Now that the MLB All-Star break has concluded, teams find themselves at the start of the second half of their season. While the first half is undoubtedly important, actions in the post-All Star portion of the Major League Baseball season have a much greater consequence.
The first half of the season gave an idea of what expect from teams and players as we enter this so-called “home stretch.”
Here are five things to watch for as you watch from now until late September.
The Division Race Tightening in the NL West
You can expect the race for the NL West to tighten up. The Arizona Diamondbacks have done well so far this season, but will they stay in first place?
They still have the best record in the division, so things are looking good. However, the Diamondbacks were swept by the now-in-second-place LA Dodgers two weeks ago in a three-game series and were almost swept by the San Franicisco Giants this past weekend. This does not spell doom for the Diamondbacks by any means. It does show, however, that other teams in the division can beat them.
The LA Dodgers have had their share of injuries this season. This has lead to a dismal first half of the season—well, for the most part anyways. With the addition of Puig and guys coming off the disable list, the Dodgers are starting to win games. The most noteable, recent player to come off the DL was Matt Kemp. In his first game back from injury, he had three hits in four at bats, including a home run. The LA Dodgers will become a better team as more injured players return to the lineup.
The San Francisco Giants started out promising. Then they slumped, with a 14-26 record from June 1st through the All-Star break. Don’t expect them to play this poorly for the remainder of the season.
I no longer think they will win the division, but I do think they will make it a lot closer. Tim Linecium’s no-hitter was a good start; winning two out of three games against the Diamondbacks was good as well. Giants’ fans will also note that their team has been known to make late-season runs. In 2010, they went 51-30 in the last half of the season and won the division on the last game of the regular season.