MLB season moving along
After the completion of the next three games, the Major League Baseball season officially is one-third of the way over.
The 2017 year has gone by surprisingly fast so far, and has been a lot less predictable than many preseason publications led fans to believe.
World Series favorites in the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs are struggling to stay above .500. Both may be experiencing some hangover from their trips to the Fall Classic last season.
Cleveland hasn’t been hurt badly by the slow start because the AL Central doesn’t have a team capable of putting space between itself and the Tribe.
Minnesota possesses first place but is living on the edge with a run differential of just one.
Like the Indians, the Cubs aren’t far back in their division race. The champs sit 1.5 games behind Milwaukee, and some wonder where the team is that steamrolled through the NL Central last season.
They are still there, but so far the Central is vastly improved from 2016. All teams sit within 4.5 games of first place, while this might not last and Chicago eventually takes the reigns, it will not be in as dominant a fashion as it was last season.
Meanwhile, the New York Yankees young core of position players are on top of an absolutely loaded American League East division after many gave them little chance to finish this year at or above .500.
It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can keep their current pace as pitchers become familiar with the youngsters (see main example: Judge, Aaron) and how to pitch to them.
Another question is, will the rotation hold up?
Michael Pineda and Luis Severino have performed above their career averages, but can they keep it up? Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t looked like himself and C.C. Sabathia is just old.
New York also benefits from the Red Sox, Orioles, and Blue Jays not being at full health.
However, big waves were made earlier this week after the Jays and Sox executed significant roster moves.
Toronto activated Troy Tulowitzki and 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson from the DL, while the Red Sox called up David Price from Pawtucket. Both teams still have some questions to answer but not as many as a few weeks ago.
Out west the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers are in for one fun summer.
I ripped on Colorado earlier this season for a shaky effort from their ace in the first week but turns out he was hurt.
Since the first week, the Rockies have raced to the best record in the National League and are pitching and hitting well, two things they have never been able to do at the same time in franchise history.
The Diamondbacks have blossomed under first-year player manager Torey Luvollo, but what bothers me the most about these two teams is how they can keep up with what the Dodgers will be able to do at the trade deadline.
L.A. certainly plans to add pieces in late July to make themselves better, but can the Rockies and D’backs mortgage their future by trading prospects to get a rental player?
Only time will tell.
Then you have the preseason predictions that have held true.
Barring a big collapse or the miraculous return to health of the Mets starting pitching rotation, the Washington Nationals are winning the NL East.
I am intrigued to see just how badly the Houston Astros finish in front of everyone else in the AL West. I was reluctant to pick this division at the beginning of the year because I really couldn’t decipher between the two Texas teams.
Happy reading and we will talk baseball again at the All-Star Break.
Contact Joe Albright at email@example.com