Baseball-Mid Season Report Card”
We start the 2nd half of the season on Friday night, and it promises to be a dogfight for postseason playoff spots. Yes the Dodgers and Astros are dominating the two leagues, but the races are wide open virtually everywhere else, and that could mean 7-teams fighting for the wildcard slots heading into the final weeks of the season. The surprises and disappointments follow.
Arizona….A real bounce back season…Maybe health more than anything else…Zack Grienke is back to form…Robbie Ray is no longer a suspect-prospect but a solid frontline arm…Paul Goldschmidt remains a star…A ton of relievers…Wondering how good they would be if AJ Pollock could stay healthy and Yasmani Tomas could put together a 50-game spurt.
Rockies…Some first half by Bud Black…In first place for an extended chunk of the season, though a June swoon knocked them down a notch….But Black did this with half a pitching staff…Now Jon Gray his ace is back from the foot injury, and there is hope Chad Bettis might return to from cancer treatments…Big question, can they continue to play well with half a season to go?
Yankees…Aaron Judge has driven them up the standings, but they have spurts where lots of other guys can hit home runs too…They stayed in the pennant race despite a bunch of nagging health issues with pitching, and some struggles out of the bullpen…Don’t think we have seen the complete Yankees team yet.
Astros…They’ve been building towards this, and are now on a pace for 109-wins-some accomplishment when you consider they lost 305-games over 3-years while tearing the franchise down….The batting order will mash, and that could makeup for some shortcomings because of injuries to the pitching staff…They hit everywhere, from Minute Maid Park to your yard too.
Nationals…Lots of firepower and some solid starting pitching…Bounceback year for Ryan Zimmerman has been a plus and the emergence of Treu Turner has been special…Look for them to make a deal to get a key player at the trading deadline too…In need of a reliever and maybe an insurance policy starter.
Cubs…They are surely not what we saw last year…The pitching staff looks worn out, from Jon Lester to Jake Arietta to John Lackey…All those innings may have taken a toll….Yes the Rizzo-Bryant chunk of the batting order can be dangerous, but it’s not as dominant as a year ago…Something is missing-chemistry-leadership-fire…Ben Zobrist-Jason Heyward-guys who left…it’s just not the same team.
Red Sox…Yes they are chasing for top spot in the AL-East, but they miss David Ortiz…and David Price and Rick Porcello are not dominating as they were a year ago…Still time for them to rally to join Chris Sale for what could be the best Big 3-in anyone’s rotation…The Bosox can slug..can they pitch?
Giants..Maybe we should have seen this coming…Pitching staff falters…..Injuries tear apart the lineup….no next young star coming out of the farm system…But to go from 3-World Series rings to dead last in the division is a shocker….May need to rebuild shortly.
Mets…The Tabloids are going crazy about the organization, the leaders, the players, the training staff…but this failure is nothing more than injury driven….They’ve had 6-of their top 7-pitchers go down with injuries and suspensions…David Wright never came back…and nagging injuries to key bats have withered the roster…Wait till next year to get all the arms back on the mound.
Orioles…All bats, no arms, and a prime example of what happens when this team stops hitting…Bump in the road for Buck Showalter, though they have to come up with more arms if Chris Tillman is no longer what he used to be because of ailments…Still think they have a hot streak in them, just don’t think they have enough pitching.
Cardinals…For the first time in a long time, just not the same franchise…Lots of mileage of the pitching staff….maybe too many miles on veteran everyday players…Injuries to Dex Fowler, the loss of free agent Matt Holliday and pitching ailments have taken a toll.
(TEAMS IN TOWN)
Dodgers….Spectacular sprint to the All Star break, winning 26-of-30, and doing it with ailments to Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner….Enough starting pitching to compliment the (14-2) Clayton Kershaw….Still no consistent contribution from Yasiel Puig, but that is off set by the Young Lions that Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager have become…Might there be a trade still to come to add another arm to that staff?
Angels…Drifting thru mediocrity…That’s what the franchise has become, saddled with the Albert Pujols contract and the wasted money on past big deals that blewup in their face, Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson. For them to hang around .500 is somewhat of a tribute with Mike Trout having missed 39-games with injury…Likely no sighting of Matt Shoemaker and Garrett Richards in the coming months and who knows about their future health either? A faltering farm system hasn’t helped .
Padres….They had a horrible start, but since have gone (23-20), with an array of young kids showing flashes in the lineup…but offense on a night to night basis is a challenge….The run differential is a disgrace….and now they seem prepared to deal away what quality pitching they have on the roster…Brad Hand-Brandon Mauer-and the journeyman starters….I projected (60-102), and it could be worse if they dump all their pitching, but they have building blocks with Perdomo-Lamet-Renfroe-Hedges-Meyers-Cordoba-Margot. It’s a starting point..
The second half starts on Friday. Enjoy it.