Cream of the crop: (Three teams are separating themselves from the pack)
01-Dodgers (10-2) The Dodgers reclaimed 1st place after a showdown on Sunday with the Padres. As expected both games were close and came down to their last at bats. The Dodgers enter the all-star break 2nd in (team hits and batting avg.) and are in the top three in most pitching categories. They are a well balanced team and showed that in their two wins against the Padres. The Dodgers own the tie breakers with both the Padres and Expos due to head to head record during the season. (remaining schedule; Yankees, Royals, D-Backs, Astros (1), Brewers(1), Giants)
02-Padres – (9-3) The Padres had sole possession of 1st place however it did not last long after two losses to the Dodgers this past week. The good news is that they will no doubt afford themselves another opportunity come playoff time. The next thing to watch for now is week 10 (08/27/17) Expos vs Padres. One of these teams could claim a first round bye that week. (remaining schedule; Brewers, D-Backs, Giants (1), Royals (1), Expos, Royals)
03-Expos (9-3) – Expos are 1st in team (hits, HR, batting average and runs scored). All without Kenny Rodgers in the lineup. Like last season they have the hitting to carry a suspect pitching staff. Should make for some interesting games down the stretch run if the 2017 season. (remaining schedule; Giants (2), Yankees (1), Mariners (1), Cards (3) , Padres (2), D-Backs (1)
Fighting for playoff spots 4-6:]
04-Diamondbacks (7-5): (remaining schedule; cards (2), Astros (1), Padres (2), Dodgers (2), Giants (2), Expos (1). A look at the remaining schedule shows a tough road to the playoffs. Other than the Cards and Astros the D-Backs will face the top ranked teams for 7 out of their last 10 games. It should be fun to watch, they are in a perfect position to put themselves in the elite group of the league for the 2017 season. They are currently in 5th place with remaining games against the 4 teams ahead of them in the standings. As a “Royal” I hope that those teams can give them some losses and push them away from contention for a playoff spot however they could just as well swap places with one of the top three teams in the league with some sweeps against the Padres or Dodgers or a win against the Giants or Expos. The standings are far from settled this early in the season.
05-Giants (7-5) – Similar to the D-Backs the Giants road to the playoffs will be some fight. (Remaining schedule; Expos (2), Cards (2), Padres (1), Royals (1), D-Backs (2), Dodgers (2). 9 out of the remaining 10 games are against playoff contending teams. There is no telling how the standings will end up. We will have to wait and see how it plays out.
06-Yankees (6-6) – (remaining schedule; Dodgers (2), Mariners (1), Expos (1), Brewers (2), Royals (2), Astros (2). Five of the remaining ten games are against teams with losing records. It should be noted however that the lower teams in the league have made moves to improve themselves. As long as the Yankees have Mike Weiner you have to figure they are good for at least a split each week and an 11-11 record by years end. Anything more will be gravy.
07-Royals (7-5) –The Royals are hoping Kenny Rodgers comes back to the Expos in the second half of the season so the Expos could rub out some of their competition. The Expos have the (Giants, Yankees and D-Backs) on their remaining schedule, all teams fighting for a playoff spots. The Royals made two trades to set up their team for the stretch run in obtaining Dakota Kenny to be their #2 starter and then trading (the still improving) Ryan Petrone to make room for Dakota Kenny …. only to change their philosophy and trade Dakota Kenny and obtain Gerard Fitzgerald (after the Astros reached out to them). There are two rules of thinking. (1) Have a dominate #2 starter so you can match up better vs the rest of the leagues #2 pitchers or (2) go for broke, obtain a hitter of Fitzgerald’s caliber and put yourself in a position where you may be able to beat any pitcher in the league. The latter is what the Royals did in hopes of getting to 11 wins. The pickup of Fitzgerald puts them in a better position to win a game in which Oliver Avallone is pitching. The Royals will go with more 3 and 4 man lineups in the second half and will depend on Gerard Fitzgerald to continue his quality pitching, and hold down the # 2 spot in the rotation. (remaining schedule; Mariners (2), Dodgers (2), Giants (1) , Yankees (2), Padres (3)
Long, long road ahead of them:
08-Mariners (3-9) – You are what your record says you are at this point. It’s hard to rank them higher. The talent is there but they have come up short so far this year. As noted before they do not have a tough schedule the remainder of the season. One would figure 11 wins would get you into the playoffs, 10 in some cases. That being said they will need to go 8-2 over the remainder of the season. It’s not farfetched but every series that they do not sweep the remainder of the season may likely bump them from contention. (remaining schedule; Royals, Yankees, Expos, Cards , Brewers)
09-Cardinals (3-9) –The Cardinals dug themselves a hole in the early going. They have a quality team but lost some close games and have had some attendance issues. As a “Royal” I’m all for the Cardinals getting hot and making a playoff run. That would mean lots of losses for playoff contending teams. They are good enough to beat any team that they play and will be dangerous. Teams will “need” wins against the Cardinals to make the playoffs and all losses to the Cardinals will sting their opponents and make a mess of the standings. Is 8-2 possible?? The schedule is pretty rough. (D-Backs/Astros, Giants/Giants, Expos/Expos, Mariners/Mariners, Expos/D-Backs).
10-Brewers (3-9) After trading Dakota Kenny to the Royals, the Brewers and Royals then made a second deal. The Brewers obtained young fire baller Ryan Petrone for a 2018 draft pick. Ryan Petrone will fill the void in the pitching staff which Kenny vacated. He has a live arm and is still improving. Manager Jason Paraskevas thinks Anthony Bevilacqua’s experience will help Petrone progress as a Palisades WBL pitcher. The remaining schedule for the Brewers may not have much playoff implications. (remaining schedule; Padres (2), Astros, (3), Yankees (2), Dodgers (1), Mariners (2)).
11-Astros (2-10) –The Astros traded Gerard Fitzgerald (Fitz) to the Royals for Dakota Kenny (DK) and a 1st round draft pick for next year (which belongs to the D-Backs). In the trade they upgraded their pitching. They also obtained another building block (in the draft pick) for their 2018 season. Ironically enough after trading for DK, DK pitched against the Royals and beat them. Will that win at some point cost them the 1st overall pick of the 2018 draft?... lol. Now how’s this for a twist. The (2-8) Astros have three games remaining against the 3-9 Brewers. Are they better off beating the Brewers and give up the 1st overall pick to the Mariners (who currently own the Brewers 2018 1st round draft pick). No one wants to come to the field and lose but finishing the season in 10 or 9th place forgoes a few spots in the 2018 draft. (remaining schedule; D-Backs/Cards, Brewers/Brewers, Mariners/Mariners, Dodgers/Brewers, Yankees/Yankees)