Not every race in Major League Baseball's season looks all that interesting. For instance, the Houston Astros have a 16.5-game lead in the American League West heading into Monday. Both Seattle and Texas are playing near .500 baseball, but the deficit to overcome simply looks too great in that division. The races in the National League East and the National League West both look futile too as Washington and Los Angeles both hold double-digit leads at the time of this writing. In each division, the chances of a race developing only look mild at best.

However, there do appear to be some pennant races and wild card races taking shape in other parts of the standings.

In the NL Central division, the Chicago Cubs have poked theirs head above .500 following a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles. The sweep included a win for Jose Quintana, a player that Chicago recently traded for. That's a positive sign for a club that has struggled around .500 in the opening months of the season. Milwaukee could find themselves under pressure soon and their upcoming games promise to highlight whether they are for real or not.

NL Wild Card will heat up

In the NL's Wild Card race, nothing looks too interesting at the moment. However, the Colorado Rockies have slipped up over the last month.

They are still well ahead of the competition for the 2nd Wild Card, but Atlanta seems to have more substance to them now than they did early in the season. It will be interesting to see the standings in mid-August, especially if Colorado keep coming back to .500 while Atlanta, Chicago, and even Pittsburgh continue to improve their records.

Looking at the American League

In the American League, two divisions might see hot races down the stretch. The potential is big, because each of the AL East and the AL Central divisions appear to have three teams in the mix. In the east, the Boston Red Sox are the front runners, but they only lead the Yankees and Rays by 3.5 games and 3 games, respectively.

Meanwhile, in the AL Central division, the Cleveland Indians nurse slim leads over Kansas City and Minnesota. Each of those clubs is within 2 games of the lead at the time of this writing.

When some teams invariably fall behind in their divisional races, all that will do is make the Wild Card races hot. At present seven teams are in the picture for the two spots. The Wild Card holders are New York and Tampa Bay a the time of this writing, but Minnesota, KC, Seattle, Texas, and Los Angeles are right in the mix -- within 3.5 games.

When it comes to the Wild Card race, sometimes a team could look more into the race than they actually are. For instance, the Orioles and Blue Jays -- the two teams that contested the Wild Card game last year -- are each 5.5 games back of the 2nd spot.

That might make them look like they are in the mix, but with so many teams in front of them, the situation is more dire than the game deficit suggests. When you have to hope to outplay half a dozen teams, the matter gets very complicated. Each of these two clubs, plus the ones below them, might turn into sellers soon.

When is the non-waiver trade deadline?

A key date to keep in mind in terms of watching who makes a move and who doesn't is July 31st. That's the non-waiver trade deadline for Major League Baseball. Teams that have faded often look to dump salary for prospects. Meanwhile, teams that want to compete look to load up with stars from teams that essentially wave the white flag.