Media by Associated Press - St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jose Quintana (62) in the first inning during a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Media by Associated Press - St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jose Quintana (62) in the first inning during a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The finish line is in sight for the 2022 MLB season. For a majority of the season, the best races in baseball were in the Central Division in both the American and National Leagues.

With less than a month left in the regular season, both races still feature a little bit of drama. Let’s take a look at how those races can wrap up as the end of the season draws near.

Cardinals pulling away

The St. Louis Cardinals were only three games above .500 on July 9th. Times have changed over the past month.

St. Louis has won eight of its past ten games and opened up a 4.5-game lead on the Milwaukee Brewers for first place. The Cardinals now sit at -500 to win the division, while Milwaukee is +350.

The Cardinals were able to add important pitching depth to their team to support a strong lineup. St. Louis brought in Jordan Montgomery from the New York Yankees and Jose Quintana from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Both of their trade acquisitions have already made a big impact so far.

The Brewers went in the opposite direction at the deadline. Milwaukee dealt away closer Josh Hader and looked more like sellers at the trade deadline.

The Brewers are now in a fight just to make the playoffs. Milwaukee is two games out of the NL Wild Card race after leading the division for most of the season.

St. Louis should find a way to finish the job.

American League Central is still unclear

The Cleveland Guardians, who are +120, have taken advantage of Minnesota’s struggles since the All-Star break to build a 1.5-game lead in the division.

The Chicago White Sox (+175) were the preseason favorites who seem to be sleepwalking through the season. Minnesota (+255) is still in second place but doesn’t seem to have snapped out of a funk that started following the All-Star break.

All three teams in this race will likely only make the playoffs if they win the division. Capturing an AL Wild Card won’t likely be possible, which adds more intensity to this race. Chicago’s offense has struggled a lot on offense.

The White Sox don’t hit for power, ranking 28th in MLB with 102 home runs. Chicago only produces 4.21 runs per game, which ranks 20th. Cleveland also doesn’t hit for power, ranking 29th in the league with 94 home runs.

The Guardians have been much more consistent with their pitching than the White Sox. Cleveland has a 3.75 team ERA, which ranks ninth in MLB. Minnesota has the most threats of all three teams on defense. The Twins rank ninth in the league with 144 home runs.

Minnesota also scores 4.43 runs per game, which ranks 14 in the league. In a race that will come down to the wire, whatever team pitches the best will likely be able to earn a spot in the playoffs. At this time, it appears that Cleveland is best suited to do so.

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