Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pennant Chase Special

This week the Rangers announced that the AAA team will be moved from Oklahoma City to Round Rock and that the High-A team will be moved from Bakersfield to Myrtle Beach. I am a little disappointed that the AAA team will move away from OKC, because that was a great stadium and a really fun place to see a game, and I always enjoyed seeing games there. But I am ecstatic that the High-A team moved to Myrtle Beach, and will now be called the Pelicans, because my family and I go to Myrtle Beach every summer, and already go see at least one Pelicans game every year. It is also a great place to see a game and will be an even better one now that it will be a Rangers affiliate. An interesting piece of trivia is that two of the Rangers’ affiliates will now have a mascot named Deuce – the RoughRiders have a mascot named Deuce who is a giant prairie dog and the Pelicans have a mascot named Deuce who is a real dog who takes baseballs out to the umpire between innings.

This week I will analyze all of the divisional chases for this season, and predict the winner of each one. The AL West, AL Central, and NL Central races are already pretty much over, so I will not analyze those.

New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays:

Right now, the Yankees are up by half a game, but have 13 of their last 14 games against teams with winning records, while the Rays have just 4 of their last 15 games against teams with winning records, so I really don’t think that the Yankees will win the division. Another reason I think the Rays will win the division is the fact that Andy Pettite hasn’t pitched since July and Phil Hughes’s monthly ERAs starting in June have been 5.17, 5.52, 4.22, and 6.59, a sign of fatigue. Their other pitchers have been struggling too, as AJ Burnett has a 5.08 ERA for the year, and Javier Vazquez has a 5.09 ERA for the year, including a 5.96 August ERA and 8.38 September ERA. Meanwhile, the Rays’ pitchers are David Price (1.55 ERA this month), Matt Garza (3.88 ERA this year, but 7.98 ERA this month, which I don’t put too much stock in because of his 1.27 August ERA), James Shields (struggling all year), Jeff Niemann (awful lately), and Wade Davis (3.50 ERA this month), which isn’t much better, but is a slight improvement over the Yankees’ staff. I think that the schedule will help the Rays win the division, and I predict them to be the 2010 AL East Division Champions.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves:

Right now, the Phillies are up by three games, and I see them winning the division, with both them and the Braves having the same amount of games against winning teams and having good pitching staffs. They have Roy Halladay (no stats needed), Cole Hamels (3.01 ERA, including 0.44 ERA this month), Roy Oswalt (2.90 ERA, including 1.53 August ERA and 1.59 September ERA), Joe Blanton (2.81 and 3.78 ERAs in the past two months), and Kyle Kendrick (4.78 season ERA). That is an amazing pitching staff. The Braves have good pitching, too, with Tim Hudson (2.61 season ERA), Derek Lowe (0.64 ERA this month), Tommy Hanson (3.62 ERA this year, with 2.77 September ERA), Jair Jurrjens (mediocre year), and Mike Minor (3-1). I wouldn’t be surprised if they both make the playoffs, with the Braves also in the wild card race, but right now I don’t think the Braves have much of a shot at the division championship, with the Phillies’ pitching.

San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies

Right now, the Padres are up half a game on San Francisco, and one game on Colorado. But I don’t think that will keep up, and I actually think the Padres will finish 3rd. The main reason for that is the fact that the Padres pitching, which has kept them in first place, isn’t doing so well now. Here’s their rotation, and the stat that makes me worried about each one of them:
1. Mat Latos – 7.36 ERA this month
2. Clayton Richard – 6.00 ERA this month
3. Jon Garland – 5.40 ERA this month
4. Kevin Correia – 5.40 ERA this season
5. Wade LeBlanc – 6.47 ERA in August, 9.00 ERA this month

Meanwhile, the Giants’ rotation is amazing, with this rotation:
1. Tim Lincecum – 3.60 ERA, 2.36 ERA this month
2. Matt Cain – 3.08 ERA, 2.86 ERA this month
3. Madison Bumgarner – 3.27 ERA, 1.35 ERA this month
4. Jonathon Sanchez – 3.21 ERA, 0.47 ERA this month
5. Barry Zito – 4.02 ERA, 3.45 ERA this month

The Rockies’ rotation is passable, and their offense makes up for that:
Ubaldo Jimenez – 19-6, 2.84 ERA
Jason Hammel – 10-8, 4.45 ERA
Jorge De La Rosa – 4.25 ERA
Aaron Cook – 2.28 ERA this month
Esmil Rogers – 5.34 ERA

With the Padres’ offense never having been very good, they’ve had to rely on their pitching, and it seems that that is no longer there for them. At the end of the year, I see it being Giants, then Rockies, then Padres.

Come back next week for another pennant chase special.

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