Now that we’re in the midst of August, the pennant races in Main League Baseball are heating up just like the Arizona desert.
There are solely two divisions the place a crew is working away from the remainder of the sphere, and each reside within the Nationwide League.
The slugging Atlanta Braves have been dominating the NL East for months, and at present lead second place Philadelphia by 12.5 video games with a 78-42 document.
Within the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers have opened up a ten.5-game lead on San Francisco after profitable 11 consecutive video games. The Dodgers simply swept the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game sequence, a lot to the delight of Cincinnati Reds followers.
The NL Central stays a three-team race with the Brewers holding a two-game lead over the Chicago Cubs and the Reds heading into Friday’s motion.
The three American League divisions seem like a race to the end.
The upstart Baltimore Orioles are clinging to a two-game lead within the AL East over Tampa Bay, with the Toronto Blue Jays 7.5 video games again.
Within the AL Central, one of the best crew in a mediocre division is Minnesota, and the Twins lead Cleveland by 4.5 video games.
The AL West race has the Texas Rangers holding off the defending world champion Houston Astros by 2.5 video games, with Seattle hanging in at six video games off the tempo.
The Wild Card playoff spots stay in query and can seemingly go right down to the ultimate weekend of the season.
There are at least seven groups within the Nationwide League within the hunt for the three Wild Playing cards, which ought to make for an thrilling wrap-up to the lengthy season. The Phillies are main the way in which, with the Giants a few video games behind them. The ultimate Wild Card spot is a dogfight among the many Cubs, Marlins and Reds, who’re in a digital tie at this level.
Lurking behind them are the Arizona Diamondbacks, who’re only a recreation behind for the ultimate spot, and the San Diego Padres, who’re nonetheless clinging to a little bit of hope, regardless of a 58-64 document. Regardless of a disappointing season for the big-spending Padres, they’re simply 5 video games behind in making an attempt to seize the third Wild Card.
Within the American League, the Rays and Astros are main the way in which, with the Blue Jays holding the third Wild Card spot, 5.5 video games behind Tampa Bay, and three in again of Houston. The Mariners are only a half-game behind Toronto, and the Pink Sox are hanging in at 3.5 video games behind the Blue Jays.
The 2 finest groups in every league will get a bye within the first spherical of the playoffs, and as issues stand on the
second within the Nationwide League, which means the Braves and Dodgers will get the break.
The bottom-seeded division winner (at present the Brewers) and three wild card groups, every seeded in line with their common season document, will play a best-of-three Wild Card spherical, with the upper seed internet hosting all three video games.
If the season ended right now, which means the Phillies would host the Cubs, and the Brewers would host the Giants.
As of right now within the American League, the Orioles and Rangers would obtain the byes, with the Rays internet hosting the Twins, and the Astros internet hosting the Blue Jays.
All of that is prone to change nonetheless, with so many groups nonetheless in rivalry.
REDS PRIMED FOR A POSTSEASON PUSH? – The Cincinnati Reds started an necessary three-game sequence in opposition to the Toronto Blue Jays Friday night time at Nice American Ball Park simply two video games behind NL Central Division main Milwaukee, and a recreation again for the ultimate Wild Card spot.
Heading into the sequence versus the Canadians, 40 video games stay within the season for the Reds, and with a document of 63-59, the crew must win no less than 25 of these 40 to ensure a postseason place. That will give the Reds an 88-74 mark, which needs to be sufficient to earn
both a division title, or a Wild Card spot. Merely going .500 the remainder of the way in which would imply an 83-79 document, which might seemingly fall brief.
It’s not possible to foretell how this younger Reds crew will shut out the season, however they positively have a professional shot to make the playoffs.
The pitching workers is about to get some much-needed reinforcements, with Hunter Greene slated to start out tomorrow in opposition to Toronto, and Nick Lodolo anticipated to return by the top of the month. Tejay Antone could possibly be a lift to the drained bullpen and he could also be prepared in every week or so.
The Reds might really put collectively a promising beginning rotation the remainder of the way in which and into subsequent 12 months, with Greene, Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, Andrew Abbott and Brandon Williamson probably being a bunch to be reckoned with. These 5 are able to giving the crew dependable beginning pitching and hopefully six or seven innings each time they go to the mound. That, after all, comes with a caveat, which might be staying wholesome.
If the starters can maintain up their finish of the cut price and the bullpen follows go well with, it is going to then be as much as the offense, which has struggled mightily in latest weeks. A part of the explanation for that has been the lack of Jonathan India and Jake Fraley to accidents in latest weeks, and a few of it
could possibly be that the crew is urgent and making an attempt to do issues they’re merely not able to doing, reminiscent of making an attempt to knock the ball into the Ohio River. They’ll hit a couple of lengthy balls merely due to the park they play most of their video games in, however this Reds crew is most profitable when it places the ball in play, retains stress on the protection, and makes use of its pace.
The one participant on the crew with any actual pennant race expertise is Joey Votto, however his bat has been an enormous query mark. Votto has offered some energy (13 dwelling runs) however he’s additionally been struggling to maintain his batting common above .200. He nonetheless has some pop nonetheless, and he’s additionally been a optimistic affect to a younger, inexperienced group of gamers.
The younger gamers are in unfamiliar territory, taking part in extra video games than at anytime of their careers, in addition to making an attempt to place collectively productive at-bats. There have been a number of gamers who’ve been for probably the most half constant on the dish, and actually make this crew go.
Elly De la Cruz, a participant with the best potential ceiling of any 21-year-old in baseball, is dealing with lofty expectations regardless of his youth and inexperience. EDLC is enjoyable to observe and he can do issues most gamers can not, however he nonetheless must be extra selective on the plate and minimize down on his strikeouts. If he lays off of pitches out of the zone and takes a stroll when the chance arises, he could possibly be
the most important menace within the lineup and an important participant on the crew.
Spencer Steer, TJ Friedl and Matt McLain are three younger gamers who’ve carried out above expectations and collectively, they’ve been counted upon to make the offense churn.
Steer leads the crew in video games performed (117), at-bats (434), hits (117), doubles (27), dwelling runs (18) and runs batted in with 66. He’s additionally hitting .270 and has swiped 11 bases whereas giving the Reds stable protection at three positions.
Friedl, who made an incredible dwelling run-robbing catch on Wednesday, must be within the leadoff spot the remainder of the season. He has confirmed to be among the finest defensive heart fielders in baseball, and he’s a throwback sort of participant who at all times offers one hundred pc. Friedl additionally leads the Reds with 23 stolen bases, and leads the world in bunt hits.
McLain is my private favourite participant at present on the roster. He will not be as flashy and athletic as De La Cruz, however he isn’t far behind. He’s only a flat-out baller, a man who always hustles and will get absolutely the most out of his abilities. Not that he isn’t expert; he has a robust arm, stunning energy, and good pace on the bases as effectively.
McLain has remained proper across the .300 mark since he was known as up from Louisville, and the previous UCLA star is at present hitting .298 with 13 homers and 44 RBI. His lone weak point is one which he shares with EDLC, which is one which each will seemingly enhance upon over time, and that’s putting out an excessive amount of.
Different gamers have stepped up at completely different occasions, and for the Reds to make it to the postseason, that can proceed to be integral to their postseason hopes.
We’re speaking about gamers reminiscent of Will Benson, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Stuart Fairchild, and sure, Covington Catholic and UK product Luke Maile. The strong-armed catcher offers management for a younger membership and his bat has come up massive at occasions as effectively.
The Reds would like to see Tyler Stephenson step it up as effectively, and he might nonetheless be a key piece to the puzzle down the stretch. It simply seems he isn’t the identical hitter he was earlier than breaking his collarbone final season.
“Life could be infinitely happier if we might solely be born at age 80 and steadily strategy 18.” – Mark Twain
“Winter will spring; summer time will fall.” – Americana singer/songwriter/musician Scott Miller