Week Ahead: How will the NL West be won?

Week Ahead: How will the NL West be won?

By the end of the week ahead, the Major League Baseball season will officially enter late August, and these are crucial times for teams all over the American and National Leagues. Soon we'll be in September. Soon the final homestretch kicks in and we'll see who has what it takes to play in October.

The Dodgers are feeling it, with one pitcher after another getting banged up. The latest had Sunday starter Brett Anderson coming off the disabled list with back problems only to pitch one inning and hurt his wrist. Los Angeles already has an entire rotation's worth of pitchers on the DL in Clayton Kershaw, Brandon McCarthy, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Bud Norris, but when it comes down to the late-season nitty gritty, there are no excuses. You've got to find a way to hang in the standings.

Los Angeles is doing exactly that. Despite its painful loss to the Pirates on Sunday, its still within a game of the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants, and the perennial rivals are battling in one of the tightest races in baseball.

This week, the Giants might have the better draw, with seven home games on the docket. San Francisco will host the Pirates for three games and the Mets for four as it tries to pull away from the hurting Dodgers. Meanwhile, Los Angeles must travel to Philadelphia and Cincinnati for two important three-game series on the road while trying to figure out what on earth it'll do to get solid starting pitching on a nightly basis.

"These are circumstances we've got to deal with," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Pence's solo home run

Meanwhile, in the AL East, a race closer than Dodgers-Giants is in full dramatic flight. The Toronto Blue Jays handled the Houston Astros on Sunday to keep their lead in the division, but the Baltimore Orioles stormed back from a deficit to stun the Giants in San Francisco, with Jonathan Schoop's ninth-inning homer the most memorable moment.

This week, the Blue Jays play three games against the Yankees in the Bronx before heading West for a weekend three-gamer against the Angels in Anaheim. The Orioles get to stay in the comfy confines of Camden Yards, but they've got six games against very challenging opponents, with two against the Red Sox followed by a four-game Thursday-to-Sunday set against the contending Astros.

"All year long, we've been able to come back," Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said after the big win on Sunday. "It's been a long, grinding road trip, and to see a happy flight home is good."

Elsewhere around the Majors, the Miami Marlins will begin to regroup on Monday following the shocking and deflating news that slugger Giancarlo Stanton could very well be out for the season after suffering a Grade 3 left groin strain. Talk that Miami might try to sign Alex Rodriguez might have just been rumor on Sunday, but the club's president of baseball operations, Michael Hill, certainly didn't dismiss the notion.

Now the Marlins once again have to forge onward in the unforgiving world known as the Major League Baseball regular-season schedule. Their week ahead has them playing seven road games, with four at Cincinnati followed by three at Pittsburgh.

"In a long season, things happen," Hill said. "Things always happen. That's what [manager] Donnie [Mattingly] talks about with his team, that over the course of 162 games, things are going to happen, and we have to have the wherewithal in that clubhouse and the depth in our system to try to absorb whatever comes our way.

"Obviously, [Stanton] is a big part of our club, and we've dealt with a lot already. We'll deal with this, and we'll get through it, and we'll be OK."

That's the prevailing attitude for any winning club, healthy or not. And it will carry 10 teams into October.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.