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Home / Articles / Baseball: First Half Roundup

Baseball: First Half Roundup

By: Jim Feist
Date: Jun 30, 2015
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by Jim Feist 162 games is a long baseball season. Every year teams sprint out of the gate in April and May with October dreams, only to come back to the pack by July. It's not a sprint, of course, but a marathon, where a strong balance of pitching, defense and offense carries the best teams into the postseason. Injuries, too, are key, as well as trades made before the July deadline. Teams have figured out their strengths and weaknesses now and are beginning to look for pieces to add before the deadline, while others are figuring out whom to dump. Here's a look at some recent baseball surging and slumping teams.

Royals: Didn’t everyone bail on last year’s AL champs? “Lost too many players, plus they were a fluke…” Well the 2015 Royals are pretty good, too, giving Detroit and surprising Minnesota a run for their money in the AL Central. The offense has not taken a step back, still running around the base paths ranked in the Top 10 in on base percentage. The Royals are 19-7 as a dog and 35-18 away against righties. The one concern is quality starting pitching, with Edinson Volquez walking too many and Danny Duffy and Jeremy Guthrie regressing. The Royals still rely on a lights out pen, but will they wear down as the summer gets hotter and the workload longer?

Mets: The NY Mets have gotten Matt Harvey back and he’s anchored a strong staff behind Jonathon Niese, Jacob deGrom and the amazing Bartolo Colon, who adds hundreds of pounds and years but never seems to break down. The Mets are 38-13 as home chalk. However, this offense is not great, bottom 10 in runs scored and on base percentage. They can struggle against good pitchers and note that the Mets are 13-30 against a pitcher with a WHIP less than 1.15. They probably will be in the market for a productive bat in July.

Astros: Wow! A bold pick to win the 2018 World Series a few years ago by some, Houston is way ahead of schedule. Diminutive 25-year old 2B Jose Altuve is having a monster season with the bat and stealing bases with his legs. The balanced lineup is hitting almost twice as many homers as opponents. Astros centerfielder Jake Marisnick turned an unassisted double play in a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels. The Houston pitching staff has a pair of young aces in Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh helping the team rip off an impressive 7 game road win streak. Sports bettors take note: the Astros are 16-5 when Keuchel is an underdog and 20-6 under the total following a defeat.

Mariners: Seattle was the talk of the offseason, a young team ready to roll out West. Any team with an ace like Felix Hernandez won’t have long losing skids. However, the Mariners have fallen short, without much in the rotation beyond King Felix and J.A. Happ. And with Fernando Rodney as a closer, their manager needs a trunk full of blindfolds and antacid. The offense, too, has been a huge problem, bottom 10 in runs and OBP. Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz are doing their part but getting little help. Seattle is 37-15-2 under the total at home in spacious Safeco Field.

Pirates: What is going on with Pittsburgh? This young team was supposed to take off in 2015. They have an impressive rotation of A.J. Burnett, Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano, anchoring a pitching staff averaging close of 9 strikeouts per 9 innings. And the Pirates are 38-18 at home against a righty starter, so why aren’t they running away with the division? Ah yes, offense, the other half of the game. The Pirates haven’t hit, bottom 14 in runs scored, slugging and on-base percentage. Might be a good time to go shopping for a bat -- and a team to look at under the total in the second half?

Red Sox: Boston spent a lot in the offseason but management hasn’t gotten its money’s worth. Like last year they are good at drawing walks and little else throughout the season. They started April 7-3 with the owner pointing out that “Clay Buchholz is an ace.” It’s been all downhill since, with a lack of clutch hitting they experienced in 2014, an injury to Hanley Ramirez and a dreadful pitching staff.

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