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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

MLB Weekly Walk-Off

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

With the unofficial halfway point of the MLB season upon us, we can all finally take in everything we’ve been a witness of up until this point. The defending World Series Champion Giants have found themselves eight games under .500 and are in danger of not making the playoffs. The Reds, Pirates and Cardinals have all won 53+ games, and after only 85 at bats total from Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez the Yankees have found themselves only six games back in the AL East with a series against the division leader Red Sox to kick things off after the all-star break. The Tigers haven’t been able to pull away in the AL Central on account that the Indians keep hitting homeruns. Terry Francona’s group has been rejuvenated after a disappointing end to the 2012 season. With every team having around 70 games left in the season and the trade deadline approaching it’s going to become clear which teams are going to cash it in, or which teams will make a serious run at a division title or wildcard spot. The first half has been full of surprises like the Pirates, A’s and Red Sox and I’m sure that there will be other teams to surprise us all in the second half.

Studs of the Past Week

1. Shin-Soo Choo OF Cin
- A very early MVP candidate, Choo is letting the Indians know why it was a mistake to let him go. His numbers may seem average on paper, but he has the potential to go 20-20 which he has done twice in his career already. Choo closed out the first half with five straight multi-hit games including a homerun and two steals. He will continue to lead off for the Reds, and should they not plummet in the second half, Choo will get his share of at bats going forward.

2. Zach Greinke SP LAD
- It’s funny to look back on it now that Greinke is clear of injuries, but he had the most thrilling first half of any MLB player in the first half. He found himself in the middle of two bench clearing brawls one of which led to a DL stint, and aside from all that distraction, he’s posted an 8-2 record with a 3.49 ERA. His last 16 innings pitched he’s allowed zero runs, four hits and struck out 17 batters.

3. Tim Lincecum SP SF- Of course just like Homer Bailey, Lincecum earned this spot by pitching the second no hitter of the MLB season just 11 days after Bailey pitched his. Lincecum was the losing pitcher against Bailey and his no no, but he proved he still has the potential to be an elite pitcher in the league with his own no hitter. His last couple starts have been good for 24 strikeouts and only three earned runs. The Giants are going to need his help bad if they want to slide their way back into the division title race.

Duds of the Past Week

1. Alex Gordon OF KC- Part of the reason why the Royals hold the leagues current longest losing streak is because of the lack of production from their lead-off hitter. Since June 9 Gordon has only one run scored and one RBI. A guy with the potential to go 20-20 likely won’t as he only has nine homeruns and five steals this season. The bright side is that the Royals can still make noise in the AL Central, but it may be easier said than done in the Royals case.

2. Stephen Strasburg SP Wash
- Never thought to see Strasburg on this list, but his past couple starts have not been the best. His last start against the Marlins, he only lasted two innings while giving up seven runs which will make National fans cringe as the Marlins are one of the worst teams in the league. He’s 5-7 right now, but he should get back over the .500 mark. He only had six loses all of last year so he’s got something to prove in the second half of the season.

3. Jose Bautista OF Tor- Just when we thought the Blue Jays might make a run in the AL East, they have gone back to their old ways in the past week, and that’s partly due to Bautista. He’s gone two for his last 25 that included a four strikeout game and has seen his average drop from .271 to .254 during that time. Bautista will more than likely hit 30 homeruns, but if you watched only this past week, you wouldn’t even think it.

Sleepers for This Week

1. Chris Archer SP TB- Archer has gone 2-0 his last couple starts including a complete game shutout of the Astros in his last start. He wasn’t originally in the rotation to start the year, but has worked his way in posting a 2.96 ERA this season, and with the Rays surging as of late he hopes to be a big part in their run to try and make the playoffs.

2. Wily Peralta SP Mil- The overall numbers on the year for Peralta aren’t great, but he has only allowed one run in his past three starts as he has lowered his ERA from 6.08 on June 16 to 4.61 now. The Brewers are out of any playoff race, but Peralta could either be a bright spot that the Brewers invest their future in or good trade bait come deadline time. Either way Peralta has the potential to keep pitching above average.

3. Luke Scott DH/1B TB- In the midst of a 10 game hitting streak Scott, along with Archer, has been hidden gems for the Rays. In that hitting streak he has three homeruns and eight RBIs. The Rays are 11-2 their past 13 games and as long has a hot bat he will be in the starting line-up for Joe Madden on a day to day basis.

Top Matchups for This Week

American League vs. National League- After winning 12 of 13 all-star games the American League has dropped the last three games only scoring two runs total. With the National League winning the past three World Series titles it’s arguable that it may have been because the American League didn’t have home field advantage because of losing the all-star game. Jim Leyland and his team are looking to switch the trend starting this year.

Pirates at Reds- Kicking off this series will be a pitcher’s duel between the rejuvenated Francisco Liriano and Reds star Mike Leake. This series will set the tone for the second half as these teams will more than likely battle it out until the end of September to see who might win the division or win the wildcard spots.

A’s at Angels- The Angels are still 11 games back of the A’s in the AL West. There’s no better time to start chipping away at that deficit than right after the all-star break, at home nonetheless. If the A’s end up sweeping the Angels, that might be the start to the downfall of another disappointing season for LA.


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