Here are this week's MLB power rankings:
1. Houston Astros (94-50, No. 1 last week):
I know that offenses rule, but Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke pose a rough gauntlet for whatever team they take on in the playoffs. Oh, and they have a big-time offense, too.
2. New York Yankees (94-50, No. 2): The Yankees truly are savages in the box. They're very difficult to pitch to, in that they actively work on getting starters' pitch counts elevated. But I don't see a pitching staff capable of keeping games close against solid lineups.
3. Atlanta Braves (89-55, No. 3): While the Braves have staved off a Nationals charge on a couple of occasions, they probably hope they don't have to face Max Scherzer and Co. again. They seem hell-bent in finishing with the No. 1 overall seed in the NL.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (93-52, No. 4): The Dodgers are capable of matching up with any challenger. But president of baseball operations Andrew Freedman seems to constantly leave a stone or two unturned in pursuit of the Dodgers' first World Series win since 1988. Their fatal flaw is still the back end of 'pen, and there is no true Plan B behind Kenley Jansen.
5. Minnesota Twins (88-55, No. 6): The Twins have seemingly put the Indians in their rearview mirror, but they now have injuries to Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler complicating their chances for real run.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (81-62, No. 7): Since the All-Star break -- the last seven weeks -- the Cardinals are 35-17 and in command of the NL Central. Two reasons why: Dakota Hudson and Jack Flaherty, both of whom have grown up in the middle of the season. Flaherty has been other-worldly in his last 11 starts across 70.1 innings, with a 0.90 ERA and 0.72 WHIP. Dakota Hudson's last 18 starts have produced a club record of 15-3 (he has gone 12-3 in that span). His ERA (2.96) and WHIP (1.28) are very solid.
7. Washington Nationals (79-63, No. 5): Despite a great 3.5-month comeback, it's looking like the Nationals will have to get by the uncomfortable one-game play-in. It would be far more comfortable if they knew by the first couple of days in October that the real Max Scherzer would appear.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (86-59, No. 8): The Rays have finally gotten right-hander Tyler Glasnow back, which will be a big help even if his innings do figure to be limited. It also helps that outfielder Austin Meadows, who collapsed starting in early July to the point his average had dropped from .355 to .277, has come back with a vengeance. In Meadows' past 20 games, he's hitting .350/.400/.772 with nine doubles and eight homers.
9. Oakland Athletics (84-59, No. 10): The Athletics have already added A.J. Puk and Sean Manaea back to the pitching staff. Now comes word they'll add young phenom Jesus Lazardo.
Even so, it doesn't seem to be enough to help them get past a seven-game series if they get that far after a one-game play-in.
10. Chicago Cubs (76-66, No. 11): If it's fair to give Theo Epstein credit for the three World championships he has had a hand in, it seems equally fair to give a negative critique about how he handled the Cubs' closer situation this year. The Cubs signed Brandon Morrow to a hefty two-year deal, only to watch him predictably flame out due to arm injuries. That led Cubs to sign Craig Kimbrel to a three-year, $43 million contract in June. Kimbrel is now on the shelf with elbow inflammation.
11. Cleveland Indians (83-61, No. 9)
12. Arizona Diamondbacks (75-68, No. 15)
13. Philadelphia Phillies (74-68, No. 12)
14. Milwaukee Brewers (74-68, No. 14)
15. New York Mets (72-70, No. 16)
16. Boston Red Sox (76-67, No. 13)
17. Texas Rangers (72-73, No. 17)
18. San Francisco Giants (69-74, No. 18)
19. Cincinnati Reds (67-77, No. 21)
20. San Diego Padres (66-76, No. 19)
21. Los Angeles Angels (67-77, No. 20)
22. Chicago White Sox (63-80, No. 22)
23. Pittsburgh Pirates (62-81, No. 23)
24. Seattle Mariners (58-86, No. 24)
25. Colorado Rockies (60-84, No. 25)
26. Toronto Blue Jays (55-89, No. 26)
27. Kansas City Royals (53-91, No. 27)
28. Miami Marlins (51-91, No. 28)
29. Baltimore Orioles (46-97, No. 29)
30. Detroit Tigers (42-100, No. 30)