The AL West is a far cry from where it was a few months ago. The Rangers take on the Athletics in your Game of the Week.
The A's and the Rangers have spent the last month going in different directions in the standings. On July 22nd, the Rangers trailed the A's by a mere half-game in the AL West, with the Angels only two games behind the leader, and the Mariners five back in last place. On that date, the Rangers had better than even odds of making the postseason, 53.4%, according to the Playoff Odds Report. By the time they acquired left fielder Carlos Lee from the Brewers a week later, the Rangers were a game under .500, two and a half behind the A's in second place, and their chances had fallen to 29.9%. Coming into Saturday's matchup, the Rangers are in third place, and their playoff chances have dropped to negligible--right around 5%. Since a picture's worth a thousand words, here's how it all broke down:
Derek has a rundown of a Game You May Have Heard About.
So the question is, why are we back with these two teams? They came into this weekend series a game and a half apart in the standings atop the AL East. So far, the Yankees have taken the first three games-sweeping a Friday doubleheader that featured an afternoon blowout and the longest nine-inning game in major league history in the nightcap, then blasting past the Sox in the late innings of Saturday's game. With two games left in the series, the Red Sox have the opportunity to salvage the series, or to watch a prime chance slip through their fingers. With the level of competition we are seeing in the AL Central, the loser of this division race is anything but guaranteed a playoff spot via the wild card.
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Greg Maddux throws a gem as Derek watches the Giants and Dodgers duel.
Taking the Dodgers first, they've hit the top of the division after residing in the cellar just a little over two weeks ago, going on an 11 game streak which was broken on Wednesday in Colorado, followed by a three game winning streak coming into today's matchup. Let's take a look at how a few Dodgers have performed during this stretch (courtesy of Dave Pinto's Day by Day Database):
A Pedro-Dontrelle matchup makes for a bonus edition of the Game of the Week.
For the Mets, the season has turned into an exercise in avoiding complacency and injury. While a 13 game division lead in early August does not guarantee a playoff spot, it's pretty darned close. The Postseason Odds Report has the Metropolitans with a 99.49% chance of winning the division, 99.83% of making the playoffs. So the Mets are trying to avoid any more bad cab rides, at least until October.
Derek tackles a Sheets-Harang duel, and one pitcher gets the better of it in the return of Prospectus Game of the Week.
The Reds, who lead the wild card race and are within scratching distance of the Cardinals for the lead in the NL Central, started off the major trading by dealing their starting shortstop (Felipe Lopez) and their starting rightfielder (Austin Kearns) to the Washington Nationals for a gift basket of middle relievers--Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, and Darryl Thompson--along with infielders Royce Clayton and Brendan Harris. The big trade was an acknowledgment of the weakness of the Reds bullpen--even now, with their new, improved bullpen, the Reds are still tenth in the league in WXRL, and fifteenth in Adjusted Runs Prevented--and a decision to emphasize defense. Still, that doesn't change the fact that the Reds surrendered two youngish full-time position players, one of whom was an All-Star last year, for three no-name relievers and a couple of role players.
A rematch of the World Champs and the NL pennant winners is what Derek's clicker dials up this time around.
It's been a busy week for both ballclubs. The Astros had the season debut of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens on Thursday, making the decision to have Clemens go against the Minnesota Twins at home, rather than pitch against the White Sox in Chicago. Clemens was hardly dominant in a game where young phenom Francisco Liriano emerged victorious.
Derek catches a SoCal interleague Father's Day special, and gets his take on Bartolo Colon's return to action.
The Angels, on the other hand, are in last place, six games out of first place in the AL West, and six games under .500. The team has made the postseason three out of the last four years, but now stands in the awkward position of trying to decide if it's time to fish or cut bait. All season long, prospects who seem to be the future of this franchise have gotten call-ups to fill in or back up when the big club's veterans have faltered. Already, guys like Howie Kendrick (#5 on our top prospects list) Kendry Morales (#26 on our list) and Erick Aybar (#50) have gotten time on the major league roster. Only Morales has seen significant playing time in The Show, but the question lingering over the Angels' season has been when do you give up, deal the veterans, and put things in the prospects' hands?
Let's hear it for rainouts, as Derek checks out the Schilling v. Santana showdown in Minneapolis.
Welcome to yet another edition of Game of the Week. As you might have noticed, the game we set out to cover last week was rained out. That game, the nightcap of a planned Saturday day/night doubleheader between the Red Sox and Rangers at Fenway Park, was to have featured Red Sox past and future--former Sock John Wasdin going for the Texans, young Texan ace-of-the-future Josh Beckett pitching for the Beantowners.
Sunday's Arizona/Atlanta game featured an unlikely hero and a likely goat.
A week ago, this matchup looked much more even. The Braves were 27-23, three and a half games behind the Mets. They come into Sunday's matchup a .500 team. The Braves have been a top offensive team so far this season, scoring 296 runs, good for second in the league, despite a lackluster .262 team EqA--seventh in the NL. So far, the Braves have outperformed their expected offensive performance--that is, what you'd expect they'd score based on the hits, walks, etc. that they have collected--by 20 runs, the most of any team in baseball.
The first Game of the Week of the 2006 season features a pair of AL ace starters with warts, on opposite ends of their careers.
Today, we're watching the top two teams in the land, as per the Prospectus Hit List: the Tigers and Yankees, at lovely Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit was roasting yesterday, 93 degrees on a sunny Memorial Day afternoon. Coming into this week's four-game series against New York, Detroit is in first place in the NL Central, two and a half games ahead of the White Sox. Prior to being shut out by Cleveland the day before, the Tigers had won eight in a row.
Jonah sees plenty of surprises in a Sox-on-Sox drubbing in Chicago.
But while the Chicago White Sox face the same question marks about their
lack of left-handed pop, the Boston Red Sox have question marks in their
starting rotation, their bullpen, and multiple spots in their order not
occupied by David Ortiz and Manny
Ramirez. With neither team an odds-on bet to advance, the
statement I made five days ago stands: "Sox fans could be in for a wild
scenario: Their chance at the first World Series in 88 years could rest in
the right hand of Jose Contreras." The only difference is now you can make
that statement about both Sox.
The media's been making a big deal out of the White Sox' collapse, but they clinched the AL Central on Thursday.
That the Sox got well during the month against the league's weaker
sisters, including the Tigers and Royals, misses the point; the Indians
did the same for much of the month, then in the last few days the Indians,
Red Sox and Yankees have all struggled at times against similarly weak