This week, I will write a two part column about the risers and sinkers in the MLB since the All-Star Break. This is Part 1, talking about the sinkers.
The Kansas City Royals are in first place in the AL Central. Yes, you read that right. They haven’t been in 1st place this late in the season since 2003. They haven’t made the playoffs since 1985, when they won the World Series.
Then their’s the Tigers. One of the most dominate teams over the past couple of years. They haven’t gotten to their cherished goal, a World Series title. They’eve came close. Now, their playoff hopes are becoming dashed. So what happened?
The first problem is their bullpen. They traded for Joakim Soria, who is currently on the DL. They got a struggling Jim Johnson, and Joe Nathan. All three of these guys are former All-Stars.
Their bullpen is worse than the Tigers believe. They have names, as listed above, plus Joba Chamberlian. Again, this team should be better. They have a decorated starting rotation, including three Cy Young winners. The offense isn’t a worry. The Tigers are simply in a slump. They sit two games back of the Royals in the AL Central. More concerning, they are barely in a Wild Card spot. They are tied for the 2nd Wild Card spot.
So what needs to happen? Well, a couple of things. First, the Tigers need thier bullpen to step up, and Soria will help. Second, the Royals need to slow down. The Royals toughest test the rest of the season are the Tigers. Slowing down? Good luck.
Another team that has slid, the Atlanta Braves, are in a worse spot than the Tigers. I was very high on this Braves team this year. I knew the Nationals had a great roster, but with a new manager, I didn’t put my heart on them. Knowing they were going to contend for a Wild Card at least, I didn’t underestimate them. I also didn’t prepare myself for what would happen to the Braves the second half of the season. It started when they released Dan Uggla, their struggling 2B, who then failed with the Giants. Then, they just fell apart. They lost eight in a row from July 29-August 6. All though sweeping the A’s this past weekend, the Braves have to get themselves out of this hole. They have a pretty easy schedule through the end of the month. They need to get their mojo back. If the Braves win games, they can get themselves back in the race.
The Tigers are more likely to make the playoffs at this point of the two. They have great pitching, starters wise, and have a killer lineup. The Royals have a decent lead in the Central, so the Tigers will probably have to settle for a Wild Card. The Braves are in a tougher spot. The Giants and Cardinals are better teams than the Braves, and they sit ahead of the Braves. With their easy rest of August schedule, the Braves may creep back into the race.
Part Two Coming Friday