I thought I would take a moment now that the second half has started and make some predictions. We will start with division winners and then look at wildcard.
NL East: Washington Nationals Of course it pains me to say that, but right now the Nats have the starting pitching and bullpen that it takes to win a division.
NL Central: Cincinnati Reds This is a tough one. I think the Pirates will falter but St. Louis will be there all year. I know the Reds just lost Joey Votto for the coming month but I still think they have the best team.
NL West: San Francisco Giants Easy call. The Dodgers just seem to be missing something.
NL Wildcard: Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals There will be alot of teams battling for these 2 spots, including the Pirates, Dodgers, and yes even the Phillies. If the Phillies get healthy and don’t become sellers at the trade deadline (which I don’t think they will) then I think they could make a serious run at the wildcard. I think they have just dug themselves a little too deep of a hole and have too many NL East foes to pass in the end. The Pirates are in a tough division also and will just miss out. I don’t think the Dodgers or Mets are good enough.
AL East: New York Yankees I have nothing to say about that.
AL Central: Detroit Tigers I think their team is really going to gel and take off in the second half. I see them overtaking the White Sox and never looking back.
AL West: Texas Rangers The Los Angeles Angels are going to battle them all year, but I think the Rangers will pull it out in the end.
AL Wildcard: Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox This should be a really interesting race mainly because there are so many teams involved. Most people think the wildcard teams will come from the AL East, but I think the fact that they have to play each other and the Yankees so many times will leave them on the outside looking in. The O’s and Jays are already fading, the Rays have too many injuries and I just don’t see Bobby Valentine leading the Red Sox anywhere. Cleveland will probably fade away. But hey, don’t sleep on the Oakland Athletics! They are 3 games over .500 and could actually be in contention for the wildcard. Now that would be fun.
Now I am going to have to revisit all of these picks after the trade deadline because some teams may be radically different depending on the moves they make ( in other words, I’m giving myself an out!)
Standings: The Braves are 2 1/2 games behind the Nationals in the NL East. The Braves and the Pirates are the wildcard leaders.
Tonight’s Game: Giants LH Barry Zito (7-6, 4.01 ERA) vs RH Jair Jurrjens (3-2, 4.97 ERA) at 7:10 on SportSouth and MLB Network. I will be at Turner Field tonight cheering on Jair and the Braves!