Friday, July 19, 2013

Baseball - preview of the second half of the season

The all star break ends tomorrow, its a good time to preview what awaits us in the second half of the season.

I'll start with the AL East, where my Boston Red Sox are leading the majors so far, despite a shaky bullpen and, in my opinion, an overachieving rotation that will probably see Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront drop in production in the second half of the season.It will be interesting to see how and when does Clay Buchholtz return from his injury, and how long can Jon Lester continue beeing the weak spot in the rotation.After Brandon Workman's stellar debut as a starter it seems like the Sox at least have some depth (along with Allen Webster). It will be also interesting to see when will top prospect Xander Bogaerts make his debut, and what will he look like then.
The Sox are currently leading the division by 2.5 over Tampa Bay and 4.5 over Baltimore, which of course leads to another interesting question - when and by how much will Chris Davis' home run rate slow down? I don't really see him breaking Roger Maris' record (forget the PED controversy with McGwire and Bonds, Roger Maris is still the all time single season record holder at least in the American League), but will he reach 55?
And will Miguel Cabrera reach 50 and at least challenge for another Triple Crown? And speaking of the Tigers, after Max Scherzer had his first loss of the season right before the break - will it be the beginning of a slide, or will he continue to dominate and keep being the leading AL Cy Young candidate? The Tigers have a 1.5 game lead over the Indians, that seem like just won't give up.Considering Cleveland's relatively easy schedule in the remainder of the season, this could turn up to be an epic battle for the division.
In the AL West it will be Oakland vs. Texas all the way.It's funny to see the Angels have almost the same distance from Oakland (11 games) as they have from Houston (11.5). Did I say funny? I meant sad.
Moving to the National League - starting with the East.It currently looks like it's Atlanta's to lose with a 6 game lead over Washington and 6.5 over Philadelphia.The Phillies seem like they're overachieving, and the drop is soon to come, but with Cole Hammels still shaky they do have room to impove.The Nationals are making everybody expect the rise that will come - it hasn't come yet, but there still is time.
The NL Central  is currently where the action is.St. Louis are leading Pittsburgh by one game and Cincinnati by 5.Its going to be close, and everybody will keep asking the same question - will Pittsburgh make it to the playoffs? That, of course, after they're done with asking whether Pittsburgh will finish over .500.
And in the NL West it will be all about the Dodgers vs. Arizona. Currently the Diamondbacks are 2.5 games ahead, but anything can happen, especially with Yasiel Puig (a whole story by itself - will he suffer from a production drop once the opposing pitchers get used to him?), Clayton Kershaw and whoever else will join at the trade deadline.The Rockies are still hanging in, but I doubt they'll stay relevant in September, and the Giants are definitely out of it.

So there it is in brief, a lot of storylines to follow in the second half, I'll try to post more as the season progresses.