MLB Stretch Run: W2W4

August is only a week away, and most MLB teams have reached the 100 game mark. It is time for the BiCoastal Bias to fill you Frappers in on what to watch for down the stretch.

We’ll start in the American League, where, in contrast to last year, we might have some playoff spots up for grabs coming down to the final week of the season. The thing that strikes me about the AL is that 9 out of 14 teams have winning records, with 2 more within 3 games of that mark. If teams continue these winning ways, we can’t expect any of the division winners to run away with the pennant (with the exception of the Angels, who already have, it appears).

It looks like six teams have a very honest chance at the three remaining playoffs spots: Tampa Bay, Boston, New York, Chicago, Minnesota, and Detroit. While some of you may argue against Detroit, I think Minnesota is the weakest team of the group. While I don’t expect them to fade, they are 7 and 14 against the East, and they have four more series against that division. They have to improve against that mark to stay in the hunt. Likewise, I expect the Yankees to stay in the hunt, though I don’t like their chances of making it. They are getting great starts from Mussina, Pettite, and Joba Chamberlain; but the team has some obvious holes, and I don’t think the addition of Richie Sexson is going to make a big difference.

With that said, the Red Sox and the White Sox are just about everyone’s favorites to win the East and the Central. If someone else is going to push them out, they’re going to have to put a beating on these two teams, which brings me to the two “wild cards” of the group in the truest sense of the word: the Tampa Bay Rays and the Detroit Tigers. The Rays have put themselves among the elite already, but no one knows how they’ll respond to a stretch run that actually matters. Most signs are good: this team is very feisty, and they have a great manager. My guess is that they can put it together to get into the playoffs, but they’ve got to win a few more games on the road where they’ve been terrible. As for Detroit, this team is third in the league in runs scored, but most would agree they’ve been under performing. It’s not hard to imagine Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera catching fire and hitting this team to victory night in and night out. It doesn’t hurt that they have six more series against Cleveland and Kansas City. Now if they could only find a way to ship Edgar Renteria back to the NL since it’s clear this guy can’t hit American League pitching . . .

My prediction: The Red Sox take the East, the White Sox take the Central, and the Rays wrap up the Wild Card.

Stay tuned for an NL break down soon.

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