Sunday, July 10, 2016
It's MLB All-Star Break - Some Observations
As usual, there has been some surprises as well as some disappointments with the 30 MLB teams so far this season. Streaks seem to be in vogue in 2016 as both of the Chicago ball clubs can attest to.
The Cubs started out 25-6 and since then have played just around .500 baseball, but still maintain a 6-1/2 game lead over Pittsburgh as of today, the last day before the four day break as baseball's top players gather in San Diego for the All-Star Game.
The Cubs have lost five in a row and nine out of ten games recently while the Bucs have reeled off nine of ten games with wins to gain EIGHT games in ten days.
However, the Pirates were also reeling just before their current hot streak and fell as many as 15 games out of first place after keeping things close in the National League Central race the first two months. Likewise, the St. Louis Cardinals have been rolling of late (in spite of injuries) and are just seven games back of the Cubs.
The second half should make for an interesting race, especially after the trade deadline on August 1st, when the teams in the pennant races make their moves ... or not.
Over in the American League, the Chicago White Sox burst from the gate with a 23-10 start and held a six game lead in the AL Central before crashing back to earth with a six-week slump that saw them fall below the .500 mark briefly as they slipped behind three other teams in the division, falling as far back as eight-plus games behind the Cleveland Indians.
The Tribe ran off 14 consecutive wins to wrestle away control of the division from the Chisox, Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers.
Around the league, the Baltimore Orioles and their power-laden lineup lead the AL East by a mere two games in front of Boston and Toronto as they have seen a 5-1/2 game lead melt away in the past two weeks.
Just another example of streakiness around baseball this season.
By the way, the New York Yankees have been a big disappointment so far, currently under the .500 mark and languishing in fourth place in the division race.
In the AL West, the Texas Rangers have cooled off after a torrid June in which they led by as many as nine games in the division race. But now it's the Houston Astros soaring into orbit as they have closed to within 6-1/2 games of the Rangers after a putrid start to their season.
Back in the National League, the see saw race in the Eastern division has seen the streaky Washington Nationals get hot lately after losing seven straight games at the end of June to garner a five game lead ahead of the New York Mets and six games in front of the Miami Marlins.
Out West in the National League, the San Francisco Giants have cooled slightly after ripping through an unbelievable streak from mid-May to late June to take over the division lead and find themselves with a 6-1/2 game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have hung in there in spite of numerous injuries on the pitching staff, including ace starter Clayton Kershaw, currently on the disabled list.
All in all, it should be a good second half this season as the races will get going again next weekend and the trade deadline looming in just three weeks.
Who will be on the move as the teams gear up for the pennant push?
All three teams in the AL East race could use pitching help and the Red Sox already made a move to bolster their bullpen by acquiring Brad Ziegler from the Arizona Diamondbacks this weekend.
Yes, questions abound for the second half indeed . . . Will the Cubs get things turned around? Can the Indians maintain their lead after their huge winning streak? Will the Blue Jays catch fire as they did last year with big moves at the trade deadline? Can the Red Sox get their starting pitching in form to get back to the post-season?
Stay tuned baseball fans.