Early pennant races and two careers in peril @ MLBRT 5/11

The MLBRT crew takes an early  look at some pennant races and opines about the Matt Harvey situation with the Mets and if Francisco Rodriguez is at the tail end of his career.

This week’s questions…

1) As of Monday morning the top three in the AL East looked like this… Yankees 20-9 (.690); Orioles 20-10 (.667) and the Red Sox 17-14 (.548). 

In your opinion, which team blinks first and fades from playoff contention or will it be a dogfight until the end with maybe 3 teams from the division possibly making the playoffs? 

Are you buying the Yankees’ hot start? Or, are they destined to fade from AL East race eventually?

Archie: Way too early to tell. Any major injury for a starter or star player can upset the apple cart for any three. But, IF I had to venture at this point which will fade my guess would be the Red Sox. I just don’t think they did enough to replace their losses from the offseason.

Dan: I think, in all reality, the Yankees will most likely blink first and fade, but I do ultimately think that all three teams will be competing until the end of the season for the AL East crown and a playoff spot.

Boston is recovering from the loss of David Ortiz and still working on getting their offense going. David Price will be returning soon as he’s beginning a rehab assignment this weekend.

Baltimore has a great offense, but the pitching will doom them once again. They were able to make it to the postseason last year with their offense driving them, I believe they can do it again this season.

The Yankees are young with a ton of talent. They’re really hot right now and it’ll be interesting to see how the team recovers once they start hitting the usual cold streak.

Steve: Actually I think all five teams, including the Blue Jays and Rays, will be in contention at the end of the year. Despite the slow start in Toronto, the Blue Jays have a butt load of talent, and they can give it a run in the East.

As far as any team blinking first? I don’t see it happening. I think all of these teams in the East are very good teams and will all contend for a playoff spot at the end of the year. Ultimately, if they can get injuries under control, the Red Sox should come out of the East, but it won’t be locked up until probably the last weekend of the season.

2) The dysfunctional Mets have been dealing with injuries all too much lately but now they seem to have another issue that may be worse for the team… Matt Harvey. They announced over the weekend that he was being removed from his scheduled start due to a 3-game suspension for violating team rules. Rumors abound that the suspension is due to a culmination of issues that ultimately was triggered because he did not report for a required team workout. This is not the 1st time Harvey and the Mets have butted heads… 

1) Is Harvey fast earning a reputation for being a malcontent in the clubhouse?

2) Is it time for the Mets to dangle him around the league to see what they can get for him while he still has value?

Should the Mets consider trading Matt Harvey?

Archie: While most of the interviews from his team mates did not seem to make much of it I would think they will eventually get tired of his shit and throw him under the bus. So, in the end , I think it is time to start trade talks.

If nothing else, rumor him to the worst teams in the league, maybe his attitude will change.

Dan: I think Matt Harvey is becoming a problem. He didn’t report to a team workout. He was absent from a couple games. He admitted to going out on Friday night and staying out real late, then golfing on Saturday morning. He’s not focused on his job. He’s a problem.

I believe the Mets need to take a look and see what kind of offers they can attract for him. A team will want him. There’s a lot of pitching needs in the majors. The real question regarding this situation is who wants to deal with his problems?

Steve: It has never come completely out what exactly he did. So, I cannot say that I would be willing to dangle him around. From the sounds of things, it sounds like a complete mis-communication between Harvey and the organization. I have no problem with the suspension, but beyond that, I think they just need to move forward and get through this season.

If, there is no change, then sure, see if you can unload him.

3) With a 21-11 record (.656), The Houston Astros (as of Monday morning) lead the AL West by 5 ½ games. No other team in the division has a record over .500. 

In your opinion, will any team in the division threaten the Astros or will they have a virtual free ride into the playoffs as the unchallenged division winner? 

Astros looking strong in AL West

Archie: No. I think that division is a mess.

If, you guys remember some of our earlier posts, I think I said the AL West had not done much as well to threaten as contenders this year. ( I think I did anyway, might have just been office talk).

Dan: I don’t believe so. I think the Texas Rangers have the best shot to threaten the Astros, but it’s their division to lose.

I do like the Mariners as a team, but they’re just not good enough to threaten Houston. Oakland will likely be fourth, but can compete for third and the Angels aren’t looking like they’re going to compete any time soon this season.

Steve: I still think the Mariners and the Rangers are going to come together and give the Astros a run. While, I think the Stros are going to win this division pretty easily, I don’t think it will be as easy as it seems moving forward.

I see them winning by about what they are up at right now, 5 or 6 games.

4) The Washington Nationals are presently in the same position as the Astros… they presently (as of Monday Morning) lead the NL East by 6 ½ games with a 21-10 record (.678) and no other team in the division is over .500.

In your opinion, will any team in the division threaten the Nats or will they have a virtual free ride into the playoffs as the unchallenged division winner? 

Can anyone stop the Washington Nationals in the NL East?

Archie: This is a division I know well, and not just no, but hell no.

No other team in the NL East has the make up or moxie to contend. The ONLY reason it may happen is if the Nats falter like they so often do. IF, they maintain order and discipline and continue to play good ball no team in the East will contend for that title.

Dan: Same thing as the AL West. This is the Nationals’ division. They’re the second best team in the National League, in my opinion, and definitely could be the top NL team come the All-Star break.

The Mets are a mess with injuries and just aren’t getting going, the Braves and Phillies are cellar teams as are the Marlins. If the Nationals lose this, there’s serious problems in that organization.

Steve: At the beginning of the year I thought the Mets would have a shot at catching the Nationals, now that the Mets are in disarray, there is no way they are catching them.

The Nationals will win this division by 10-plus games, and will probably contend for the overall best record in the National League.

5) Detroit Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez has already blown four saves in 2017. His record now stands at 1-4 with an 8.49 ERA and 24 baserunners allowed in just 11 2/3 innings, including surrendering four home runs.

It’s probably a foregone conclusion the Tigers need a closer, but is this also the beginning of the end of Rodriguez’ MLB career?  

K-Rod finally out as Tigers’ closer, says Mgr. Ausmus

Archie: As a closer I would say his time is done. He will probably be moved to a spot as middle relief until he can show he has his act together. So far, either his mental makeup is not where it should be or the fact is his effectiveness is just not there anymore. For whatever reason, the team just can’t afford to lose close out opportunities at that rate.

Dan: I think so. He’s had a horrible start to the season, wasn’t his usual self last season and I believe this season will likely be his last. He’s averaging more than two base runners an inning, has a horrible ERA and the four home runs allowed followed with four blown saves is a huge sign for concern.

The Detroit Tigers need to look at getting a closer for the rest of the season immediately or they won’t be competing.

Francisco Rodriguez has had a nice career, but I believe it’s ending for him. This will be his last.

Steve: In my opinion if you have four blown saves before the All Star Break, it may be time to be reassigned. K-Rod seems to be falling apart, and maybe a stint in middle relief can do him some good.

To answer the question… Yes, the Tigers need to be shopping for a closer. Is it the end of his career though? I cant say that for sure, but definitely his days as a closer are numbered.

Extra Innings…

On this day in 1949, the White Sox beat the Red Sox, 12-8, and they did it by scoring in every inning of the Comiskey Park contest.

A team tallying in every frame had only occurred only five times in American League history.

Scoring in every inning of a game is actually rarer than someone pitching a perfect game.

As of 2016 there have been 21 perfect games tossed. Since that game in 1949, and as of 2016, there have been a grand total of  19 times (or 14 more times) that a team has scored in every inning of a game. The last tine it happened was when the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Atlanta Braves 11-3 at Miller Park on August 11th, 2016.


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