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It’s the middle of June, and many of the top teams are starting to slip. In fact, only three active winning streaks are longer than two games. But those streaks are making it a much more exciting race. While not all of the divisions are exactly close, the Wildcard races provide plenty of intrigue to make up for it. Even this late in the season, plenty of surprise teams are persisting, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Monday, June 16, before the day’s games:
The Giants have lost three in a row (and six of seven), but they had so much of a lead built up that their streak barely made a dent. With those being home games to playoff hopefuls Washington and Colorado, San Fran will need to bust out of their slump in a hurry. Fortunately, the Giants don’t play a team that currently has a winning record until July, so they have plenty of time to recover the talent they know they have.
Milwaukee is still in a healthy #2 spot, while the Braves have a one-game lead over both Miami and Washington in the East. Atlanta is still four games behind Milwaukee, though, and has a losing road record, which won’t help as a #3 seed. And Milwaukee has a great mix of star power and supporting cast to make a run.
The Dodgers have done well to keep up all season despite a few injuries, most notably to Carl Crawford. The Cardinals have won three straight and six of seven; the first four of those six wins were shutouts. Still, St Louis’ best pitcher Adam Wainwright will miss a start due to tendinitis in his throwing elbow. Clayton Kershaw will take advantage, and the Dodgers’ have plenty of bats if Wainwright finds himself not at 100%.
Oakland has won its last two games to keep up with its nearest competition, though much of the AL is lackluster as of late. The Athletics have enough pop to keep winning and without any really famous names, can fly under the radar even at the top of the AL. This will be an interesting team to watch in the postseason.
The Blue Jays have had a tough time, but are two games away from both Oakland and Detroit, and 4.5 away from Baltimore and New York. Their penchant for home runs is dangerous, even to Detroit’s powerful staff. Detroit has had a similarly tough time stringing a streak together, and have some excellent bats themselves. Neither side seems to prefer playing at home or away, and each side has remained relatively healthy. Assuming Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer can handle the pressure of a hostile Toronto crowd, they should do fine. One mistake, though, and Detroit could easily be heading home early.
It’s been a long time since Kansas City has been relevant, but here they are, winners of seven straight and rising to challenge Detroit for the division. Still, the Angels are a tough team to beat, between Jered Weaver on the hill and several skilled bats. KC isn’t used to October baseball (and the Angels haven’t been too fortunate the last couple of years), so it will be interesting to see how KC’s balanced team can handle the Angels’ big names.
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB Playoffs, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays