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AL Wild Card update: Who will emerge from the wild, wild West?

Seven teams are fighting for three spots in the American League. We take a look at the Wild Card picture as the 2023 regular season nears its final month.

Julio Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners celebrates after the game against the Kansas City Royals at T-Mobile Park on August 27, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Mariners won 3-2. Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Hard as it is to believe, we’re about to reach the final month of the 2023 regular season — a 162-game marathon turned into a four-week sprint. It’s now or never, and the Wild Card races in both leagues are looking like they’ll go right down to the wire once again. The third Wild Card spot, first implemented last season, will give us six teams in the postseason on each side and byes for the top two seeds in each league. That means the regular-season stakes have never been higher, or involved more teams — and that added drama is palpable as we near the month of September.

So: Where does your favorite team stand? Below we’ll go over the AL Wild Card picture with up-to-the-minute standings and analysis.

AL Wild Card standings, August 28

1st Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays — 80-52, +6.0
2nd Wild Card: Texas Rangers — 73-57, —
3rd Wild Card: Houston Astros — 74-58, —

Toronto Blue Jays — 71-60, 2.5 GB
Boston Red Sox — 69-62, 4.5 GB

It’s worth noting before we get going that both the AL East and AL West are in flux in either direction: The Rays, having weathered a significant August storm, are just 2.0 games back of the Orioles (although three back in the loss column) for the East lead, while the fading Rangers still trail the Mariners in the AL West by a single game — with Houston two back in the loss column. (The less said about the AL Central, the better, but suffice to say that the Twins will be taking that division and no one else is remotely in the playoff picture.)

With an MLB-best 37-14 record since the start of July, the Mariners have gone from crashing the Wild Card party to snagging the No. 2 seed in the AL playoff bracket. Seattle didn’t do a ton at the deadline — in fact, they actually dealt away closer Paul Sewald, much to fans’ consternation — but with Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert and George Kirby anchoring the rotation and Julio Rodriguez on an all-time heater, they’ve been as good as anyone for nearly two months now. (It’s also worth noting that they’ve been feasting on the underbelly of their schedule, with series against the White Sox, Royals and A’s before a final month that features the Reds, Rays and Dodgers before closing with nine games against Texas and Houston. The Astros have the easiest schedule coming in, with an opponents’ winning percentage of .497, while Seattle is at .509 and the Rangers are at a brutal .519.)

With 60% of its Opening Day rotation lost for the season due to injury and Wander Franco’s status uncertain moving forward, it seemed like Tampa Bay was trending in the wrong direction to catch the O’s in the AL East and hold on to the top Wild Card spot. But the team has managed to stabilize things a bit on their recent West Coast trip (and by taking two of three from the Yankees this past weekend) and they banked so many wins early on that they still might catch Baltimore for the division should a young Orioles team stumble down the stretch.

All due respect to the Angels, the Blue Jays and Red Sox — just a combined 10-10 over their last 20 games — are the only teams really capable of crashing this party. Toronto has by far the easiest road of any contender, with an opponents’ winning percentage of .485 (and series against the Nationals, Rockies, Royals and A’s to start the month), while Boston checks in at .516.