers have currently pulled ahead of the swan-diving Angels. The Rangers have had some bad luck lately, having to play a doubleheader on the road in Cleveland because the Midwest baseball teams continue to Not Understand Roofs and losing that series, but bounced back to win the series against the White Sox. They finish up at Houston guaranteed at least not a sweep and then get to feast on the Tigers for four whole games, so their lead could be more sizable at this time next week.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, Disneyland, USA (29-34)

Assuming Texas takes care of business against Detroit in their four-game series, the Mariners and Angels will decide who gets third place in the AL West (for now) and who has to sit next to the icky Athletics on the bus over this upcoming series, which is exciting but also definitely makes me feel like I need to lie down in a dark quiet room for several hours. After boatracing the Mariners early on, the Angels have fallen on some heavily (gleefully) documented hard times, with times getting no easier with a recent four-game stretch against Boston, the Mets, and the Dodgers, resulting in three straight series losses* (*manifesting a little here, to be fair the Dodgers “highway” series because there’s nothing California baseball teams love more than cars is a two-gamer and they’ve only lost the first one with another game to play today). Should the Angels come out on top, they have the opportunity to put a little more room between their Marissa Cooper selves and the Mariners’ gritty Ryan Atwood, as they’ll get a chance to beat up on the pathetic Royals for a three-game series before locking horns with Seattle again.

Oakland Athletics (21-42)

Oakland continues to make me sad, then mad when I remember the Mariners losing a home series to them, then sad again because the good people of Oakland, as annoying as those drums are, don’t deserve this. Oakland’s .333 winning percentage has now drawn them perilously close to the Worst Team in Baseball, the Kansas City Royals, who are at .328 but coming off a brutal stretch where they’ve been tormented at the hands of Houston, Toronto, San Francisco, and [checks notes] uh, Baltimore. Okay, the Royals are bad. I don’t know if they’re worse or Oakland is worse but I know the Royals are at least trying to win with Bobby Witt Jr. and company, although that might be worse? The true worst team in all the land could be decided after the Royals and A’s meet six times over the next two weeks.

Play of the week:

This Rangers-Astros series has actually been wild, with the first two games featuring late rallies and dramatic plays. I admire Adolis García and can’t appreciate when it’s a Mariners batter he’s robbing a homer against, but when it’s Yordan Álvarez? Absolutely. (As a bonus, this catch bails out Taylor Hearn, who I also like and feel guilty rooting against when the Mariners play the Rangers.)