As we head down the stretch in the MLB playoff race, there are things every team is worrying about, along with getting into the postseason. Here is a ‚Äúto-do‚ÄĚ list for your current playoff front-runners:
Atlanta Braves: Gain home field advantage and get J-Hey some playing time.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Braves have been miserable on the road and even worse without Heyward in the lineup. It‚Äôs hard to see this young team making a run without at least one of those things happening. The bullpen will be fresher this year though.
Boston Red Sox: Get Clay Buchholz on track.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† We know how good the Boston lineup is, but there are a couple of AL teams with loaded lineups. The Sox need Buchholz pitching well and deeper into games if they want to make a world series run. Yes, he won his first two starts, but 6 innings and 4 walks against a subpar Yankees offense (22nd in OBP) is not the kind of start the Sox are looking for in October.
St Louis Cardinals: Win division and find a #2 behind Wainwright.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Without a clear cut #2, this team really needs to win the division so that they don‚Äôt have to use Wainwright in a 1-game playoff. Also, whoever the #2 is, will have to step up big time and get through some innings. The Cardinals do not want to get into a bullpen battle every night with the Braves, Pirates, or Dodgers.¬†
Detroit Tigers: Get Justin Verlander straightened out.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† It might be too late at this point, but the difference between having the 2012 version of Verlander and having the 2013 version could be the difference in a World Series or 1st round exit for the Tigers. He has given up at least 3 runs in 6 of his last 8 starts.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Get Yasiel Puig on board with how things work.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Yes, the kid is exciting to watch, but if he doesn‚Äôt cut down his mental and physical errors, he could really cost this team in a close game. He makes far too many defensive mistakes and often runs into outs with his aggressiveness.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Stay out of a 1-game playoff.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† This team has really been struggling lately and lacks the postseason experience of the Reds and Cardinals. A one game playoff would likely be tougher for this team than any other.
Cincinnati Reds: Stay healthy.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† While they still have a chance, it would be tough to pass both the Cards and Pirates in the Central. Stay healthy, stay consistent, and be hot when it really counts. I like this team‚Äôs chances in a 1-game playoff with the kinds of weapons they have.
Oakland Athletics: Keep Bartolo Colon fresh.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Until his last start, Colon hadn‚Äôt thrown more than 6 innings in 7 straight starts. You would hope for more than that from your horse in October. Also, who is the #2 guy? Griffin has been the hotter hand as of late.
Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers: Just hold on and get in.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Both teams have been clinging to their playoff lives and with a handful of teams on their tail, that is unlikely to change.
Tell me how wrong I am on twitter @Cole_Stevenson