|Jon Lester Served First Loss in 6-4 Defeat to Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox||Avery Bradley’s Role With the Celtics: Present and Future||Connelly’s Top Ten: Bruins Up 2-0||2013 NBA Playoffs Expert Picks: Third Round|
The trade deadline has come and gone, and some contenders have made some big moves to up their chances of playoff glory. Ubaldo Jimenez and Hunter Pence, not to mention Michael Bourn (the Astros were really sellers, weren’t they?) are all in great positions to make a push. So is Erik Bedard, though he isn’t as high-profile as the others. At this point, aside from the NL East, every division is being led by 2.0 or 2.5 games, and the Wildcards also have very solid leads as well. Which team’s moves will help their chances? Which teams have dropped out of the race? Let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Monday, August 1, before the day’s games:
After leading the division last week, a huge fall from grace has the Pirates 4.5 games behind the six-wins-in-a-row Brewers. And while the Phillies haven’t been infallible, they do still have all the tools needed to go all the way, and they still don’t have Roy Oswalt back. And they have Hunter Pence now.
While Carlos Beltran hasn’t been awe-inspiring in his time with the Giants, Michael Bourn nearly doubles the Braves‘ stolen base totals (39 against the rest of the team’s 42). However, San Francisco does still have an impressive staff; Lincecum is still Lincecum, and Ryan Vogelsong hasn’t lost since May 26, his only loss of the season. And with Brian Wilson bringing up the rear, the Giants still have a definite edge, even without the most powerful of offenses.
While Detroit is enjoying a 2.5-game lead over the Indians, Boston is still 2.0 games ahead of the Yankees, and still has one of the most, if not the most, destructive offenses in the league. How else could they be so good with such horrible pitching? With Erik Bedard in the fold, Boston now has extra options, and can move one of their lesser talented starters to the bullpen to provide some help there. If everything pans out, Boston is still the AL’s team to beat.
Texas greatly improved their bullpen to go with their bats, adding Koji Uehara and Mike Adams. The Yankees were conspicuously quiet in the trade market, though they didn’t necessarily have to make noise with their record. Still, with their new pitching help and powerful offense, look for the Rangers to dispatch with the Yankees once more.