Who are the two best teams in the American League this year? The answer has been clear for months now. Even though both the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers have hit a few rough patches in the second half — largely due to their injury-depleted starting rotations — these two clubs have sat as the NL’s top two seeds for the bulk of the year. Their success is rewarded with a bye through the Wild Card Round in the 2023 MLB playoffs. Here’s a quick look at each team.
National League teams with a bye
Atlanta has been a bit bumpier in the second half than their record suggests, largely because of a pitching staff with plenty of question marks — and Max Fried and Charlie Morton on the IL, though that was likely just to make sure they were healthy by the time the Division Series rolled around. Still, beyond Fried and Spencer Strider, there aren’t a ton of known quantities here, and the Braves’ pitching staff could eventually put them in a hole that even this Death Star of a lineup can’t dig out of.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers weathered quite the storm to get here, including the suspension of Julio Urias, season-ending injuries to Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin and the news that Walker Buehler won’t make it back from Tommy John rehab in time to return this season. Still, here they are, with arguably the game’s best one-two punch in Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, a diminished but still formidable Kershaw and some young arms looking to make their own October legacy.