Cover Photo: Jerritt Clark/Getty Images
Even the best teams racing toward the MLB Playoffs have question marks and weaknesses swirling around them in early September. However, anything can happen at the drop of a dime in this crazy game of baseball.
Here's the biggest question mark and/or vulnerability surrounding each of the 12 ball clubs making a playoff push right now.
12. Arizona Diamondbacks
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Batting Average Consistency: The biggest question mark surrounding the Arizona Diamondbacks in September would have to be whether or not this team will actually make the playoffs in the first place. If the answer to that dilemma finds the Diamondbacks in October, they have to be worried about a lineup currently batting .235 as a whole. That's worse than all but three other clubs in the MLB this season.
11. Los Angeles Dodgers
John McCoy/Getty Images
Kenley Jansen's Health: Similar to the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers have to be most concerned with first earning a playoff spot come October. LA is only 1.5 games back on the Rockies for the NL West right now, compared to 3.5 games for Arizona. If the Dodgers make it, their biggest concern has to be star closer Kenley Jansen's health with recent trouble from a heart issue. Without the backing of a healthy Jansen to close out games against playoff-caliber lineups, the Dodgers are going to struggle to battle back late.
10. Colorado Rockies
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Run Differential: The Colorado Rockies are the only current playoff team that doesn't have a positive run differential at this point in the season. The Rockies are currently sitting dead even in run differential, which is also a little misleading as Colorado used a 13-2 slugfest over the Arizona Diamondbacks last night to improve from -11 to a zero split. That sort of line won't have the Rockies lasting long in the playoffs. If they make it, of course.
9. St. Louis Cardinals
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Batting Average: Even though the Cardinals are currently within the 10-team MLB playoff cut for an NL Wild Card berth, St. Louis has an alarmingly mediocre team batting average of .250. That's the 15th worst, or 15th best in the MLB, depending on how you look at it. Regardless, nothing about that stat screams "playoff powerhouse."
8. Atlanta Braves
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Bullpen/Closer Role: None of the Atlanta Braves top three bullpen options currently have an ERA lower than 3.12 this season, with A.J. Minter (3.36 ERA), Dan Winkler (4.56) and Sam Freeman (3.12) averaging a collective 3.68 ERA between them. The impending return of the No. 1 option in Arodys Vizcaíno should be a huge boost in that department, but that is already taking longer than expected.
7. Cleveland Indians
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Pitching Rotation: For a team with names like Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger listed as the teams top three starters, this one may come as somewhat of a surprise. But when you take a closer look, the Indians have surrendered the 13th-best batting average against as a unit at .244.
6. Milwaukee Brewers
Jeff Curry/Getty Images
Scoring Runs: Out of all 10 current MLB playoff teams between both leagues, the Brewers have the fifth-best record, but also the worst run-scoring offense overall. Milwaukee has scored just 656 runs this season, and for some perspective, that's more than 100 fewer runs than first-place Boston.
5. Chicago Cubs
Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Top-Heavy Starting Pitching: The recent pickup of Cole Hamels and his insanely dominant start since putting on a Chicago Cubs uniform has certainly shifted a lot of the narrative and spotlight away from the disparity in Chicago's starting rotation. Outside of Hamel's incredible numbers with the Cubs, Jon Lester has the second-best ERA in the starting rotation at 3.57.
4. Oakland Athletics
Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images
Replacing Sean Manaea: A's starting pitcher Sean Manaea is on the DL thanks to rotator cuff tendinitis, forcing Oakland to play without him since Aug. 24. Manager Bob Melvin admitted that he believes there's less than a 50-percent chance Manaea returns to Oakland's rotation before the end of the season, and that's going to be a huge hole to fill for other Athletics pitchers.
3. New York Yankees
Adam Hunger/Getty Images
Injuries: The New York Yankees have been without their best hitter and their closer for some time now. Right fielder Aaron Judge has been out of the lineup since July 26 without any immediate return in sight. All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman has also been on the DL with left knee tendinitis since Aug. 22, and he may not return at all this season. New York has battled their way into a current AL Wild Card spot without those two, but running the table in the playoffs is highly unlikely without at least one of them back in October.
2. Houston Astros
Home Run Hitting: Despite boasting the second-best record in the MLB, the Houston Astros haven't seen a ton of balls flying out of the park for a team of their caliber this season. The Astros do have an impressive 714 total runs on the year, but they've only smacked the 10th-most homers (185) on their way there.
1. Boston Red Sox
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Downward Trend: Even though the Boston Red Sox are heading into October as the top dog in either league, they're far from invincible. Boston may have an impressive 98-46 overall record, but their last 20-game split leaves them at an ugly 10-10 (.500) record. With a 162-game regular season that boils down into a best-of-five playoff series in the first round, you never want to go into October on a downward spiral.
Get $20 with your first deposit on FanDuel. Join Now.
David Hayes is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, David Hayes also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username DavidWHayes. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.