This week the crew at the Roundtable looks at some pennant races and give out some thoughts on the contenders and the pretenders…
1) The first-place Rockies (46-26 .639), and Dodgers and Diamondbacks, who are tied for second-place one game back with identical 44-26 .629 records, are all on fire.
The question is… can they all make the playoffs this year or does one, or maybe two, of the teams eventually fade from contention and if that happens who is your odds on favorite to be the team(s) that fail(s) to make the play-offs?
I do believe the trade deadline will see a lot of movement this season, maybe more so than usual. A 10-12 game lead is hard to overcome and the only way any team outside the division can make it up is IF that division beats each other up.
All have a nice chance to make the post-season, especially with how they’re currently sitting. I think two teams will make the post-season with the third coming just shy, being either the Rockies or the Diamondbacks. But, I really wouldn’t be surprised if all three teams made the post-season. They have the talent to do so and have been off to a fantastic start this season.
The Diamondbacks are relying on Greinke and their off-season to keep them going; while Colorado is relying on their young pitchers to keep them moving. I think the best chance to fall would be Colorado due to the young pitching and the ballpark they play their home games in. But, I definitely wouldn’t be surprised to see them complete the season all making the post-season.
This year it appears as if both teams are really for real and I wouldn’t be surprised at all, considering the quality of the other NL divisional pennant races, if all three team… Dodgers, Rockies and D’backs… make it into this years playoffs.
Steve: I thought the Rockies and D-Backs would have come back down to Earth by now. Seeing that they appear to be in it for the long haul, I could very easily see all three of these teams making the playoffs with any of the three winning the division. If, I was a betting man, I would pick the Dodgers to win the West, with the Rockies and D-Backs playing in the Wild-Card game.
I don’t see any other team in the National League competing right now at the same level of these clubs, and that includes the Cubs, who were favored to repeat as National League Champions. The Nationals are going to be there, and should run away with the East. I still like the Cubs in the Central but almost by default. No other teams in the East or Central really show me that they are post season bound, so yeah, all three teams in the West get in.
2) The Yankees ended most recent home stand by winning 6 straight games versus division rivals Boston and Baltimore with some very explosive offense power as well as some good pitching. On their just completed road trip to the west coast they went 1-6 against the Angels and the Athletics and are on a 6-game losing streak.
In your opinion, which streak is more indicative of who the Yankees are in 2017 and can they be competitive enough to (1) make the playoffs and (2) if they are in the playoffs can they win more than 1 game?
Archie: They definitely do like home cooking better than hotel food; that’s for sure. Usually a team as talented as the Yankees play at least .500 ball on the road but for some reason this team does not. Once they figure the “road habits” out they will be just fine. I look for them to win the East if they can settle that issue.
I think both are indicative of what type of team the New York Yankees are. They’re a streaky team that will be a little above .500 to finish the season. They have a crop of good players, but the inexperience as well as the incompleteness of them will lead to overall streaky play for the team. I think they’ll be in the hunt for the Wild Card but will miss the playoffs by a couple games.
Joe: Truthfully, like everyone else, I really didn’t see the Yankees making the playoffs this season, so when they started playing well and everything was falling into place, the Yankee fan that I am got truly excited. But, at the same time, the fatalist fan in me kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and a voice in the back of my mind kept saying, “Eventually, they will come back to earth and be the team I thought they were.” So… right now this losing streak… at 7 as I write this… has got me saying.. I knew it! And, damn, can they be this bad?
The realist fan in me says, “No, they can’t be this bad but they are still going to experience some growing pains and they still need some pitching.”
They still have time to right the ship… and I think they will.. but they do need to tighten up the bullpen and hopefully find a serviceable starter if they want to fight Boston for first place and a bye from the one game wild card play in game.
And on aside note… any team got room for Tyler Clippard? I wondered more than a bit at why the Yanks would sign his butt, and, so far, it seems as if I was right… the guy sucks!
Steve: I was watching the Yankees against the A’s the other night, and the broadcaster said something that really hit me. These Yankees are fun to watch, and you are almost rooting for them.
I grew up despising the Yankees, but now with Judge, Sanchez, Didi, Betances, Castro, and Chapman. I find myself almost rooting for them. I think they are destined for great things, and we may be seeing the beginning of another nice little run by the Yankees with home grown talent. This is a great team, and despite the losing streak, I think they are in the playoffs.
3) Speaking of Baltimore… while they are presently on a 2-game win streak they previously had lost 8 of 9 games and at one point were in last place in the AL East.
Can they resurrect their season and challenge in the AL East this season or will they be an also ran and out of the playoffs when the season ends?
Archie: I currently do not see a way they can finish much better than the current .500 mark. Their pitching is among the worst in all of MLB and that’s saying something. And, they just can’t seem to find enough run support to even things up.
I think Baltimore can resurrect their season to a point. I don’t see them making the playoffs, but the season isn’t doomed. Their pitching is just like last season where it’s going to cause them problems and their offense is rather good but it just looks like it’s missing some pieces.
They can be competitive this year again, but they won’t make the playoffs and will finish behind the Yankees.
The Orioles are a good team, and have one of the best offenses in baseball. They lack starting pitching, and with Britton out for an extended time, the bullpen is not much to praise over either. Last year they got away with having a piss poor pitching staff with Britton closing, and a tremendous offense. This year not so much.
I don’t see the Orioles making the playoffs this year.
4) The Oakland Athletics are presently last in the AL West with a 31-38 won/loss record. They just swept the Yankees in a 4-games series to place their home record at 22-13. However, away from home is an entirely different story… they are 9-25.
In your opinion, is there any way to explain such a wide disparity between their home and away records?
One thought would be they just lose confidence and are less functional when they go on the road and they’re a much better team at home, but that just isn’t saying much since Oakland isn’t a good team with Sonny Gray having a down year. But, I think with their stadium being bigger, they can rely on their offense more and their pitching is a little better at home which certainly helps.
Now they are 12-0 on Tuesdays after kicking the Yankees’ ass this past Tuesday.
Steve: Other than they feel more comfortable at home, that is the only logical explanation behind the A’s doing so well at home.
The A’s are not a very good baseball team, and that shows with their road woes. I think they will come back down to Earth at home as well, as they may finish around .500 but that is the best I give them.
5) In your opinion, what are the chances the Houston Astros make a deal for another starting pitcher by the trade deadline, regardless of whether Dallas Keuchel makes a successful return off the 10-day DL? And, if you think they do make a play for another starter who is the most likely target?
Archie: Houston’s pitching is not bad at all and if Keuchel makes a successful return (or at least forecasted to) they may stand pat. IF, they do look for another starter they may start with a trade deal with Atlanta for Garcia.
I think they will and one of the most likely targets would be Sonny Gray. Billy Bean has even said that he has no problem trading within the division, especially if it is beneficial to the Oakland Athletics and I feel like the Astros can give them something worthwhile. The one thing that also favors the Astros in getting Sonny Gray is he’s having a down year and he’s likely the most tradeable candidate out of the group of five pitchers on the market with the most trade talk entering the season.
Joe: If Keuchel doesn’t come back before the trade deadline, I give the Stros a 70% chance to try and get another starter. Doesn’t mean they will but they will be making the rounds and doing their due diligence. If, Keuchel comes back sooner… drop that down to 50-50.
But, this team, as constructed, so far seems to be fine as is. They really don’t need to over pay for a starter, but, hell, if they can get one for a decent price? Then why not? I am a firm believer in the old baseball saw that you can never have too much pitching.
As for who they might try and trade for? I’m not sure but as far as I’m concerned the usual suspects… like Sonny Gray and Jose Quintana… just ain’t instilling a lot of confidence and I think they will look for someone who ain’t an obvious choice.
Steve: At this point in time, I don’t think you do anything to the Astros. They are winning, and they have themselves such a comfortable lead in the West, they can afford a few injuries here and there. They have such a great offense, they are going to keep them in every game. The only way I make a play for another starting pitcher is if Keuchel is out until late July. If, he comes back true to form, then the Astros should be tasting the AL title this year as predicted by Sports Illustrated years ago. The Astros are fine.
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