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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

MLB Weekly Walk-Off

Wild on Sports
MLB Weekly Walk-Off
By Wild on Sports Analyst Kyle Kargel

Now that we’re a little over the half-way point in the season it looks like some teams finally are getting into the swing of things like the Angels who have gone 7-3 their past ten games, Dodgers who have gone 7-3 their last ten and even the Marlins who have gone 7-3 who have improved their overall record to 29-51. That’s not saying much, but it’s a vast improvement from where they were a few weeks ago, and with the return of Giancarlo Stanton, maybe the Marlins can surprise critics with half a season to go. The Pirates were the first team to 50 wins this season while overtaking the Cardinals for first in the NL Central. Only five games separate the top and bottom teams in the NL West which will be a fight until the end of September. Whereas seven games separates the first and second place team in the NL East. Yasiel Puig continues to make a push for the all-star team, and he’s making it difficult for managers and fans to keep him off the team. If he makes the team he will have only played only a month and a half of baseball, but he can help the NL team win should the game become close. Max Scherzer also became the first pitcher to go 12-0 or better to start a season since Roger Clemens in 1986 which makes him the favorite to start for the AL squad in New York for the all-star game.

Studs of the Past Week

1. Matt Harvey SP NYM- Surprising baseball fans across the nation to start the year, Harvey has posted an even 2.00 ERA on the season while only losing one game. In the past week though Harvey has pitched 13 innings while allowing only one run and striking out 17. He’s a strong candidate to start for the NL squad for the all-star game, but if he continues to get poor run support it could cost him a shot at the CY Young award.

2. Kenley Jansen RP LAD- It’s odd to see a relief pitcher on this list, but when it happens there is a reason for it. For the time being he has taken over for Brandon League in the closer role who has struggled with a 5.83 ERA on the season so far. In the past week Jansen has posted four saves, one win and a 1.80 ERA. If he continues at this pace he will be the closer for the rest of the year and has the potential to notch 20-25 saves for the season.

3. Michael Cuddyer RF Col- I can’t leave someone off this list who is in the midst of a 27 game hitting streak. Cuddyer is batting .346 on the year and has four homeruns in the past week, keeping the Rockies afloat in the NL West. Cuddyer can play first base or right field which makes him a valuable asset with injuries hindering the Rockies. The hitting streak will eventually end, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cuddyer put up a .310-.320 average by the end of the year.

Duds of the Past Week

1. Albert Pujols 1B LAA- Luckily for Pujols, the Angels are making a comeback without the help of Pujols. He has stayed out of the limelight for now, but if he doesn’t raise his average another 25-30 points before the end of the season it’s going to be panic time in LA. He has only gone 3 for 27 in the past week dropping his average below the .250 mark on the year. A batting order change might be in store for Pujols if he doesn’t improve soon.

2. Evan Longoria 3B TB- A DL stint might be in store for the Rays star third baseman as he continues to experience pain in his left foot. Longoria has only gone one for his last 12 and if the Rays want to make a push for the playoffs he’s got to heal quick and get back into the form he was in before his injury. He’s got the potential to hit 30 homeruns this year, but Longoria has had a history with lingering injuries so Rays fans should feel some sort of nervousness until he’s back and healthy.

3. Pablo Sandoval 3B SF- The Giants have fallen to forth in the NL West and some of the blame should go to Sandoval who has been hitless in his last 15 at bats before Sunday. His power has gone down since last year only hitting eight homeruns so far and a modest .275 batting average. He doesn’t have an RBI in the past week and if the Giants want to make it back to the World Series Sandoval is going to have to hit a lot better than he’s hitting now.

Top Pickups for Next Week

1. Ryan Flaherty 2B/3B Bal- The Orioles have used Flaherty only as a backup before he went on a tear this past week. He will more than likely split time with Alexi Casilla at second base, but manager Buck Showalter will be more than happy to leave Flaherty in should he put up numbers like he did this past week. Flaherty can play all over the infield which makes him that much more valuable should players need a day off or go on the DL.

2. J.B Shuck OF LAA-
Many don’t realize it, but Shuck has played a major role in the Angels recent success lately. Starter Peter Borjous has been on the DL and that has let the rookie shine in the outfield. He leads all rookies in average hitting .297 (excluding Puig), but has yet to hit his first major league homerun. When Borjous comes back he may split time with Shuck in the outfield, but until then Shuck should get all the starts and I’ll predict he hits his first homerun in the next ten days.

3. Juan Francisco 1B/3B Mil-
Since Francisco left Atlanta and picked up by the Brewers, he’s been average, but he hit homeruns in three straight games in the past week and now that there is no pressure on him to fill Chipper Jones’ shoes in Atlanta he may settle down in Milwaukee and turn into an alright hitter. He’s only hitting .232 right now and being an everyday player he has the potential to hit 20 homeruns and accumulate 50-60 RBIs by seasons end.

Top Matchups Next Week

Tigers at Blue Jays- The Tigers have gone into a little slump since sending closer Jose Valverde down to the minors and the Blue Jays are revived and ready to make a run in the AL East with the return of Jose Reyes this past week. It will be interesting to see if the Tigers can keep the AL Central division lead with Cleveland right on their back.

Cardinals at Angels- The Angels are on a bit of a run, but let’s see if they can keep it going against one of the National League’s best teams. They should be able to win the series seeing it’s at home, but this matchup will determine if the Angels are good enough to contend for a playoff spot.

Rockies at Diamondbacks- Anytime there is an inter NL West matchup for the rest of the year it will probably be on this list considering how tight the division is amongst all five teams. It just so happens that these two are at the top of the division, but by the times this series comes around and finishes they may be third and fourth.


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