Wednesday, June 19, 2024

MLB power rankings: Yankees, Dodgers deliver October-worthy appetizer

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Even with one superstar missing, a Los Angeles DodgersNew York Yankees showdown still lit up the Bronx.

With Juan Soto sidelined by a balky wrist, the bicoastal battle between Los Angeles and New York nonetheless fulfilled the dreams of both fans and TV executives who rolled out all three showdowns on national TV platforms. And while the Yankees avoided a sweep in a Sunday night comeback win over the Dodgers, it simply whetted the appetite for a longer engagement come October.

Oh, USA TODAY Sports’ power rankings will tell you it’s not that simple.

This was a 1-4 matchup, with both teams needing to vault the 2 and 3 between them − the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles, respectively, to make that happen.

And, of course, there’s always the threat of an utterly mediocre team rising up to spoil best-laid October plans, such as the nine teams under .500 in the National League that are nonetheless holding or within three games of a wild-card spot.

Yet from Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s two-hit, seven-inning gem Friday night to Aaron Judge’s icing on the cake Sunday night, it’s clear the game would benefit from the first World Series meeting of Dodger Blue and Yankee pinstripes since 1981. There’s just this matter of nearly 100 games and three rounds of playoffs in the interim.

A look at this week’s rankings:

1. New York Yankees (-)

  • All Trent Grisham does is hit go-ahead home runs.

2. Philadelphia Phillies (-)

3. Baltimore Orioles (-)

  • Connor Norby the latest blue-chip infielder to join the big league party.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (+1)

  • Tyler Glasnow leads NL pitchers with 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

5. Cleveland Guardians (-1)

  • After two seasons and 242 at-bats, Brayan Rocchio finally goes deep.

6. Kansas City Royals (+2)

  • Overcame an 8-0 deficit to beat Mariners.

7. Milwaukee Brewers (-1)

  • Robert Gasser seeking third opinion on injured elbow, hoping to avoid surgery.

8. Atlanta Braves (-1)

  • 2-6 against Washington this year.

9. Seattle Mariners (-)

  • Ty France suffers a heel fracture, so Tyler Locklear summoned to replace him.

10. Minnesota Twins (-)

Royce Lewis is back, perhaps the salve the lineup needs.

11. San Diego Padres (-)

  • Who needs Juan Soto when you have Jurickson Profar?

12. Boston Red Sox (-)

  • Splitting four games against White Sox is like turning down free money.

13. Texas Rangers (-)

  • Max Scherzer throws five shutout innings in rehab start.

14. Detroit Tigers (-)

  • Zach McKinstry pitched in consecutive games. He’s a position player.

15. Toronto Blue Jays (+5)

  • Kevin Gausman tosses just the third shutout in AL this year.

16. San Francisco Giants (-)

  • Luis Matos sent to minors, but Heliot Ramos (.314 average, .938 OPS) is thriving.

17. Cincinnati Reds (+6)

  • Digging out and nearing .500, which they haven’t reached since May 3.

18. Chicago Cubs (-3)

  • Nico Hoerner may try to play through small hand fracture.

19. Tampa Bay Rays (-2)

  • Harold Ramirez designated for assignment as offense searches for answers.

20. Washington Nationals (-2)

Sean Doolittle fills in at pitching coach, a nice nod to his behind-the-scenes work.

  • Andre Pallante seizing this shot at rotation spot.
  • Jake McCarthy boosts OBP to .354.
  • Jared Jones, Paul Skenes beating Dodgers on consecutive nights a dream come true.
  • And now Kyle Tucker is on the injured list.
  • Jose Iglesias wasn’t expected to be a bright spot, but hey, take ’em where you get ’em.
  • Seems like they’re tanking the Vegas deal as well as they tanked on the field.
  • Hard-throwing reliever Ben Joyce back in the bigs.
  • No. 1 prospect Adael Amador singles on first pitch of first at-bat in debut.
  • Ryan Weathers hits IL with finger problem.
  • Pitcher Drew Thorpe, traded for Juan Soto and then Dylan Cease, set for Tuesday debut.

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