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 “to-do” 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’s 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’t 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’t 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’s 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’t 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.
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