We’re less than a week from the All-Star break, so let’s take a look at how things are shaping up for teams that would like to make a playoff run in the second half.
Wild Card Play-in: Orioles vs. Angels
LA is playing well, and Mike Trout has a lot to do with that. They’ve gone 38-21 (as of July 2nd) since he was called up. Baltimore has held on longer than I expected, but much of that has to do with the fact that Tampa’s injuries have caught up with them, and Boston just hasn’t been able to play consistently well.
ALDS: Wild Card vs. Rangers and White Sox vs. Yankees
The Yankees are the only team anywhere close to giving the Rangers any competition for the best record in the league, thanks to Cano’s spectacular last couple weeks (which is bringing his name into the MVP conversation). The White Sox aren’t playing great baseball, but are fortunate they don’t play in a good division.
In the hunt: Red Sox (1/2 game behind Baltimore), Rays (1.5 games behind Baltimore), Indians (1.5 games behind Chicago).
Could turn things around: Tigers – amazingly are just 3 games out of first place, despite their poor record (39-40). Royals – also benefiting from playing in a poor division, and their youngsters are really starting to hit well. And, on top of that, they have the #2 outfield prospect batting .329 with 27 homers and a 1.096 OPS. If he gets called up and plays well, they could actually compete, even though they’re 6 games behind Chicago at this point. Blue Jays – just 2.5 games behind the Orioles (good enough for last place in the AL East), but if their pitching could somehow catch up with their potent offense, they could be legit contenders. The extra Wild Card team has really made the American League much more competitive this year.
Wild Card Play-in: Mets/Pirates vs. Dodgers
You gotta feel sorry for LA – they were easily the best team in the NL, and then were just completely overcome with injury after injury. They’re still in it, but they really are going to need Kemp and Ethier back in the lineup if they want to play in October. Mets and Pirates are both nice stories, and I just hope they both are competing in September.
NLDS: Wild Card vs. Nationals and Reds vs. Giants
Strasburg and Harper are exciting players that are worth the price of admission, and Gio Gonzalez was a fantastic pick-up in the offseason for Washington. The Giants have seized control of their division thanks to the Dodgers tailing off, and the Reds are leading a mediocre division . . . for now.
In the hunt: Braves (1 game behind New York), Cardinals (1.5 games behind Pittsburgh)
Could turn things around: Ummm . . . . maybe the Diamondbacks? They’re the only team I haven’t already mentioned that doesn’t have a losing record. But, I don’t really see any indication they’re heading in the right direction, even though they’re only 3 games out of the Wild Card. The same goes for other potential contenders like the Marlins (4 games out), and Brewers (6 games out). Maybe with the right additions before the trade deadline, one of these teams could make a run. But, otherwise, it’s mainly the previously mentioned 8 teams in contention.