With the Olympics over and football still several weeks away from starting, all eyes will be on MLB action over the next several weeks.
It appears that every division title, except for the AL and NL Central (White Sox and Brewers), is going to come down to the wire, which should make for an exciting last couple of months of the season.
Let’s take a look at the upcoming weeks and the highlights from the past week of games:
Team USA had an incredible run to make it to the Gold Medal Game where they fell to Japan 2-0. The USA squad was filled with minor league players as MLB teams refused to send their major league players to Japan.
Manager Mike Scioscia lauded the effort by the US squad saying, “Our guys played under such different circumstances with each game being a game 7. We got within a couple of breaks of winning the Gold Medal.”
It was the first baseball Gold Medal for Japan as they used five pitchers to combine for the shutout.
Bryce Harper had a bit of a disappointing start to his Phillies tenure by hitting slightly above .260 in Philadelphia’s first couple of years. However, Harper finally looks comfortable and has been on a tear over the last month. Harper is hitting .369, with 7 home runs, and has a .480 on-base percentage since July 6.
Harper now has a .302 average on the season with 21 HRs and a .413 OBP, which has put him in MVP conversations, and currently sits slightly behind Fernando Tatis Jr by oddsmakers to win the NL MVP.
Harper has helped claw the Phillies into 1st place in the NL East, as they sit 2 games up over the Braves and Mets.
Votto had an incredible six-game Home Run streak which came up just short of the MLB record of 7. Votto, who is 37 and a likely future Hall of Famer, has had a resurgent year after several years of declining play.
Votto won the NL Player of the Week Award and the Player of the Month Award for his incredible performance.
Votto is currently hitting .273 on the season and has the Reds in the thick of the Wild Card race.
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Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are 8-2 in their last ten and have climbed into 1st place in the competitive AL EAST as they look to get to back-to-back World Series. The Rays consistent performance is quite impressive considering they have the 26th lowest payroll in baseball at $69 million compared to the Yankees ($203M) and Red Sox ($182M).
The New York Mets have sat atop the NL East leaderboard for the majority of the season, but in the last couple of weeks, they are 2-8, and the Phillies have won 8 in a row as the teams Phillies and Braves are now sitting atop the NL EAST with the Mets sitting 2.5 games back.
The Phillies swept the Mets over the weekend as the Mets continue to struggle without Ace Jacob Degrom.
The Phillies have a favorable schedule over the next month compared to the Mets, who face the NL west contenders-the Giants and Dodgers a combined 13 times in a row.
Dodgers vs. Phillies
The Dodgers and Phillies face off three times this week with the following pitching matchups:
Tuesday 8/10: Max Scherzer vs. Aaron Nola
Wednesday 8/11: David Price vs. Kyle Gibson
Thursday 8/12 Juan Urias vs. Undecided
With both teams battling for playoff positioning within their respective divisions, this series should bring a playoff feel to it in Mid August. Keep an eye out for the Bryce Harper vs. Max Sherzer matchup, as former Nationals teammates go head to head.