Now that the dust has settled on the trade deadline and we head into August, it is time to take a look at how the stretch run will play out. I’ll also give my predictions on the playoffs. These certainly won’t please everyone, but that’s ok, let me hear it on Twitter @jball0202.
Tampa Bay Rays: 94-68
Boston Red Sox: 93-69
New York Yankees: 90-72
Toronto Blue Jays: 90-72
Baltimore Orioles: 56-106
The top four teams in the AL East made moves to bolster their teams. The Rays just lost Tyler Glasnow to Tommy John Surgery and while that may seem like a big blow to Tampa Bay’s chances, he hasn’t pitched since June 14. They find a way to win and have been a prototype on how to use analytics. The Rays may be a true three outcome team, but it has led to being third in the AL in runs scored. They also have the best team ERA in the AL. That combo will get them to the top of the division. Tampa Bay has a pretty easy schedule the rest of the year but finishes up on the road at Houston and New York.
Boston didn’t do much at the deadline adding injured slugger Kyle Schwarber and reliever Hansel Robles. They hope to get Chris Sale back at some point and it is their pitching staff that has been the surprise this season. We all knew their lineup would put up runs, which they have, but many didn’t think the staff would hold it down. The bullpen especially has been lights out with Matt Barnes as the closer and Garrett Whitlock being a workhorse.
The Yankees added two big left-handed bats in Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo. They certainly need them. The Bombers have been anything but that this season averaging a hair over four runs per game and sitting in the middle of the pack in homers. The Yankees have had a tough time with the two teams they are chasing in the division as well. Against Boston and Tampa combined, New York is 10-19 and has been outscored 143-87. That will have to change if they hope to take the division.
Toronto added some pitching depth, acquiring starter Jose Berrios and relievers Brad Hand and Joakim Soria. Their offense is one of the best already leading the AL in HRs with 157. The Blue Jays also just activated impressive rookie Alek Manoah to add to their solid rotation. They will make a run and go 37-24 in their last 61 games, but it won’t be enough to win the division.
Chicago White Sox: 96-66
Cleveland Indians: 80-82
Detroit Tigers: 75-87
Kansas City Royals: 71-91
A stark opposite to the AL East, the AL Central had only one team buying at the deadline. The White Sox have a comfortable eight-game lead already and added Craig Kimbrel and Ryan Tepera to a stout bullpen. The addition of Cesar Hernandez helps fill the gap left by Nick Madrigal. Chicago has the luxury of setting up their rotation and resting many starters down the stretch. The fresh players and the undeniable talent on this team make them very dangerous in the playoffs.
Houston Astros: 97-65
Oakland A’s: 89-73
Los Angeles Angels: 80-82
Texas Rangers: 55-107
The Astros have scored more runs (577) than any team in baseball so they went out and strengthened their bullpen by adding Kendall Graveman, Yimi Garcia, Rafael Montero, and Phil Maton. They currently have the best record in baseball and a 5.5-game lead in the AL West. They will need to hold off the White Sox for the number one seed, and Oakland for the division, but should be able to do both.
The A’s bolstered their lineup, adding Starling Marte, Yan Gomes, and Josh Harrison. Their pitching has been excellent this season. They have an incredibly deep bullpen and have been the beneficiaries of good performances and health from Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea, Cole Irvin, and Frankie Montas. The question with this squad is if they can score enough runs to keep up with the bashers in the AL.
Atlanta Braves: 91-71
New York Mets: 90-72
Philadelphia Phillies: 87-75
Miami Marlins: 67-95
Washington Nationals: 66-96
Losing Ronald Acuna Jr. to a torn ACL could have irreparably damaged the Braves. They already lost Marcell Ozuna for an undetermined amount of time due to domestic violence charges and the hopes of getting starter Mike Soroka back were derailed as he ruptured his Achilles again. Atlanta went out and revamped their outfield bringing in Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, and Jorge Soler. They also brought in closer Richard Rodriguez to pair with lefty Will Smith at the back of the bullpen. Even without Acuna, this team can win the division.
The Mets just got Carlos Carrasco back which is a good sign and the hopes are that Noah Syndergaard can pitch out of the bullpen soon. New York’s pitching isn’t an issue, their hitting is. They acquired Javier Baez at the deadline to fill in for the injured Francisco Lindor, but the Mets have had trouble scoring runs this year and Baez doesn’t really move the needle much. With the two Wild Card teams likely coming from the NL West, the division crown is all that much more important.
The Phillies got the starter they needed in Kyle Gibson along with veteran Ian Kennedy to help out the bullpen. Let’s face it though, it isn’t enough. Philadelphia will fall short as the bullpen is still an issue. Even with Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Gibson at a solid top three, the Phillies just don’t have the depth the Braves and the Mets have to get through the stretch run.
Milwaukee Brewers: 94-68
Cincinnati Reds: 88-74
St. Louis Cardinals: 86-76
Chicago Cubs: 74-88
Pittsburgh Pirates: 65-97
The Brewers have a seven-game lead in the NL Central and that is unlikely to change. They have the best top 3 starters in the league with Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta. They all have a sub-2.50 ERA and a sub-1.000 WHIP. Add to that Adrian Houser, Eric Lauer, and Brett Anderson who all have ERAs below 4.00, and the staff is legit. They also added Eduardo Escobar to the lineup which shores up the infield. I don’t see Milwaukee falling off and they will be tough to beat in the playoffs.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 99-63
San Francisco Giants: 97-65
San Diego Padres: 95-67
Colorado Rockies: 61-101
Arizona Diamondbacks: 53-109
The Dodgers made the big splash of the deadline, landing Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. They have scored the most runs in the NL (547) and have the best ERA (3.21) to go along with it. They are simply the best team in the league and also have the added luxury of watching the Giants and Padres beat each other up 10 times in 21 days from September 13- October 3.
The Giants have been a huge surprise this season. Still owners of the best record in baseball, San Francisco has not fallen off as expected. Kevin Gausman is a Cy Young candidate. Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford have found the fountain of youth and then they bring in Kris Bryant. The Dodgers will win the division, but the Giants will not go quietly and grab the top Wild Card spot.
The Padres made an early move to get Adam Frazier from the Pirates. It almost looked like they would land Scherzer at the deadline as well. The Dodgers swooped in and the Padres were left getting Daniel Hudson and Jake Marisnick. Fernando Tatis Jr. has shoulder inflammation and while they can keep pace enough to land the final Wild Card spot, they will not have the strength to win the division.
American League Playoff Predictions
Yankees beat Blue Jays to get Second Wild Card spot
Red Sox beat Yankees in Wild Card Game
Astros beat Red Sox 3-2
White Sox beat Rays 3-1
Astros beat White Sox 4-2
National League Playoff Predictions
Giants beat Padres in Wild Card Game
Dodgers beat Giants 3-0
Brewers beat Braves 3-1
Dodgers beat Brewers 4-2
Dodgers beat Astros 4-2
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