Sunday, April 30, 2017

Major League Baseball: April 2017

With the end of April, there have been some interesting storylines for Major League Baseball. Certain teams most expect to get a postseason spot are struggling. Some divisions are shaping up to be a tough one. Let's take a look.

The American League East is one where pretty much everybody has a fair chance at the division and potentially a wildcard spot. For the Baltimore Orioles, they have put up good numbers despite pitching problems. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are getting runs while having some strong pitching, especially with good bullpens. At Tampa Bay, the Rays are okay. It's a matter of how both the batting and pitching will sustain a 162 game season. Really, the Toronto Blue Jays are a shocker for struggling so much this month. While this isn't a panic mode compared to other sports, if things don't go to a winning side in May, changes are going to happen.

In the AL Central, it's close with similar stuff like the East. The Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians have picked up with some good pitching and decent power at the plate. Starting off strong was the Minnesota Twins, but they have fallen a little flat. Age is a factor for the Detroit Tigers, and the Kansas City Royals doesn't have much going for them. The death of Yordano Ventura doesn't help. I really can't say much on the West division. They are either hot or cold. The Houston Astros are at the top with some young players on the mound and at the plate. Power is not a problem for the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, and Seattle Mariners. Can they avoid slumps and can the pitching help carry them to a division title?

Getting into the National League, it's all a matter of what the Washington Nationals do. They look to be the East's top team and maybe of its league. They got power and great starters when healthy. The Philadelphia Phillies are a surprise, but I would wait until the end of May to see how this division looks. It is a surprise the New York Mets are in last place, but they could flick the switch to be a great team depending on the health of their pitchers. That can also be said for the Miami Marlins, but with their batting, specifically Giancarlo Stanton. Relying on a few 40 plus year old pitchers, I don't have much confidence in the Atlanta Braves.

It is tight in the NL Central with the Chicago Cubs leading the way, but barely. Can they avoid the championship hangover? Their batting and pitching is good, but it has to be better if they want to defend their title. As far as the other teams go, the Milwaukee Brewers is surprising with the run support. Like most of the AL West, can they avoid slumps? The pitching might be a problem if they can't get past other teams. Despite being in second place, pitching is also a concern if I'm the St. Louis Cardinals. If it can't carry them, it will be a long year. Not much can be said for the Cincinnati Reds. On any day, they can get the hits and runs while dominating fro the mound. Can it do that for the whole season?

San Francisco is the big storyline in the West. The Giants lost their main starter for a few months after a mediocre start to begin the season. With some good batters, someone has to step up for the starting pitching and the bullpen can't suffer another collapse. Fear is not a worry for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. Having hot bats and surprisingly exceptional pitching has propelled these two to the top of the division. The Los Angeles Dodgers are not far away with the same kind of stuff, and they could be a first place team at the end of May. Anything can happen in this division. And the San Diego Padres are the same old, same old. They got power, but can't hit for anything and their pitching is pretty mediocre. It's another year of disappointment for the city.

Keep your eyes on the AL East and NL West. The teams could flip flop in divisional races as the year goes on. I would say the NL Central and East will see certain teams improve from where they are right now. And the West could come down to two teams at the end of September. For 2017, it will pack some big surprises.

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