Are the Mariners Contending?

The Seattle Mariners are actually contending, I know, the 66-71 Mariners are just going to do what they always do, drop a vital series and this article becomes useless. I probably would agree with you if you thought that, but something is different about this team, maybe it’s the September call ups and this is just a good ride for a short time. Maybe it’s the hot bats of Trumbo, Seager, and Cano combined with a solid closer taking over in Tom Wilhelmsen. Whatever it is; they need to ride what it is that is making them win and take it all the way to October.

They will be opening up a 4 game series against the second place (Wild Card and A.L. West) Texas Ranger tonight, and with the Rangers coming off a series lost in LA, they look to bounce back from that so they can regain some of the ground they just lost. What gives them the sense that they will be fine is just how poor Seattle plays in Safeco Field (29-36) in contrast to just how well Texas plays on the road this year (39-32).

In a recent 13 game stretch, the Mariners have gone 9-4 in that stretch, improving their record to 66-71. The Mariners have not been over .500 since May 26th. With less then a month of baseball left; Seattle doesn’t have any room to lose, but they have the biggest and most unsuspecting chance ahead of them; Seattle will face Texas 7 times, Anaheim 6 times, Oakland and Houston 3 times. Currently, Seattle is 9 games behind Houston, and just beat them in Houston, which is really hard to do, let alone was the first team to take Dallas Keuchel yard in Houston(Mark Trumbo). I’m not saying they are going to money ball their way into 1st place in the A.L. West, but they have a great opportunity to make the post season via the wild card.

It’ the strength of schedule for the remaining wild card teams that start to make you think; Seattle might have the best chance to do something here.

Texas faces Houston and Seattle 14 times between the two, and play two series against Oakland and one against Detroit and finish the season against Anaheim.

Anaheim faces Houston and Seattle 6 times and will open a series against the Dodgers tonight; they will also play against fellow wild card contenders Minnesota for a 4-game series. They will then finish the season against Texas.

Baltimore who is sliding and sliding fast, will have two series against New York, one four game series against Toronto, 2 against Boston, one against Washington and a four game series against Tampa Bay.

Chicago, Cleveland and Minnesota will face off against each other 5 times for the rest of the season, making the change of positions between the three in the wild card race so fluctuating that unless one of them run the table they will just keep beating each other up and remaining where they stand. They also will play Kansas City and Detroit 5 times between the three as well.

When you balance the schedule’s of all the remaining wild card teams, and look at the Mariners, who haven’t lost in September so far, you can’t help but think, something special could really happen if the Mariners don’t cool down.

http://SportsRants.com

Predicting The 2015 World Series

Prior to playing the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, July 29, the Toronto Blue Jays had a mediocre record of 50-51. People questioned whether Toronto would go for it this season, or try and build their farm system up for the next few seasons.

Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos rolled the dice and traded for Troy Tulowitzki and David Price and the gamble paid off immediately. On July 29 Troy Tulowitzki played his first game for the Blue Jays and hit a home run. Since then Toronto has not looked back and the club is a ridiculous 23-5 with Tulo on the team.

In 27 games with Toronto, Tulo has hit an underwhelming .227 with four home runs and 11 RBIs, but having the shortstop at the top of the lineup to go along with his solid defense has sparked the Blue Jays. The Canadian ball club now has Tulowitzki leading off followed by AL MVP Candidate Josh Donaldson batting second, Jose Bautista batting third and Edwin Encarnacion batting fourth.

That is an insane combination of hitters that can kill you in almost any way and Encarnacion has been red hot for the Blue Jays of late. Yesterday Encarnacion hit three home runs and knocked in 9 runs and now has 29 home runs on the season to go along with 90 runs batted in.

The Blue Jays have no doubt the best offense in baseball and with their starting pitching heating up, led by staff ace David Price, this team is primed for a postseason run. In five starts with Toronto David Price is 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 36.1 innings pitched.

The ball club has gotten decent starting pitching as of late and with their incredible offense, that could be all the team needs. The Blue Jays are 3-1 against the Kansas City Royals in the second half and are now a game and a half up on the division in the AL East.

Toronto will enter the playoffs having won over 90 games and will dispatch of the Houston Astros in four games in the ALDS. The Blue Jays will then play the Royals in the ALCS and though it will be a great series, Toronto will win in six games thanks to their great offense and their pitching led by David Price.

The X-factor for the Blue Jays in the playoffs will be Marcus Stroman, who will likely come out of the bullpen for the Jays and will catalyze the pitching staff.

On the National League side the World Series favorite is the St. Louis Cardinals, but once October comes around they will not be the team in the World Series. The National League will be represented by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have arguably the two best pitchers in baseball with Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke.

Greinke leads the league in ERA on the season at 1.61 and Clayton Kershaw has been lights out in the second half. In 8 starts since the all-star break Kershaw is 5-0 with a 1.o2 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched. To go along with the two aces are Brett Anderson, who has a 3.36 ERA on the year, Mat Latos and Alex Wood.

The Dodgers have also gotten help from their closer Kenley Jansen, who has been great this year posting 27 saves in 29 opportunities to go along with a 2.39 ERA on the season. The Dodger lineup, led by Adrian Gonzalez who has 24 home runs and 75 RBIs, is full of veterans that have played in the spotlight before.

Gonzalez is joined by Howie Kendrick, who is hitting .296 on the season, along with Andre Ethier and ultra utility man Justin Turner who has been phenomenal this year. Turner on the season is hitting .295 with 15 home runs and 51 RBIs and has been a big part of the team’s success.

To go along with those players the Dodgers have all-star catcher Yasmani Grandal, and veteran leaders Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley who have played many big games in their careers. The time is now for the Los Angeles Dodgers and with a 72-56 record on the year they will likely end up playing the New York Mets in what will be a great NLDS matchup.

The Mets young pitching will give the Dodgers hitters fits, but with Kershaw and Greinke leading the way the Dodgers will dispose of the New York ball club in five games. In the NLCS the Dodgers will have to find a way to get past the St. Louis Cardinals.

This series will be tough for the Dodgers, but Kershaw will come in fired up as he has struggled against the Cardinals in the past. Kershaw will lead the Dodgers to a NLCS victory in six games and the Dodgers will meet the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2015 World Series.

The X-factor in the playoffs for the Dodgers will be Yasiel Puig. The young player is immensely talented, but has not had a very good year for the Los Angeles ball club. Puig is going to figure it out down the stretch and in October will help carry the team to the World Series.

In one of the best World Series match ups in years Clayton Kershaw will face David Price in game one of the World Series. Kershaw will dominate the Blue Jays free swingers and will win game one for the Dodgers. The Blue Jays will make it a good series, but ultimately the Dodgers will win the World Series in seven games with Clayton Kershaw winning the World Series MVP.

http://SportsRants.com

Josh Donaldson Making a Solid Case for AL MVP

It’s been exactly nine months since the Toronto Blue Jays acquired Josh Donaldson from the Oakland Athletics. To get the All-Star third baseman, the Blue Jays gave up third baseman Brett Lawrie, starting pitchers Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin, and  minor league shortstop Franklin Barreto. Many baseball experts considered the trade a steal for the Blue Jays. In 2014, Donaldson batted .255 with 29 home runs and 98 RBIs. He finished eighth in the AL MVP voting. Many wondered why Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics, would trade such a talent for little return. There were rumors that Beane and Donaldson didn’t get along. Whatever the reason for trade, Donaldson’s now in Toronto and is having an MVP-type season.

Josh Donaldson has been a force in the Blue Jays lineup all year. Long before Troy Tulowitzki was traded to Jays, Donaldson was carrying the offense. Even with Tulowitzki there now, Donaldson is still standing out. He’s batting .297 on the year and has  34 home runs and an AL-leading 101 RBIs. His on-base percentage is up to .367 while his slugging percentage is at .573.

While the Blue Jays have many good hitters, Donaldson has been the best one overall. Jose Bautista is closest statistically to him. He’s batting .243 with 30 homers and 87 RBIs. While Bautista is certainly having a good year, he hasn’t had the year that Donaldson has had. Tulowitzki was just traded to the Blue Jays a month ago and has already gotten some big hits for them. Between Bautista, Tulowitzki, and Donaldson, the Blue Jays have a very scary lineup. Donaldson’s been able to get the big hits all year long for the Blue Jays. He’s clearly been their team MVP. The question is, has he been the MVP of the AL?

The only other player that’ll probably give Donaldson a real run for his money for AL MVP is Mike Trout. The Angels outfielder won the award last year and is having another great season. He’s hitting .295 with 33 home runs and 73 RBIs. Along with slugging first baseman Albert Pujols, Trout has been a major threat in the Angels lineup. Right now though, Donaldson leads Trout in average, home runs, and RBIs. They’ve both had fantastic seasons, but right now it’s hard not to think that Donaldson deserves the award more.

Usually, the MVPs of both the NL and the AL come from a team that has made the postseason that year. If that’s the case, there’s a chance that the Trout/Donaldson MVP race is decided by which of their teams make the playoffs. That’s not the fairest way to decide MVP, but that’s just the way it goes. Right now, the Angels are a half game back of the second wild card spot in the AL. The Blue Jays currently hold a slim lead over the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East. There’s a chance that both teams make the playoffs.  That would make the MVP race that much more interesting. If that’s the case and both teams are in the playoffs, it’d be hard to see Donaldson not winning AL MVP. He certainly deserves the award this year.

 

http://SportsRants.com

A.L. MVP Race

The A.L. MVP Race has been narrowed down to three candidates, in my opinion, and neither of them are pitchers. I would like to give Chris Archer and Sonny Gray a big nod towards the MVP race, but they will be fighting it out for A.L. Cy Young this year, and honestly, it’s down to just those two. I can’t think of a third candidate that will compare this year.

A lot of people have different views on “MVP”, is it someone that is putting up numbers and performing at a level that no one else is? Is it someone that is the reason the team is where they are? In other words, is it someone who is the best in baseball, or is it the most valuable player to this players team? I go back and forth myself, but in the end, I think it’s someone who is in both conversations. My MVP is a player who could be plugged into any team and instantly makes them a contending team, Miguel Cabrera could be the MVP every year if he never gets injured, he could play for the Phillies and somehow people will have a sense of hope that the team is a contender every year he is on the roster. So who had the MVP year in 2015?


Nelson Cruz: The best thing to happen to the Mariners this year, Nelson Cruz has always been able to crush the ball, and draw his walks because of the fear of what he might do at the plate. This year though, that’s not the case. He is having a career year, on path to hit more then 40 home runs, gather around 100 RBI’s, 170+ hits, 20+ go ahead hits, 300+ total bases, .750+ offensive winning percentage. The list of his accomplishments go on and on. The only month that Cruz was slumping was in June, and everyone in the MVP race has had a slumping month, but June was a bit ugly for Cruz, posting a slash line of .239/.323/.307. It was the only month where he didn’t post an OPS over 1. What has me saying Cruz is my 2015 AL MVP is that his fielding has been about average, which no one would have predicted when he came to Seattle, everyone assumed he was going to be a full time DH and play just a little in right field. When his manager Lloyd McClendon said that he would be playing a lot in the outfield, everyone scratched their head asking themselves, “why would you risk your best hitter getting injured at something that isn’t his strongest skill?”. Well, Cruz certainly proved those critics wrong this year, playing 71 games in the outfield, with a fielding percentage of .979, committing only 3 errors out of the 141 defensive chances.

The downside to his career year is his team, they didn’t perform nearly half as well as he did all season. If the Mariners were contending for a playoff spot, then he would be the front runner for MVP, hands down. Every talking head would speak of how Cruz was the best thing to happen to Seattle since Griffey. So it’s sad that the team Cruz is playing for is the reason his MVP season might not be labeled as a “MVP Season”. Take a look at his offensive ranking this year and see if that doesn’t change your mind to give the nod to Cruz this year.

Offensive WAR: 6.1 (2nd)
Batting Average: .320 (4th)
Slugging: .604 (1st)
OPS: .993 (2nd)
Hits: 150 (2nd)
Total Bases: 276 (1st)
Home Runs: 36 (1st)
RBI: 75 (7th)
Adj. Batting Wins: 4.7 (1st)
Extra Base Hits: 57 (4th)
Times on Base: 196 (3rd)
Runs Created: 109 (1st)
Offensive Winning Percentage: .794 (1st)
Intentional BB’s: 7 (4th)
AB per HR: 12.7 (3rd)
WPA: 4.9 (1st)


Josh Donaldson: The front runner for the trophy, Josh has been producing both, offensively and defensively all season, a little bit of a June hiccup, but not as bad as Cruz’s June or Trout’s August.  Even in his worst month, it would be anybody else’s good month, hitting .269 with 3 HR, 10 RBI, 8 walks and 8 extra base hits. He is making right or left hand match ups look like a joke, hitting .291 against right handed pitching, .347 against left handers, and 26 of his 34 home runs have come against right handed pitching.

Losing out to Kyle Seager last year for the Gold Glove, this year it looks like Donaldson will be a lock. Manny Machado would probably be the runner up if that helps anyone sleep at night. Donaldson also has a harder job given his stadium, Rodgers Stadium still using Astro Turf/GameDay Grass 3D and only Tropicana Field uses the same playing surface, so the ball doesn’t get to slow down if hit to any of the infielders, and Donaldson still ranks 1st in putouts at 3B with 104, and 3rd place in errors with only 16.

He is the first to 100 RBI’s and is still raking, and has plenty of time left to keep adding to the daunting numbers, take a look at where he ranks offensively:

On Base %: .370 (8th)
Slugging: .585 (4th)
OBPS: .956 (4th)
Runs Scored: 95 (1st)
Hits: 145 (7th)
Total Bases: 281 (2nd)
Doubles: 34 (2nd)
Home Runs: 34 (2nd)
RBI: 100 (1st)
Runs Created: 104 (2nd)
Adjusted Batting Wins: 4.0 (6th)
Extra Base Hits: 68 (1st)
Time On Base: 201 (3rd)
Offensive Win %: .739 (3rd)
Sac Flies: 7 (4th)
AB per HR: 14.1 (7th)
RE24: 46.63 (1st)
WPA: 4.7 (2nd)


Mike Trout: Last years MVP and the front runner for most of the summer, until August, Trout has been playing like he isn’t from this planet. He is going to garnish a lot of votes again this year, I expect him getting 2nd place for a 3rd time in his four year tenure in the MLB. Mostly because of where his team sits, and where his WAR has been since he stepped onto Angel Stadium of Anaheim, he has lead the MLB in WAR since his rookie tour, posting a 10.8 WAR in 2012, 9.3 in 2013 and 7.9 in 2014.  A lot of people will argue that this is the most important statistic when it comes to overall evaluation of a ball player, how much does he help your team, and for Mike Trout, he helps, he helps out A LOT. Yet, he still strikes out a lot, and has been slumping really bad this August. It’s going to be a month he will use to fuel him for the future, he can always look back at his .205/.333/.321 slash lines and remember what it was like to play at that low of a level, and knowing Mike, he will be humbled, knowing that he has the talent he does and is able to come out of a slump of this proportion.

But prior to this slide, he was definitely making it a hard decision to discount Donaldson and Cruz for MVP. Especially when you think about his defense, before the baseball world had trout, we were watching the spectacular plays in center field by the likes of Adam Jones, and Carlos Gomez, but now we seem to not think of those guys when someone brings up the Center Field position, and instantly all of our heads will go to Mike Trout. He’s this era’s Ken Griffey Jr without the HR numbers and hits from the right side. I don’t think we need to post the fancy defensive numbers to know that no one on the ball field plays their position better than Mike Trout… Well, maybe the platinum glove winner Andrelton Simmons could make that argument. But look at Trouts offensive numbers and where he ranks across the MLB:

Offensive WAR: 6.8 (1st)
On Base %: .394 (3rd)
Slugging: .586 (3rd)
OBPS: .979 (3rd)
Runs Scored: 80 (5th)
Total Bases: 260 (3rd)
Home Runs: 33 (4th)
Walks: 64 (4th)
Runs Created: 103 (3rd)
Adjusted Batting Wins: 4.6 (2nd)
Extra Base Hits: 59 (3rd)
Time on Base: 204 (1st)
Offensive Winning %: .762 (2nd)
WPA: 3.9 (4th)

The Youth Movement Taking Baseball By Storm

In the midst of a division race Friday night Bryce Harper hit his 30th home run of the season for the Washington Nationals, becoming one of seven players in the major leagues with 30 this year. Harper is only 22 and has not reached his ceiling yet, and is quickly already becoming one of the best players in baseball and a legitimate MVP candidate.

Joined by Bryce Harper at the top is 24 year old Mike Trout, who has hit 33 home runs this year. Trout has been off the chart for the Los Angeles Angels and is likely on his way to winning his second consecutive Most Valuable Player award. The Trout vs Harper debate will be around for years to come, but there are many other young superstars in the game that should be getting fans’ attention during this exciting season.

Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies is only 24 years old, but leads the National League with 86 runs batted in and has hitting 29 home runs on the season. The 24 year old third baseman might not even be the best young player at that position, with 23 year old Manny Machado also having a prolific year and Kris Bryant learning the ropes for the Chicago Cubs.

The 2015 season has been taken over by young players led by Trout, Harper, Machado and Arenado and baseball is seeing a movement that will make the game more exciting for years to come. In the national league 24 years olds Shelby Miller, Gerritt Cole and Michael Wacha have all put up great years and all have ERAs under 3 for the season. Wacha’s teammate for the Cardinals, Carlos Martinez, is only 23 years old and has a 2.59 ERA on the season for the St. Louis ball club.

Over in the American League Sonny Gray has dominated hitters and is leading the league in ERA at 2.06. At 25 years old he has a good shot at winning his first CY Young award for the Oakland Athletics. Gray has been overpowering and leads the league in ERA, WHIP and BAA.

In Houston we are seeing the emergence of a 20 year old shortstop that might already be the best at his position in baseball. Carlos Correa has been on fire since being called up by Houston this year and has 14 home runs in 227 at bats, good for a .537 Slugging percentage on the year. Correa has been a catalyst for the Houston ball club and is a big reason why the Astros are winning the AL West.

In Minnesota 22 year old slugging third baseman Miguel Sano has hit seven home runs and ten doubles in 125 at bats and is hitting .280 for the season. He is joined by 21 year old center fielder Byron Buxton, who when healthy, is one of the most exciting players in baseball and is a top prospect.

Giancarlo Stanton has not played since June 26, but is still tied for fourth in the National League with 27 home runs on the year. Stanton at 25 years old has more power than any player in the big leagues, and is joined by Jose Fernandez as two of the most exciting players in the game.

Over in Chicago the Cubs have a team stocked with young talent headed by 23 year olds Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler. At the age of 23 Bryant is already tenth in the majors in walks and has been as good as advertised. However as good as Bryant has been, he is not even the best young player on his team with the way that Kyle Schwarber has been swinging the bat since being called up.

Schwarber is a 22 year old catcher that is hitting .313 with 8 home runs in 112 at bats for the Cubs. He has been phenomenal and with Schwarber, Bryant, Soler and 21 year old Addison Russell the Cubs have their own young all-star roster.

In Los Angeles 23 year old Joc Pederson has had an impressive rookie campaign, hitting 23 long balls on the year for the first place Dodgers. Pederson is joined by 24 year old Yasiel Puig, who has had a down year, but still has managed to hit 10 home runs and when he is in the zone is one of the most dangerous hitters.

All around baseball young players are stepping up and making an impact for teams and the tide is changing in the major leagues. A game that was once dominated by veterans is being pushed aside as the exciting young superstars get their chance at glory and with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper at the helm, baseball is in great shape for years to come.

http://SportsRants.com

How The AL East Will Be Won

Major League Baseball will have some pretty fun division races down the stretch. There are also some yawn-inducing divisional races such as the Kansas City Royals (11 game lead) and the St. Louis Cardinals (6 game lead). The NL East, AL East, NL West and AL West are all will be worth watching late in September and even very early October.

Pay particular attention to the AL East. The Blue Jays have taken a rocket ship up the standings and now sit atop the AL East with a half game lead on the New York Yankees. Before the deadline, everyone thought the Yankees winning the division was a forgone conclusion. Now some are thinking they could be left out of the playoffs all together.

It’s still a two and maybe even three-horse race in the AL East. Let’s take a look at how things play out.

American League East

Why the Blue Jays Will Win:

The time is now for the boys north of the border. The front office made that very clear when they acquired Troy Tulowitzki and David Price at the deadline last month. All they have done is ignite the entire franchise and now they have everyone thinking late October baseball in Toronto. Tulowitzki has hit three homers since joining the club and all David Price has done is throw 15 innings in two starts with 18 strikeouts and a 0.60 ERA. The focus is to turn that 1/2 game lead into a 3-5 game lead by September. If the club plays like they have been in the last two weeks, they will cruise to a division title (disclaimer: I am not saying the Blue Jays will go undefeated in September, but it could be close).

(By The New York Times)

(By The New York Times)

Why the Yankees Will Win:

First of all, Alex Rodriguez needs to show a few others on the club where the Fountain of Youth is located that he found. This team is starting to fade, perhaps due to the fatigue of five key players that are 35 or older (A-Rod, Texeira, Beltran, Sabathia, Capuano)? This team needs to find the groove they were enjoying in July. They got there with home runs (153, 3rd in MLB) and clutch, late-inning pitching (2.72 ERA in 8th inning or later, 5th in MLB). It is likely the team that doesn’t win the division will get a Wild Card spot. The Yankees have 11 more games against the Blue Jays  this season and they are 2-7 so far this season. That is not a good trend for the Bronx Bombers.

 

(By USA Today)

(By USA Today)

Why the Rays Will Win: Honestly it will take a colossal collapse by the Blue Jays and/or Yankees. If either of those teams plays above .500 ball for the rest of the season, the Rays are out. It can be done, however if someone not named Chris Archer can step up on that Tampa Bay rotation. Archer has a 2.62 ERA and the rest of the rotation is almost a run worse. It is division or bust for the Rays, they don’t want to face any team in a one-team play-in game.

My Pick: Toronto Blue Jays

They finally have a difference maker in David Price in their pitching staff to complement their explosive offense. They will continue trending upward towards their first division title since 1993.

American League Playoff Predictions

With the trade deadline in the rear view mirror, the only road left is the one to the playoffs. The race to October is really heating up in cities like Toronto, New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Houston. If the playoffs started today, the N.L. Central would have three playoff teams. The world series champion San Francisco Giants would not even be able to contend to defend their tittle. The Houston Astros would win the A.L. West and the Anaheim Angels would be playing in Toronto for the wild card. It’s refreshing to see new teams make the post season, especially in the American League. With 7 weeks left of baseball, anything and everything can happen, be sure to chime in on your predictions in the comments below.

American League

East: The Toronto Blue Jays are going to take over the East, they have become the power house to keep up with in the American League. Kansas City is the only team you can look at that is more well put together, they just don’t have the line up that Toronto has. Toronto has a lot of fuel in the tank after the trade deadline, if they want to stay on the winning side of things they are going to need to maintain a healthy line up. The best thing they did outside of David Price and Troy Tulowitzki was pick up Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins, the bullpen was a little rough, but they found some really good pieces to preserve more wins.

I think Baltimore is going to land a wild card bid, the starting rotation is solid even with the release of Bud Norris. The Bullpen has been pretty lights out, posting a 2.78 ERA 1.20 WHIP and hitters are only hitting .231 and they even have a 19-12 record. They will be relying heavily on the arm of Wei Yin Chen to help them get to October baseball, but he has been the dark horse MVP for Baltimore.

Yes, this means the Yankees will be watching October baseball from the couch. I do think they will be in the race all the way to the end, but I think they will fall off when attrition sets in on that starting rotation and line up.

Central:  Even with seven weeks left and anything can happen, the Kansas City Royals have this locked up. They just need to keep playing with the chip on the shoulder like they do every game and they will win the Central in a month. The rest of the central has fallen off and will likely be watching baseball rather then playing it. It’s upsetting to see Minnesota fall off the table, a team that had a lot of promise and a lot of upside fall flat. Ervin Santana was pitching really well since his return from suspension, but a recent implosion and a 2-8 ten game skid, they have laid the table for their future.

West: The most fun division to keep an eye on, because it has the previous years basement dwellers Houston Astros playing some of the best baseball in the majors. The Astros validated themselves with the acquisition of Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. They also will get the return of George Springer in the next few weeks, the only crutch against Houston is how poor they play on the road, the good thing about the future road games, most of them are all under .500.

Anaheim is in the driver seat to take over the A.L. West but if they fall short, they will be rewarded with a wild card spot. The biggest issue with Anaheim is pitching. They have one of the best closers but struggle getting to him, they were running on the magic of Garrett Richards last year but it wasn’t realistic to expect him to repeat his 2.61ERA, 1.03WHIP, .201 AVG 2014 campaign. They can’t really rely on Jared Weaver to take them all the way either, Huston Street has a better WAR then Weaver, and is only a few ticks behind Richards. I don’t think the Angels will get to the ALDS, but will fight to get in.


My American League final standings.

1. Kansas City
2. Toronto
3. Houston
4. Baltimore
5. Anaheim

 

Home Field Advantage Tuesday

Using numbers to tell a baseball story can be just plain fun if not completely trivial. It was was a little of both on Tuesday. Entering the day, MLB teams had an average home record of 30-25 this season. A slight advantage, but nothing too severe. However, the Cardinals are a major league best 40-16 at home this season. The Cleveland Indians are on the flipside with a league worst 22-33 mark at home. Both teams were are home on Tuesday when history was made. All the home town crowds went home happy.

Following Austin Jackson’s walk off single in the 10th inning to give the Mariners a home win over the Orioles it made it where all 15 home teams had won their games. Mr. Elias confirms that’s never happened.

Here’s kind of how it happened.

Blue Jays 4, Athletics 2 (Rogers Centre)

Despite a 5.26 ERA, the Blue Jays Drew Hutchison improved to 11-2 with seven innings of two runs allowed. Jose Bautista thrilled the home crowd by hitting his 27th home run.

Indians 5, Yankees 4 (Progressive Field)

The Yankees Carlos Beltran tied the game at two in the 8th with a home run. Both teams scored twice in the 10th, but Michael Brantley’s single won the game for the Tribe in the 16th inning. The Yankees AL East lead over the Blue Jays is down to just a half game.

 Rays 2, Braves 0 (Tropicana Field)

The Rays shutout the Braves as Erasmo Ramirez (9-4) pitched seven scoreless innings in the win. All the runs scored on Kevin Kiermaier 5th HR of the season in the 7th inning.

Marlins 5, Red Sox 4 (The place featuring the fish home run sculpture)

The Red Sox blew a 4-0 lead by allowing two in the sixth, one in the seventh, one in the ninth, and one in the tenth on Justin Bour’s walk-off single.

Royals 6, Tigers 1 (Kauffman Stadium)

Yordano Ventura got his ERA back under 5.00 by pitching six scoreless innings. He did walk six. Hosmer, LoCain, and Moose Tacos hit long balls for the Royals.

Twins 3, Rangers 2 (Target Field)

Elvis left the building for the 5th time, but the Texas still lost. The Twins scored two in the 8th on Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano RBI doubles followed by a Eduardo Escobar’s walk-off double in the 9th.

White Sox 3, Angels 0 (The Cell)

Carlos Rodon has been great and bad this season. Tuesday he was great with seven scoreless innings, 11 Ks, and only one walk. Klay Thompson’s brother Trayce hit his first major league home run as the White Sox beat a team from the Golden State.

Mets 4, Rockies 0 (Citi Field)

Eight scoreless innings for Matt Harvey. Juan Lagares drove in two of the four Mets runs during a three-hit night that included two doubles.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 3 (Busch Stadium III)

Did you know Stephen PIscotty is hitting .355 (22-62). He had a three-hit night for the Cardinals. St. Louis talent grows better than weeds between a sidewalk crack.

Cubs 6, Brewers 3 (Wrigley Field)

Dreamy Dan Haren won his first game as a Cub (150th of his career) in his second start with his new club. Starlin Castro was a defensive replacement at second base. He made a sliding catch on a foul pop up in the 9th. Joe Maddon confused fantast baseball owners by using James Russell to get his first save of the season.

Puig 5, Nationals 0 (Dodger Stadium)

Zack Greinke (12-2) lowered his ERA to 1.65 with six more scoreless innings. Yasiel Puig did not waiver by pounding a two-run homer and also delivering a three triple.

Giants 3, Astros 1 (AT&T Park)

Madison Bumgarner (13-6) set a Giants record be striking out seven straight batters after allowing the first two batters to reach base in the game. It was a complete game, 12 K, no walk performance. Brandon Belt continued his recent home run barrage by hitting two more. Baby Giraffe has seven long balls this month in ten games.

Diamondbacks 13, Phillies 1 (Chase Field)

Eight innings and only one unearned run allowed by the DBacks Jeremy Hellickson. Really? He was also 2-3 at the plate with a walk, three RBIs and a run scored. David Peralta’s 5 RBI night included a grand slam. Aaron Hill and Saltymargarita also homered for Arizona.

Padres 11, Reds 6 (Petco Park)

It was a four RBI night for Jedd Gyorko, who also hit his seventh homer. Michael Lorenzen was charged with seven runs and only recorded four outs for the Reds.

 

Mariners 6, Orioles 5 (Safeco Field)

Nelson Cruz’s neck spasms didn’t keep him from extending his hitting streak to 21-games. He added his 34th home run. Trumbomb #14 was launched and as noted at the beginning A-Jax got doused in water following his game winning hit for the Mariners in the bottom of the 10th.

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The Blue Jays’ Hunt For A Successful October

The Blue Jays stand at 61-52 for the 2015 MLB season and are now only 1.5 games back of the New York Yankees. Since acquiring Troy Tulowitzki, the Blue Jays have gained 6.5 games on the Yankees and are 11-0 with the all-star shortstop in the lineup. David Price has been dominant for Toronto in two starts and is 2-0 with one run allowed in 15 innings.

The Blue Jays are also in the first Wild Card spot and are only 49 games away from doing something that they have not accomplished since 1993, which is making the postseason.

It has been a tough few years for Toronto as they gave up a lot of talent to acquire Mark Buerhle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, John Buck and Emilio Bonfacio from the Miami Marlins, and R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets. Since making those trades the expectations were that the Blue Jays would make the postseason but the team has failed to do so.

With this year starting to look like another failure for Toronto, General Manager Alex Anthopoulos decided enough was enough and dealt for Ben Revere, Tulowitzki and Price, giving the Blue Jays an ace at the top of their rotation, an all-star shortstop and a speedy outfielder.

The Blue Jays have now won eight straight games and nine of their last ten and are on the verge of overtaking the first place Yankees after sweeping the Bronx Bombers over the weekend. The ball club is red hot and improved what was already the best lineup in baseball with the acquisitions of Tulowitzki and Revere and with Tulo leading off for Toronto followed by Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion the lineup is formidable enough to frighten any opposing pitcher.

The real key for the Blue Jays was adding David Price, who is a free agent after the 2015 season. By adding the left-hander the Blue Jays stated that they were all in for this season and believe that they can make the World Series. The way that Toronto has played they look like a World Series caliber team and they recently won three out of four against Kansas City, the team that many people believe will return to the World Series.

Adding David Price at the top of the rotation gives Toronto veteran leadership and allows Mark Buerhle to become the number two starter for the team, a role that he more comfortably fills. To go along with Buerhle and Price are Dickey, Drew Hutchinson and Marco Estrada, who has been very good this year and is 10-6 with a 3.21 ERA on the season.

With the news that Marcus Stroman will return this season the Blue Jays now have another good pitcher to add to the mix. While Stroman might not start when he returns, the 24 year old could still be valuable in the bullpen mowing down hitters with his elite fastball.

Toronto has finally found their closer in Roberto Osuna and the 20 year old has four saves in the month of August and has pitched to a 2.13 ERA on the season out of the bullpen. Osuna is anchored by LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe, two players that were also acquired at the deadline to give Toronto the best bullpen that they have had in recent memory.

For the Blue Jays this could be their last chance to make the World Series for some time. David Price is not going to re-sign with Toronto, but the Blue Jays still have him for now and they are making the right decision to go all in on the 2015 season. The Blue Jays have a legitimate candidate for the AL MVP in Josh Donaldson to go along with CY Young candidate David Price and are on the precipice of making the playoffs for the first time in 22 years.

With the way that the Blue Jays are playing they have a good shot of reaching the World Series. Toronto improved more than any other team at the trade deadline and now have a staff ace, and a good bullpen to go along with the best lineup in baseball. A Royals-Blue Jays ALCS would be a great matchup and is something that fans should look forward to this year.

Time To Shine: Luis Severino To Make Debut For Yankees

One of the hottest names tossed around at the MLB Trade Deadline was of a prospect who was deemed “untouchable” by the New York Yankees front office. Luis Severino is that player and tonight he takes the mound in his major league debut as the Yankees take on the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. It is the most anticipated debut since the call ups of Jesus Montero, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in years past.

The excitement around the debut of Severino is certainly justified. Severino was electric in the minors, going 9-2 with a 2.45 E.R.A. in almost 100 innings between Class AA and Class AAA and has performed better as he ascended up the ranks of the minor leagues.

“My staff and I all sat down numerous times this winter and again in spring training and mapped out this scenario, and he performed up to his capabilities. We felt he would pitch for us come August at some point and here we are,” general manager Brian Cashman said before Tuesday night’s game. “Now it’s, ‘Let’s see what we got.

We’re not adding any extra pressure,” said Cashman. “Listen, it’s his major league debut. He wants to do well. If I traded for one of these big-name starters coming in, they’d feel pressure too. Just plug in and play. We’ll see what we get.”

“He’s an incredible talent. He’s got a great arm, has an idea of what he’s trying to do,” said catcher Brian McCann. “And he has three plus pitches.”

Reliever Nick Rumbelow, who pitched with Severino when they were both in the minors, spoke of a game with Single-A Charleston last year.

“There were a couple errors behind him,” Rumbelow said. “And the way he responded was ‘Just make the next pitch.’ That jumped out at me, his maturity level. Where other guys may have wavered off, he stayed focused and got the job done.

“Ultimate competitor. The guy’s got unbelievable stuff. He’s 21. You don’t see that when he pitches. You see a mature guy.”

And the Yankees are expecting big things for Severino. Cashman made it clear that Severino will stay in the rotation for the foreseeable future and the Yanks certainly need him. With injuries limiting Michael Pineda, the abysmal performance of CC Sabathia and with Masahiro Tanaka not where he was last season from a performance standpoint, New York will need someone to step up in the rotation as they journey down the stretch run.

“The thing I would tell him is he understands himself better than anyone else so go be yourself,” Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi said. “Don’t necessarily say, ‘Well, he’s a big league catcher and he’s been here for 11 years or whatever.’ If you’re not comfortable throwing that pitch, don’t throw that pitch. Just give us everything you got for as long as you can. We’ll take it.”

Severino gets the benefit of debuting in Yankee Stadium which will be pumped up due to the anticipation of his debut and he faces a Boston Red Sox team that is at the bottom of the division (14 games back) and posting the worst record in the American League at 47-60.

The stars have aligned for Severino, now it’s time for this exciting prospect what he has.

 

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