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Field of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

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Field of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Will Emerson

Welcome, welcome! Time for another edition of Field of Streams, a weekly look at some viable and some not so viable fantasy baseball streaming options for the upcoming week. Is Wood good? Is there a Grimm pitching option this week? Is Francisco Liriano back? Francisco? That’s fun to say! Anyways, away we go. Please remember all stats are going into Saturday, May 11th’s action. Enjoy!

Francisco Liriano

Travis Wood, CHC- In the words of Cosmo Kramer, “It’s the Wood that makes it good. Not only has every one of Travis Wood’s starts this season been of the quality variety, but he has allowed two or fewer earned runs in all but one start. Wood is readily available in most formats, so clearly most people are overlooking his numbers. Well, maybe they just aren’t buying in just yet. Although Wood is sporting a 2.33 ERA, both his xFIP and SIERA are over four and he is only inducing ground balls at a 40% rate. That ground ball rate, a K/9 which, at best, should hover around seven on a good day and a BABIP of under .200, points to Wood receiving a great deal of good luck. Wood has two starts this week, at home versus the Rockies and the Mets. The Rockies have the second highest slugging percentage in the league and the Mets are well, middle of the pack offensively. I would avoid the Rockies start and I am about 50-50 on the Mets start.

Justin Grimm, TEX- Despite a clunker against the Brew Crew in his last outing, Grimm is still very much in the streaming discussion. Grimm’s overall numbers are still very good, with a K/9 over nine and a SIERA of 3.62 points to him being a very serviceable fantasy pitching option. The pundits still feel like the ERA will be closer to the five range and the K-rate will decline, but for now “Reaper” is still looking good. Although it is a two start week for Grimm, this week, I am not full on board with streaming him as he faces two lineups who have been very good offensively, the Athletics and the Tigers. I would actually take Grimm at Oakland but use him at your own risk against the Tigers.

Roberto Hernandez, TB- On the surface, Roberto’s numbers are nothing spectacular. Hernandez is 1-4, with a 4.66 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP, but his SIERA is 3.25 and his K/9 is over nine. There is nothing pointing to this being the norm for Hernandez, but if he keeps pitching the way he is, he should continue to be a good spot start option. Hernandez throws against the Os at Camden Yards this upcoming week. The Orioles have scored the third most runs in the majors this season and actually do not strike out a ton. I like Hernandez for occasional starts, but would steer clear this week.

Francisco Liriano, PIT- Welcome back Francisco Liriano! Fresh of the DL, Liriano was a bit of alright against the Mets. Liriano pitched 5.1 innings, allowing one earned run on six hits, striking out nine and walking just two. Liriano will lock horns with the Brewers this week, a team that is fifth in the majors in OPS, so I wouldn’t be 100% about this start, but I feel confident in saying Liriano is about a 75-80% shot at a quality start here.

Dan Straily, OAK- Okay, okay, so Straily’s lat outing was, well, awful, sure. Here’s the thing though, ol’ Danny boy is still sporting a SIERA under 3.50 and a K/9 over ten, making him a favorite of mine. While I do like Straily, I would steer clear of this week’s outing against the Rangers and wait for a more favorable outing to spot start him.

John Lackey, BOS- Judging by the ownership percentage in ESPN and Yahoo!, many people are not buying into Slackey’s resurgence. Well, seems like almost every Boston starter is throwing well to start the season and while I do not expect them to keep up this pace, I do think they will continue to provide some quality pitching. Lackey has two starts this week, against the rays and Twinkies and I expect two good starts right there with chance for some “Ws”.

Ubaldo Jimenez, CLE- Yes it is true, Ubaldo’s overall numbers still look bad, but what you may not have noticed is, Ubaldo has actually put together a couple of nice consecutive starts. Now, as I write this Jimenez is pitching against Detroit and that could get messy, sure, but he has a start this upcoming week against the Mariners, which is a favorable start for most SPs. Although I am not completely convinced of Ubaldo’s turnaround just yet, it is the Mariners and I think he can pull off a quality start there.

Hector Santiago, CWS- K/9. enough said. No? Yeah, you’re right. How about a K/9 of 8.44, a sub-two ERA and a 3.24 SIERA? Now, Santiago may not be mainstay in the rotation, but after pretty much dominating the Mets in his last start, it may be worth considering in the future. At the very least, Santiago is slated to start Monday against the Twinkies so I have no problem saying, “stream away!”

Chris Tillman, BAL- Tillman does not have “ace” numbers, but he has put together four straight quality starts. Now, although in those starts the peripherals were not great and show that Tillman may be getting a bit lucky, he does draw the Padres this week and they are not exactly world beaters at the plate, so go ahead and get a start outta Tillman this week.

 

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The More Things Change…

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The More Things Change…

Posted on 16 October 2012 by Will Emerson

…the more they stay the same. The LCS match-ups are set. Yankees-Tigers, Cardinals-Giants. Ho-hum. Now, while these are not heated rivalries and these teams do not have a ton of recent playoff history against each other, well, they are not exactly new blood. Since 2004, the span of the past eight postseasons, these four teams have combined to make six World Series appearances and ten LCS appearances. In comparison, the four teams they just bounced from the playoffs, well, they have just one appearance in that time span. No, no, not each. Combined! There have been 16 World Series slots, if you would, from 2004- 2011 and this year’s four remaining teams have all been there once and accounted for 37.5% of those slots. This includes the past two World Champions, the Giants and Cardinals who are squaring off against each other for another National League Championship and a chance for another World Championship ring. After this season is done, heck even before it is done, from 2004-2012 these four teams will have been responsible for eight of the 18 World Series slots. That will be 44% of the slots for those not quick with the arithmetic. The real question here, is why these teams have been able to do this? Sure, everyone knows the Yankees open their checkbook and make things happen, and none of these teams are considered as small market as, say, Oakland, but as we’ve seen in the past, money does not always win championships. So what is it, exactly, that brings us the same teams time and again? Well, one thing I always tend to hear is that it is simply because these teams know how to win, especially when it counts. Or, sometimes, once we reach the postseason, it is playoff experience that can take over and is what gets these team past those teams with inexperience. But how much of a factor is that really?

The argument of experience in the playoffs, or simply in big games, will almost always win out over inexperience. Sounds reasonable and in life, that should certainly be the case. If two people are interviewing for the same job, all else being equal, the person with more experience, in theory, will win out. But how much of a factor does experience really play in baseball playoffs? Sure, as mentioned above, these four teams have been in the thick of the pursuit of a World Series Championship, but did the Yankees oust the Orioles because they have more experience, or rings? Is it because they know how to win in October? Well, I do not think you can completely dismiss that point altogether, but maybe there is a bit of an overemphasis on explaining it as easily as that.

Yes, the Yankees have more playoff experience of late, and well, over the history of baseball, than the Orioles. In fact the Yankees have more World Series rings since 2000, than the Orioles have playoff appearances in that time. But this is also kind of my point. Okay, okay, experience yes, got it. But isn’t the reason the Yankees, and the other three teams remaining, have more playoff experience is because they are consistently good enough to get to the post season and win. Isn’t it more that the Yankees are just a better team than the Orioles, regardless of experience? Did anything the Orioles did in their losses count as something that would not have happened if they had experience? They took the Yankees to five games in a best-of-five series and that was more than most people probably expected. Heck, the fact they almost won the division, or even made the playoffs was more than most people expected. As they approached Game 5 the common notion amongst baseball fans, and pundits alike, was that the Yankees would win because they were at home and their experience, and the Yankee aura (yuck), would take over and get them to the ALCS. Or could it be that, generally speaking, they are overall a better team than the Orioles? Now it was an admirable fight by the Os, but it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to see that Sabathia versus Hammel is a match-up that favors the Yankees. So, what does postseason experience matter there?

I mean, it is not as if the rules change in the postseason, right? Games are still nine regular innings, are they not?  It is still three outs per half inning, correct? Three strikes and your out, even in the postseason, right? And most importantly the team that has more runs wins and the first team to three or four wins, depending on the series, moves on. Do you think Drew Storen would have not given up the winning run and blown his save opportunity in what ended up being the last inning of the Nationals’ season, had he had more playoff experience? Probably not. Anything to that effect is of course, pointing to mostly psychological factors. The experience is about handling the pressure of the big stage and not succumbing to said pressure or intimidating crowds. But even there, doing it once, twice, or even more times, may never get rid of the jitters a player feels going into or during a playoff game. And as far as the intimidating crowd noise? The Reds, Nats and Athletics all had game fives at home, so it’s not like they ventured into hostile territory or anything. You don’t need playoff experience to know you need to win at home. I guess, this could be the biggest argument for experience playing a large role in the playoffs, since the experienced teams were all ready to go and despite the hostile environment, managed to win big games. It is a decent argument, I will grant you, but I still feel like it may have just been a case of the better team actually winning.

Now as I say that, I am sure there are people saying, “well look at the records, how can you say the better teams won?” Well, that is a kind of flimsy argument. Despite the records, I believe the Tigers are better than the Athletics. In the National League, with the exception of the Cardinals, the teams were, I thought, pretty evenly matched. I do think the Reds are a better team than the Giants and the Nationals are a better team than the Cardinals. However, these could have been two remarkably different series’ had the Reds and Nats had their aces. The Reds lost Johnny Cueto after one batter and, I’m sure we’ve all heard about the Nats’ Steven Strasburg situation plenty at this point. So if they pitch, do their teams win? Well, you can’t say for sure, but that could have been a much bigger factor than experience, who’s to say?

So, does experience play a factor when it comes down to big games and big moments in the postseason? Of course it does, and I am not arguing that or dismissing experience altogether. All I am trying to get across is that it may not be quite as big of a factor as many would like to believe. The reason the teams with experience win, I believe, is because they are generally just better teams, which is why they keep making the playoffs in the first place and gaining said experience. Yeah, if Derek Jeter was released by the Yankees and lands on say, the Indians (an extreme example, I know, but bear with me here), you don’t think that would help them more in postseason play as far as the experience he brings? Sure it would, but matched up against a better team, with equal or less experience, I still say that better team will win out, 80-85% of the time. So let’s hold off on laying so much playoff credit on experience and taking away from the fact that for the most part, the better teams are winning. And as far as experience over inexperience, ask the back-to-back AL Champion Texas Rangers, who fell apart down the stretch and lost their one game playoff, how they feel about it.

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Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

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Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

Posted on 16 September 2012 by Will Emerson

Welcome back to another edition of Field of Streams, your in depth look at some viable, and some not so viable, fantasy streaming options for the upcoming fantasy week. I do apologize, I seemed to forget about rotisserie players last week, as they are still looking for pitching options down the stretch if they have innings to spare. So without further ado, on with the show! Here comes your look at your fantasy streaming options, owned in less than 50% in ESPN and Yahoo! leagues, for the week of 9/17-9/23 (all stats and information are prior to Saturday’s games):

Jose Quintana (CWS)- Since Quintana burst onto the scene this year, I have found him intriguing, yet overrated. His 6-4 record with a 3.52 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, is eye catching sure, but the 5.28 K/9, .291 BABIP and 4.03 FIP have pointed to a bit of a regression. A regression like the 8.00 ERA and 1.78 WHIP he is sporting this month. Ironically, his BABIP is .444 this month and his xFIP is 3.41, which means he is actually now pitching better, but posting worse fantasy numbers. Weird, right? He has the Tigers and Angels this week, no easy matchups by any stretch of the imagination. His last start was against the Tigers and he pitched fairly well. Quintana tossed 7.2 innings with an earned run, seven strikeouts, seven hits and two walks in a winning effort. Quintana is still a mystery to me at this point, and I just am not completely sold on him. The two starts are enticing, but I am very hesitant to recommend him this week against the Tigers and Angels. I still say steer clear of JQ. (14.6% owned in ESPN and 19% in Yahoo!)

Alex Cobb (TB)- Still sticking with Cobb, although on the surface his last start against the Orioles was not great. Overall Cobb has been solid and although he did not make it out of the 5th against the Os, he did not end up with the worst line imaginable. He threw 4.2 innings, giving up seven hits and two earned runs, two walks and six strikeouts. Alex also managed to have a 64.3% ground ball rate, an xFIP of 1.81 and a BABIP of .500 in that start, so he may have been just a tad bit unlucky. He looks to have the Jays and Red Sox at home this week. Both of those offenses have been up and down as of late and according to Bobby Valentine the Red Sox are also throwing out the weakest September lineup in their history, or something to that extent. I say go with Cobb to help capture you that elusive fantasy championship! (11.5% owned in ESPN and 18% in Yahoo!)

Kevin Correia (PIT)- There is not a lot that points to Correia being a great fantasy option at this point, this is for sure. A 4.29 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and a K/9 around four is not great. He is on the road twice this week and his road numbers are even worse. Correia’s road ERA is 4.75 and his WHIP is 1.47 and that is with a .266 BABIP. So why is he even in this article, you may ask? Well his two starts this week are against the Cubs and Astros, two of the worst hitting teams in the National League. This is no lock however, as these are still road starts in parks that are not pitcher friendly. There is a decent shot at wins, so this is really the wild card pick of the week. If you are close in the pitching categories, it is still a shaky, or turbulent, stream, but if you are just looking to chase wins or literally a few strikeouts, that second start may be worth a shot. (1.3% owned in ESPN and 3% in Yahoo!)

Marco Estrada (MIL)- It’s as if no one is taking me seriously, that spots on the “Ponch” Estrada bandwagon will be filling up fast! Estrada has been solid since entering the Brewers rotation and his last outing was no different. Against the Bravos, he tossed 6.2 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, walking one and striking out six. This week is a two start week for “Ponch” so go ahead and grab him, as he could be a big difference maker for you. (19.2% owned in ESPN and 20% in Yahoo!)

John Lannan (WAS)- Good ol’ John Lannan is back in the rotation with Stephen Strasburg shut down for the regular season. Lannan has never been flashy, but can tend to get the job done and could provide a much needed solid start for you. His last start, albeit against the Mets, was darned decent! Johnboy threw 5.2 scoreless innings allowing only five hits and one free pass. Now he is not gonna provide a ton of strikeouts, but he could get a quality start against the Dodgers this week. (1.6% owned in ESPN and 3% in Yahoo!)

Ross Detwiler (WAS)- Another appearance in Field of Streams for Detwiler. Ross continues to get things done for the Nationals. His xFIP and low K-rate do seem to point to some regression, but against the Dodgers in this upcoming week, I would expect a start similar to his last outing against the Braves. In that outing he threw six strong innings, allowing only one earned run, allowing seven hits and one free pass, while striking out five. Go ahead and stream him this week, I say! (37.8% owned in ESPN and 38% in Yahoo!)

Andrew Cashner (SD)- Now I recommended Andrew Cashner last week and the Rockies knocked him around pretty good. Nevertheless, I still stand by Cash Money at the Giants next week. As a starter he still has a K/9 over ten, and his WHIP is 1.14, with an xFIP of 2.41. So that clunker against Rockies should be an anomaly and throwing in San Fran against an inconsistent Giants lineup should be good for him. Cash in on Cashner (sorry, could not help myself) this week and if he throws another clunker I will not recommend him again this season. (10.6% owned in ESPN and 13% in Yahoo!)

Andrew Werner (SD)- Apparently any Andrew in the Padres rotation makes it into Field of Streams. But with Werner, why would he not be on your radar? Four starts, and in each he has gone at least six innings, exactly six in three of those starts, and allowed no more than two earned or unearned runs in any of those starts. He is rocking a 8.51 K/9 and his xFIP is 3.41 so while a modest regression is on the horizon I still feel safe recommending the kid at the Giants this week. (7.5% owned in ESPN and 11% in Yahoo!)

Joe Kelly (STL)- I am not completely sold on Kelly’s overall value now or for the future, but he has that Cardinals pitching magic working for him. The 3.60 ERA looks good, but with a FIP over four, a K/9 of 6.21, a WHIP of 1.41 and a BB/9 over three his ERA will rise at some point, but not this week friends! This week he has the Astros and unless you live under a rock or don’t follow baseball, which would make it weird that you are reading this, you know Houston does not have anything close to a good offense. Stream Kelly this week and take advantage of this matchup. (4% owned in ESPN and 6% in Yahoo!)

So there you have it, another edition of Field Of Streams in the books! So what did we learn this week, children? 1) Andrews in the Padres rotation are good to go B) Ks/9 are the bee’s knees 4) “Ponch” Estrada is still the cat’s pajamas; spots on his bandwagon will be going fast and F) there is still time to cash in on Cashner while you can! Good day and godspeed!

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Johnny Cueto coolness

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Sabermetric Spotlight: Johnny Cueto

Posted on 31 August 2012 by Patrick Hayes

Sabermetric Spotlight: Johnny Cueto, SP, Cincinnati Reds

The Reason -

I never would have guessed that a Cincinnati Reds pitcher would be having a CY Young caliber year. This is mainly due to playing at Great American Ballpark, a band box of sorts. I always try and avoid any pitchers who are throwing here and love picking up players who hit there. So to have Johnny perform this well, it’s something I would have never predicted. Now he is getting lots of plugs in CY Young talk, so lets see why!

Johnny  Cueto throwing

 

Basic Numbers -

Lets look at the past five years at once, cool?

Johnny  Cueto Basic Stats

 

Hello consistent improvement. His ERA, and WHIP all improved steadily from 2008 to 2011. This year has been, at least statistically, a step back from 2011. However this year Cueto has 17 wins and will cross 200 IP for the first time in his career, two factors that will definitely play a part of the CY Young raace.

Sabermetrics -

The past two years have been stellar for Johnny. The only difference between the two are the increased K/9 of 7.13 (from 6) and the deceased BB% at 5.6% (from 7.5%). Yes, he is striking out more and walking less. This is a deadly combo. Unfortunately this year welcomes Cueto with a higher BABIP of 2.91 and this results in a higher BAA of .239, still below his career average though.

Johnny  Cueto Sabermetrics

Inducing more line-drives seems trouble some, especially at 22.2%, a career high. The only bright spot about that is the decrease in fly-balls (29% from 30.1%), which translates into less homeruns overall. Sure, his HR rate is slightly up, but it is still well over half of what it was when he broke into the league in 2008 and 2009. His SIERA and ERA indicates that he is having results that are better than predicted, given his stats. The trend from the past three years sees this as normal and it seems as if Johnny is fully comfortable using his arsenal and knowing what type of pitcher he is. Some would say this is the “Art of Pitching”. #Barf (Shot at Tigers radio broadcast? Yup!)

Pitch Types and Speed -

Wow. Johnny is throwing his two-seamer fastball 11% less than 2011 (40.3% to 29.3%). The majority of this is found with his change-up, now being thrown 20.1% (up from 9.7%). He has also introduce a cutter this year, which he has thrown 1.2% of the time.

Would you be shocked that I told you batters are almost having identical results as to swings and locations? Me neither. Perhaps the biggest change is the 62.5% of first strikes being thrown, up from 55.6% last year. This has lead to a slight decrease in contact of swings when the pitch is a strike (87.7% from 90.1%). These are all good things, and just more evidence as to his improvements.

Forward Looking -

September 1st is this weekend, meaning, there isn’t much left to this 2012 MLB year. Johnny is estimated to have five more starts, four of these being at home. He will throw vs Philadelphia, vs Houston, @ Miami, vs Los Angeles and vs Milwaukee. The Reds are 8.5 games up in the Central and almost a near lock (99.4%) to make the playoffs. He will be throwing in the post-season where we will get to see if the rest of the nation gets clued in on just how consistent Cueto is.

Fantasy Analysis -

He isn’t doing you any favors in the K department, but leading the majors in Wins with 17 is nice, right? His ERA and WHIP are great, you are throwing him with confidence knowing that the risk is low and the reward is known ahead of time. While he may not be someone that wows you, he has be an anchor on your team and silencing your woes when your other pitchers tank it. Show him more love already!

Did You Know? -

Johnny’s hero and role model? None other than fellow Dominican, Pedro Martinez.

Johnny  Cueto coolness

 

Conclusion and Projection -

After interpreting all of Johnny’s stats for the past few years, it is clearly evident that he has established himself as a top caliber pitcher. Why he will never have a upper echelon strikeout rate, he will continue to be consistent and produce Wins and eat up innings for the Reds. His contract is up in 2014 and it will be interesting to see if Cincinnati tries to sign him to a contract extension and lock him up long term. Look for the spotlight to really turn to Johnny as the month of September dwindles and the talk of awards and the post-season take full effect.

Reactions and opinions are always welcomed. Find me on twitter: @pf_hayes

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What are the Odds?

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What are the Odds?

Posted on 16 July 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Even Neftali is shocked the Rangers aren’t 100% locks for the playoffs yet.

At this point in the MLB season, exactly 10 teams have better than a 50% chance of making the playoffs according to ESPN.  Seems apropos, because the addition of a 2nd wild card team in each league means that 10 of 30 teams will make the playoffs.  The problem lies in the distribution of teams with good chances of getting there.  The AL has 4 teams with greater than even odds to get there, and the NL has 6 teams.  Unless Selig plans some really, really whacky realignment, at least 1 AL team will beat the current odds, and 1 NL team will be left without a ticket.  Which teams have the best chance to make it, and which teams appear most likely to miss out?

AL East – New York Yankees at 92.4% have the best chance in the AL as a function of having the league’s highest winning percentage (.621) and an 8 game lead in their division.

AL Central – The Chicago White Sox lead the division by 3 games, and they currently sit at an 82.2% chance of making the postseason.  A 3 game margin hardly seems insurmountable,  but the 2nd place Cleveland Indians are given only a 21.0% chance.  The Tigers actually have a 33.0% chance, despite trailing the Indians by half a game.

AL West – The Texas Rangers have the 2nd best record in baseball (53-35), and they slightly trail the Yankees with an 86.4% chance of playing beyond game 162.  The Rangers share a division with the Angels which happen to be the only other AL team with greater than even odds (59.0%) to make the playoffs.

That leaves some questions about which teams have a reasonably good shot at the 5th spot.  Baltimore has a slim lead in the race for the 2nd wild card over the Rays with Detroit, Oakland, Boston, and Toronto all within 2.5 games or less of the Orioles.  Maybe the division race in the AL East will lack suspense, but the repercussions for the wild card run should hold a lot of interest.  It would be difficult to top the last weekend of baseball in 2011, but a 3 or 4 team collision for 1 final spot would certainly be worthy of prime time.

As good as the race in the AL could be, the one in the NL might even be a tad better.

NL East -  The Washington Nationals have a 78.6% chance of playing bonus games, but the Braves only trail by 3 games and have a 62.7% chance of getting to the tournament as well.  The Mets are listed at 33.0%, but the latest news on Dillon Gee does not help the team’s cause at all.

NL Central – The NLC boasts quite possibly the most interesting of all the division races.  Pittsburgh (73.2%), Cincinnati (72.1%), and St. Louis (52.7%) all have better than even odds to reach the playoffs.  With the Pirates & Reds leading the division and the wild card race simultaneously, Cardinals have to leap over at least a few teams to claim a wild card spot.

NL West – Despite the Dodgers leading the division by half a game prior to the All-Star Game, it was actually the Giants that had a 51.3% chance of being in the postseason.  Of course, that might be a “last team standing” contest, because the Dodgers had gone 4-6 in the last 10 games before the break, and the Giants actually surrendered the NL West lead during that time by going 3-7.  The only team above .500 in the last 10 was actually the Padres.  Fortunately for the Giants, a 2 game winning streak after the break put them ahead of the flailing Dodgers by half a game.

It might be hard to imagine the LA Angels failing to at least take one wild card spot with the way the team has started hitting, and their pitching staff got healthier before this weekend.  If the Orioles, Rays, Red Sox, and Blue Jay pummel each other while evenly distributing the wins/losses, the Tigers could sneak in for the 2nd wild card spot. With the latest concerns about the health of Evan Longoria, the Rays look more and more like a long shot.  Then again, I would never bet against Joe Maddon.

Prediction:  Yankees, White Sox, Rangers, Angels, Rays

As for the NL, the Nationals have a clear shot at the playoffs and a solid run differential that supports what many people have already seen.  This team has the pitching and enough offense to hold off the Braves and Mets.  I tend to believe the Giants will distance themselves from Dodgers and put them away at some point before the end of August.  The NL Central looks like a knotted mess, but my money remains on the Reds and Cardinals to find their respective ways to the finish line.

Prediction:  Nationals, Cardinals, Giants, Reds, Braves

Of course, I could be completely wrong, but this would not be the first time.

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