Memorial Day standings test: Groups to observe, fear about and extra

It is Memorial Day, which suggests one further little factor for MLB followers: You are now formally free to take a look at the standings web page!

We requested Buster Olney, Jeff Passan and Sam Miller to just do that — and assist us make sense of the 2019 season up to now.

1. What’s the very first thing that jumps out at you whenever you take a look at the standings proper now?

Buster Olney: The Nationwide League East isn’t almost as aggressive as I assumed it could be after the Nationals invested in the most costly pitcher of the offseason and after the Mets made no secret of their intention to spend huge (inside the Mets’ context anyway) and attempt to win this season. Thus far, no managers have been fired, but it surely’s conceivable that the primary three to lose their jobs will all come from this division: Mickey Callaway, Dave Martinez and Don Mattingly.

Jeff Passan: I picked the New York Yankees to go to the World Sequence, so the concept I am stunned by their topping the American League East is not totally logical. However I did not anticipate them to have positioned 17 gamers on the injured record for a complete of 733 days. That is greater than Houston, Philadelphia, Arizona and Seattle had all of final season. For the Yankees to have run out so many replacements and remained not simply aggressive however on a 105-win tempo is outstanding.

Sam Miller: It isn’t simply that the Twins are in first place — the one actual upset on the high of the standings thus far — however that the Twins are completely burying Cleveland. The playoff odds in that division have fully flipped, from 80-20 in Cleveland’s favor to 80-20 for Minnesota. We might quickly be speculating about Trevor Bauer as a commerce candidate in July.

2. Which crew is headed for an enormous rise or drop within the standings sooner or later?

Olney: The Braves have a a lot deeper and stronger lineup than they did final yr, and little by little, they seem like they’re placing collectively their pitching. Alex Anthopoulos does not have some huge cash to spend, however he appears to be saving some monetary ammunition for the workers additions within the final 4 months — possibly a reliever reminiscent of Craig Kimbrel (although I wager Kimbrel’s price ticket is simply too excessive) and possibly a veteran starter reminiscent of Marcus Stroman.

How quickly might Ronald Acuña Jr. declare Finest Participant in Baseball title? Jeff Passan

Passan: Every little thing is coming collectively for the Atlanta Braves. Austin Riley seems to be like a star. Mike Soroka’s indignant sinker is shot-put heavy. Max Fried’s curveball is made for the Pitching Ninja. And that is simply the sudden stuff. Freddie Freeman stays a hitting deity. Ronald Acuna Jr. is again in heart doing Ronald Acuna Jr. issues. There’s depth within the bats and the rotation. If normal supervisor Alex Anthopoulos can cobble collectively a worthy bullpen — Mr. Kimbrel on line 1 — the Braves are the crew to beat within the NL East.

Miller: I nonetheless imagine the Nationals, regardless of having the second-worst document within the NL, can get again within the race. Max Scherzer is having, by FIP, his finest season, Stephen Strasburg is, by FIP, the NL’s second-best pitcher (after Scherzer) and Patrick Corbin, by FIP, can be the No. 1 starter on half the groups on this league. “By FIP,” he says. That is as a result of Washington’s protection has deserted its pitching workers, and “by ERA” would not paint almost so rosy an image. However protection should not be a legal responsibility for this roster going ahead, particularly with the return of Trea Turner at shortstop.

three. Which crew’s place within the standings proper now could be probably the most disappointing (and do you suppose it will probably flip issues round)?

Olney: The Nationals, unquestionably. They had been so assured in spring coaching that their run prevention can be a lot better, with Victor Robles entering into the outfield rather than Bryce Harper and Brian Dozier at second as an alternative of Daniel Murphy. However the protection has been horrible, the lineup manufacturing has been sporadic, and the bullpen is the worst of any crew for the reason that Dodgers and Giants had been nonetheless in New York.

Marlins at Nationals, 1 p.m. — Max Scherzer and the Nats go for a four-game sweep.
Indians at Purple Sox, four p.m. — Terry Francona’s Tribe tries to get on track towards the defending champs.
Mets at Dodgers, eight p.m. — How does Jacob deGrom vs. Clayton Kershaw sound for a nightcap?
All occasions ET

Passan: With Trevor Bauer two years from free company and Francisco Lindor, Corey Kluber and Brad Hand three years away, the Indians acknowledge that their window for this bountiful period is closing. So how did they bulk up for the 2019 season? By signing left-handed one-out man Oliver Perez to a one-year deal. That was the whole thing of the Indians’ offseason free-agent strikes, and the next weak point all through their lineup has manifested itself in an offense worse than Baltimore’s. The intense aspect is there’s room for enchancment. The query is how motivated the Indians are to really enhance.

Miller: I am disenchanted that the Rockies are irrelevant once more. One can not help fearing that baseball in Colorado is perpetually doomed, that the drawback of enjoying at altitude won’t ever allow a very nice crew. Final yr gave us actual promise: a wholly homegrown rotation, with a high three of starters who might rival nearly any within the league. However the collapses of Kyle Freeland, Tyler Anderson and Antonio Senzatela this yr may ship the Rockies again to the brink of existential hopelessness.

four. Which crew’s place within the standings is the largest shock in a great way (and do you suppose it will probably stick with it)?

Olney: Given the dominance of the Houston Astros within the AL West, the trajectory of the Texas Rangers appeared inevitable: a gradual begin, a midseason sell-off, a late-season tank. However Joey Gallo retains getting higher, Mike Minor is wholesome and has had a breakthrough, and the Rangers are rather more aggressive than I ever imagined. I nonetheless suppose they may grow to be deadline sellers, nevertheless.

Passan: The Minnesota Twins aren’t totally a shock. They gained a wild-card spot in 2017 and returned arguably a greater roster this season. However to see what they’ve executed — set a tempo to obliterate the single-season crew house run document — is among the nice tales of the early season. They’ve constructed their AL Central lead into double digits, and their run differential exhibits that it’s no fluke. Aaron Boone is the AL Supervisor of the 1/three Season, however first-year Twins supervisor Rocco Baldelli is not far behind. That is actual, and the Twins are actually the favorites within the division.

Miller: It is actually the Twins, who’re scoring nearly one-and-a-half extra runs per sport than they did final season. Can they stick with it? Can their catchers proceed to hit extra house runs than some other AL crew has hit at some other place? Can the out of the blue .600-slugging Jorge Polanco proceed to match Mike Trout WAR for WAR and win the MVP award? Can the Twins hold producing an .890 OPS — Harmon Killebrew’s profession, principally — with males on base? For instance … sure.

5. Wanting on the standings, which is a crew you suppose ought to go into promote mode between now and the commerce deadline?

Olney: There already are groups in promote mode: The Giants, Blue Jays and others have signaled to groups that they’re ready to take heed to gives for Madison Bumgarner, Stroman, Aaron Sanchez et al. The Padres may need the hardest choice of any crew forthcoming. They’re in all probability nonetheless a yr away from severely contending, so it would make sense for them to dangle the 32-year-old Kirby Yates and a few others. However their possession is impatient and desires to win now.

2 Associated

Passan: It is troublesome to argue crew with the sport’s finest pitcher and two extra frontline-type starters, plus a handful of All-Star-caliber gamers, ever ought to promote. But the Nationals discover themselves with a document higher than solely these of the Marlins, Orioles, Tigers, Blue Jays, Giants and Royals, mired 9 video games again within the NL East and in fourth place. The case in favor of their retooling for future seasons is reasonably compelling. The Nationals might reap a bounty for potential free agent Anthony Rendon and nearer Sean Doolittle. They tried final yr earlier than possession put the kibosh on a deal that may have despatched Bryce Harper to Houston. Idiot them as soon as, disgrace on you. Idiot them twice …

Miller: In addition to the standard suspects — the groups which might be already six-sevenths offered off — the Angels may need probably the most motive to radically reevaluate what they’ve. This was a crew that, for just a few years, invoked emotions of remorse by narrowly lacking the playoffs. However they’ve quietly grow to be plainly dangerous. This seems to be like it is going to be their fourth consecutive shedding season, and none of these shedding seasons has up to now reoriented them towards one thing higher. The issue, although, is that there is not a lot to promote, particularly at midseason.

6. What number of video games do you suppose the Purple Sox will win this season?

Olney: Ninety-four. They’re gathering momentum, and it looks as if they will proceed to get higher because the summer time performs out. Given what’s at stake for this group — the chance to grow to be the primary crew in nearly twenty years to win back-to-back titles — I might anticipate Dave Dombrowski will do his factor and work to enhance the bullpen earlier than the deadline.

Passan: Let’s go along with 89. To get there, the Purple Sox would wish to play at a .554 tempo the remainder of the season, which appears pretty affordable. They nonetheless have 17 video games towards a superior Yankees crew and 14 towards Tampa Bay. Though their Could has proved an unequivocal success and propelled them again into the playoff race, the Purple Sox’s depth is questionable, their beginning pitching is iffy, and their bullpen is outpitching its peripherals to the purpose that regression is inevitable.

Miller: I believe that is one thing like a 95-win crew, so making use of that to the remainder of the season will get them to 92 or 93. In fact, an harm to Chris Sale can be devastating (as we noticed early this yr, when Sale was, successfully, pitching like his hypothetical alternative). However on the flip aspect, we must always anticipate to see the Purple Sox land a fairly substantial piece on the commerce deadline.

7. What number of video games do you suppose the Orioles and Marlins will lose this season?

Olney: The streaking Marlins? The plucky Marlins, who took down the Mets and Tigers? If the Marlins win 58 video games, it could be a shocker as a result of whilst they play the struggling Mets and Nationals, they may get greater than a fair proportion of video games towards Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and Jacob deGrom. The Orioles gained 47 video games final season, and they’re going to battle to match that whole this yr. Based mostly on the physique language we noticed from the Baltimore outfielders in final week’s Yankees sequence, as balls soared over their heads, they could agree.

Passan: Miami’s offense is so dreadful — its present OPS+ of 67 can be the worst for the reason that dead-ball period — that not even a stable core of younger beginning pitching can save the Marlins from triple-digit losses. How dangerous will it get? The document will not match the offense by way of historic awfulness, however 104 losses sound about proper. If the Marlins had been within the AL East, it may be 110. The Orioles are within the AL East, so 110 it’s.

Miller: They do not play one another in interleague this yr, so “the remaining” is one possibility. Will both crew be favored for a single sport on the remainder of the schedule? Perhaps when Caleb Smith begins towards sub-.500 opponents. Perhaps when the Orioles host the Royals in Baltimore (Aug. 19-21, tickets going quick!). The Orioles will lose 113 video games. The Marlins will lose 100.

eight. Now that the Yankees have overtaken the Rays within the AL East, what number of days do you suppose New York will spend exterior of first place the remainder of the season?

Olney: The best quandary for Yankees GM Brian Cashman may be making an attempt to resolve what to prioritize earlier than the commerce deadline as a result of he cannot actually matter on Giancarlo Stanton to come back again, and although Didi Gregorius’ rehab work has been seamless, you do not know what he’ll be. However Cashman’s default place has at all times been to overload on pitching, so he’ll improve the workers earlier than the deadline, and the Yankees will roll to the title.

ESPN’s Buster Olney leads the dialogue of the most recent information and notes round baseball with the sport’s high analysts. Hear

Passan: Seven, simply because the Rays are ok to hold with the Yankees for the rest of the season and scratch their manner into first for just a few days at a time. By the tip of the yr, although, supplied they get and keep wholesome — and that is one whale of a caveat — the Yankees will maintain on to the division crown.

Miller: I believe the one logical reply to this query, if one thinks the Yankees will win the division, is “zero.” However the playoff odds that give each the Purple Sox and Rays trustworthy, 1-in-5 photographs on the division additionally appear proper to me. My reply is zero, however it is a superb race amongst three groups, two of which is able to in all probability meet within the wild-card sport.

9. The Dodgers and Astros have been arguably the 2 finest groups in baseball up to now. Do you suppose they’re on a World Sequence collision course?

Olney: That is the place the secure cash can be. The Astros are clearly the very best crew in baseball, and the Dodgers are the very best crew within the NL. Bear in mind, too, that Jeff Luhnow has not been shy about spending huge for in-season enhancements. He landed Justin Verlander, he took the (deserved) criticism for the addition of Roberto Osuna, and he nearly landed Bryce Harper final summer time. The Astros will do one thing huge in July (I might like to see them add Trevor Bauer).

Passan: Effectively, it actually seems to be that manner. Houston will add Yordan Alvarez — the very best hitter within the minor leagues this season — to an already unfair lineup. The Astros’ aggressiveness on the commerce deadline might assist them wind up with the beginning pitcher they want. The Dodgers, just like the Astros, boast a deep main league lineup, glorious beginning pitching and sufficient organizational depth to play purchaser on the deadline. The playoffs being the playoffs, both might stumble over a five-game sequence in October, so anointing them now could be a bit a lot. Simply know this: They’re the very best groups in every league.

Miller: The Astros are the very best crew in baseball, and the Dodgers are the very best within the NL, and the longer you stare at their rosters looking for a motive to dislike them, the higher they appear. However there are not any collision programs within the baseball postseason. Each course is meandering and half-chance. The Twins have outplayed the Astros over two months, so that they (or a extra predictably good crew!) might actually outplay them over per week.

10. Fast predictions reset: Give us your division winners and wild playing cards primarily based on what you’ve got seen up to now this season.


AL East: Yankees
AL Central: Twins
AL West: Astros
AL wild playing cards: Purple Sox, Rays
NL East: Braves
NL Central: Cubs
NL West: Dodgers
NL wild playing cards: Phillies, Brewers

(And the Cardinals would be the most harmful crew exterior of these 5.)


AL East: Yankees
AL Central: Twins
AL West: Astros
AL wild playing cards: Rays, Purple Sox
NL East: Braves
NL Central: Cubs
NL West: Dodgers
NL wild playing cards: Phillies, Brewers


AL East: Yankees
AL Central: Twins
AL West: Astros
AL wild playing cards: Purple Sox, Rays
NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Brewers
NL West: Dodgers
NL wild playing cards: Cubs, Braves

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