Now that the All Star Break is over and “Puig”mania appears to finally be under control. Where does your team rank in this week’s top ten? Here you go:
#1 St Louis Cardinals
Until the Cardinals give me a big reason to, I can’t justify knocking them out of the top spot. The rotation is a concern if you ask me though. Wainwright is obviously as good as it gets, but Lynn is going to need to be really good in the second half to take some pressure off Miller and the #5 guy. By the way: After their series with the Phillies, the Cardinals go on a brutal 11 game road trip against the Braves, Pirates, and Reds.
#2 Tampa Bay Rays
This may offend many Red Sox fans, especially since the Red Sox have been in 1st place for so long, but I have to go with the hot hand. The Rays have now won 13 out of 14 and 20 out of 24 overall. By the way: The Rays have given up more than 3 runs just once in the past 9 games and twice in the last 13.
#3 Boston Red Sox
The good news for the Red Sox is they have a perfect opportunity to cool down the Rays starting Monday. The bad news? They will have to face Moore, Price, and Hellickson. Coming off an extra inning win against the Yankees, the Sox need to have a statement series at home against Tampa. By the way: After such a hot start, Lester only has a total of 9 quality starts in 20 tries.
#4 Pittsburgh Pirates
Losing 2 out of 3 to the Reds was not how the Pirates wanted to start the second half. I know everyone else is really high on this team, but with an overworked bullpen, subpar offense, and a rotation with a small amount of playoff experience, the Pirates are walking on a tightrope in my mind. It feels like they can’t afford ANY type of skid. By the way: Starling Marte is having a very quiet/stellar 10 HR, 28 SB season.
#5 Oakland Athletics
Nothing pretty to see here, but the A’s just keep grinding out win after win. I would be slightly annoyed if am an A’s fan though. Why was Cespedes okay for the HR derby, but not for the 1st 3 games of the second half? By the way: The Reds are the only team with a better WHIP. Such an underrated rotation.
#6 Atlanta Braves
Good news all around for the Braves right now. The second best pitching staff in the MLB is about to play 25 of their next 28 games against teams with records below .500, former ace Brandon Beachy could be back really soon, and Freeman/Heyward are back. By the way: Brian McCann is hitting .392 with 4 HR in the month of July.
#7 Detroit Tigers
Sigh. I am running out of ways to say how much this team is underachieving. I still can’t convince myself that this team isn’t going to get hot though….but I am getting much closer. By the way: Miguel Cabrera has slowed down, now only on pace for 52 HR and 160 RBI.
#8 Cincinnati Reds
Good start for the Reds in the second half taking 2 out of 3 from the Pirates. This team has arguably the most compete rotation in the Central and is capable of making a serious run if they pitch up to their potential. By the way: The Reds have the best WHIP in the MLB, which is crucial with the bandbox that is “Great American Ball Park”.
#9 Los Angeles Dodgers
This team is getting healthy and (coincidently) hot at the same time. Kershaw/Greinke/Ryu is a really good 1-2-3 trio and the combination of Hanley Ramirez/Adrian Gonzalez continues to mash. If they can keep all their pieces healthy, they could start to run away with this division. By the way: Puig has 1 extra base hit in his last 13 games, while watching his average drop over 60 points.
#10 Baltimore Orioles
I actually really enjoy watching this team play, especially Manny Machado, but I don’t know if the pitching can hold up. 28th in ERA, 22nd in WHIP, and 26th in BAA against doesn’t exactly say “serious contender”. By the way: Everyone is talking about Davis, but Machado actually has a better WAR (wins above replacement) and has been much more consistent.
Tell me how wrong I am on twitter @Cole_Stevenson