1. Chicago Cubs (1 last week): Challenge facing skipper Joe Maddon: Limiting wear and tear on starters while keeping them dialed in for October.
2. Texas Rangers (2): Colby Lewis’ return from disabled list couldn’t be more timely — rotation was pummeled last week at Safeco Field.
3. Washington Nationals (3): When Stephen Strasburg grimaced after throwing a slider the other night, manager Dusty Baker “did a lot of praying.”
4. Cleveland Indians (4): Former M’s outfielder Abraham Almonte has been all-around energizer for Tribe, but positive PED test in February renders him ineligible for postseason.
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5. Los Angeles Dodgers (6): Brock Stewart was fourth Dodgers rookie pitcher to start in four games on Wednesday.
6. Boston Red Sox (7): Ascent to first place related to David Price winning six consecutive decisions since Aug. 14.
7. Toronto Blue Jays (5): Powerful lineup let Jays down last week during three-game sweep at hands of Yankees.
8. Baltimore Orioles (8): Wade Miley’s precarious rotation spot will be on the line Monday against Red Sox.
9. Detroit Tigers (9): Justin Verlander has made a career-best 11 consecutive quality starts since All-Star break.
10. New York Yankees (13): Even if Yanks fail to sneak into playoffs, Joe Girardi a favorite for AL Manager of the Year.
11. New York Mets (15): Four years after painfully awkward season with Jets, former quarterback/outfield prospect Tim Tebow belongs to Mets.
12. San Francisco Giants (10): Is second-half free fall a consequence of Aug. 1 trade of widely admired third baseman Matt Duffy?
13. Houston Astros (11): Since going 1-for-32 in his debut, touted rookie Alex Bregman has been team’s best hitter.
14. St. Louis Cardinals (12): After 68 home games, Cards were a baffling 30-38 at Busch Stadium.
15. Kansas City Royals (14): Going into weekend, Kendrys Morales’ 26 homers were most by a Royals player since Billy Butler hit 29 in 2012.
16. Seattle Mariners (18): Never, ever too late for a season-high winning streak of more than six games … until, like, it’s too late.
17. Pittsburgh Pirates (17): Mirroring J.A. Happ’s 2015 turnaround in Pittsburgh, Ivan Nova has been lights out since Bucs acquired him in deadline deal with Yankees.
18. Miami Marlins (18): Fading Fish preparing to shut down ace Jose Fernandez, 160 innings into team-imposed cap of 180.
19. Colorado Rockies (19): Second baseman DJ LeMahieu bidding to become Rockies’ fifth NL batting champ in past 10 years.
20. Chicago White Sox (20): Reasonable contract controlling 27-year old Chris Sale will tempt Sox to put ace on market for what a former AL executive calls “a boatload.”
21. Los Angeles Angels (22): M’s will throw last pitch of season to Mike Trout this week. Champagne would be appropriate for postgame celebration.
22. Milwaukee Brewers (23): Top prospect Orlando Arcia has shaken off career-opening slump.
23. Philadelphia Phillies (21): Phils will be in market for veteran free agent to provide positional versatility and clubhouse leadership.
24. Oakland Athletics (24): Released by Seattle in 2011, reliever Chris Smith, 35, is back in majors after six-year hiatus that included re-enrollment at UC Riverside.
25. Tampa Bay Rays (25): Rays flirting with .500 record in second half, but still waiting for first winning month of season.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks (26): Manager Chip Hale on schedule calling for 17 of final 23 games against playoff contenders: “You want to give the teams that are in it the best you have.”
27. San Diego Padres (28): With 82nd defeat Wednesday, Padres assured themselves of sixth consecutive losing season.
28. Cincinnati Reds (27): Versatile Jose Peraza, 22, has earned consideration for full-time position role in 2017.
29. Atlanta Braves (29): Braves scored 15 runs during three-game road series last week against Nationals and got swept.
30. Minnesota Twins (30): Going into weekend, second baseman Brian Dozier had 24 homers since All-Star break — eight more than anybody else.