Cream of the crop:
1- Dodgers (6-0) – The Dodgers did not play week 4 due to rain. The Dodgers are the only undefeated team in the league and play the Mariners (3-5) on Sunday. Should be a great game, the Mariners are coming off two wins and look to keep it going. I’ll have to give the edge this coming week to the Dodgers. The Mariners have not been hitting the ball well and will really have to score runs to match the Dodgers offense, which has two less games than ½ the league and still lead the league in hits.
2- Padres – (5-1) The Padres also did not play week 4 due to rain. The Padres face the Giants and Yankees on Sunday. We have to wait and see if the Padres draw the Yankees, Mike Weiner, when they play. The Yankees may opt to pitch Weiner vs the Giants. A Weiner vs Robles or K-Von game would be a great matchup. The Padres have the best team pitching in the league and the name of the game is pitching. I predict that the Yankees pitch Weiner vs the Giants and the Padres win two this week and up the record to 7-1.
3- Giants (5-3) – The Giants announced that Tim McElrath is dealing with an injury and may not pitch for a while. The Giants had the good fortune however of Dave Fisher making his 2017 debut. Fisher pitched 5 innings of shutout ball and struck out 13 batters last week. If Fisher continues to have outings like that the Giants may not give up their # 3 seeding. The Giants get a tough assignment this Sunday, playing the Padres (Robles/K-Von) and the Yankees. If the Yankees decide to pitch Weiner vs the Giants, it’s possible the Giants could drop to 5-5 on the season.
4- Expos (5-3) – The Expos have been defying the odds and have a 5-3 record. One would think that a team playing without Ryan Bush and Kenny Rodgers would have bigger issues winning games. After a slow start they have gotten hot. Their pitching has been great the last few weeks and they have had some timely hitting. The Expos get “the game of the week” this week and play the Cinderella Royals (4-2), who have been on the verge of being considered a legitimate playoff team this year. A split would keep both teams in the center of playoff talks but two losses to either team could send them into a tail spin out of the top 6 in the standings.
5- Mariners (3-5) – The Mariners are hitting their stride but face the Dodgers (6-0) this Sunday. This game will be their toughest game for a while, as the schedule lets up some after this week. If the Mariners can split this week they will be off to the races after that. 8 of their last 12 games are against teams who did not make the playoffs last year and 6 of the next 12 games are against teams with less than two wins this year.
6- Diamondbacks (4-4): The D-Backs lost two this past week but their schedule will be light for a few upcoming weeks. They play the Astros and Cardinals 4 times in the next 6 games, two teams who have been having issues getting wins this year. The Diamondbacks should win 4 out of their next 6 games and will be in a good position to unleash Devin Torres at the All-star break, probably with a (8-6) record by then.
On the brink of a playoff spot:
7- Yankees (4-4) – Mike Weiner did his thing this past week, pitching a no-hitter against the Cardinals (only allowing 1 walk). The Yankees then took game two against the Cardinals who were missing Jimmy Cole in the lineup. The Yankees are similar to the Royals in that both teams have a legitimate ace and are waiting for their #2 to kick it into second gear. Greg Tyler has been eating up innings (18) and has a respectable 2.78 ERA. He is good enough to win in any given week which continues to make the Yankees a threat to claim a playoff spot. Daniel Whitener did not make it this past week but pitched a great game week 3 vs the Giants. They Yankees have pitching depth and are a dangerous team every week.
8- Royals (4-2) –The Royals did not play week 4 due to rain. The (4-2) record indicates that they are in the mix for a playoff spot however it will take consistent positive outings on the carpet for Ryan Petrone for the Royals to be legitimate. Ryan Petrone’s last pitching performance against the D-Backs was a very positive one. The Royals have shown that they have the firepower to get ace Oliver Avallone enough offense to get him some wins. They are in the mix for a possible playoff spot. The Royals have two less games played than some of the teams in the league and currently their overall win/loss % has them ranked 3rd in the league. As manager of the Royals, I will enjoy how the standings looks for the next week and see where we end up after Sundays games.
9- Brewers (2-7) The Brewers have now beat the Diamondbacks and the Giants this year. With two teams in the league with less wins, I can no longer rank the Brewers last in the power rankings. The Brewers will have their shot to keep the 9th seed in the standings and power rankings this week against the Cardinals. It appears that Tim Caulfield will be allowed to return to the minors this week after a one week call-up against the Giants where he got the Brewers their second win. The Brewers need to capitalize and win two this coming Sunday against the Cardinals, who have not been able to get the big hit when they need it so far this year.
10- Astros (1-5) – The Astros did not play Week 4 due to rain. The Astros play the Diamondbacks on Sunday and it could be bad news for the Astros. The Diamondbacks are coming off two losses and will likely be coming out guns blazing against an Astros team who have been trying to find their identity so far this year. The Astros need to a great pitching performance this week if they are going to avoid being stung by the Diamondbacks.
11- Cardinals (1-7) –The Cardinals have been coming up just short of a win each week and Week 4 was more of the same, with a 1-0 loss to the Yankees. The usually dependable Jimmy Cole did not make it Week 4, weakening the Cardinals lineup some. Rob Longiaru pitched 8 innings over 2 games which gives the notion that the Cardinals are also dealing with pitching arm issues. At (1-7) I have no choice but to rank them this low. They will have their chance this week to get out of the 11th seed, should they be able to muster up a couple of wins against the Brewers.