Updated: July 13, 2016



We’re at the halfway point in the season, and as we all know in baseball with the two wild card spots, if you’re at .500 then you’re pretty much in the mix for a playoff spot. Last year the Blue Jays were 45-46 coming out of the break, and within striking distance of the playoffs. Obviously they went on the win the division. Here’s five teams to watch out for in the second-half.

Miami Marlins (47-41) 6 GB in NL East, T-2nd Wild Card


The Miami Marlins are a surprise team of the year, and they’re playing good baseball as of now. Giancarlo Stanton had an abysmal start to the season, but not he’s catching steam. Maybe his Homerun Derby performance will help him drop some more bombs in the actual games. I’ve noted Yelich’s and Ozuna’s performances before, and their contribution will be key as well. Role players such as Dietrich and Prado will also be important. As for pitching they’re steady. It’s not the most flashy or a deep rotation, but they’re enough to get the job done. If they can make a trade to get a middle of the line starter, it could be the extra boost in the rotation they need to get over the hump. They also get Dee Gordon back from suspension at the end of the month. He won’t be available for postseason play, but they will definitely need him for their playoff push. One thing to watch is Justin Bour’s recovery from an ankle injury that landed him on the DL just before the break. If he can come back right after the 15 days then it could prove to be crucial, otherwise they’re going to have to do something at first base.

New York Yankees (44-44) 7.5 GB in AL East, 5.5 GB Wild Card


The New York Yankees have hovered on the .500 mark for basically the past month and a half. It seems every time they get to .500 they lose back to back games. Hopefully for them after this All-Star Break they can string together a couple of wins to help themselves out. This isn’t a bad team, it’s basically the same roster from last year’s playoff team, this year’s team just needs to find consistency. If you watch the Yankees you know they go as Ellsbury and Gardner go. The Yankees rarely lose when both of them score at least one run, and they have the added help of Carlos Beltran’s outstanding year so far. Consistency is their key. The whole first half if they were pitching they weren’t hitting, if they were hitting they weren’t pitching. Two callups could be their ace in the hole. Luis Severino whom the Yankees optioned to AAA after he came off the DL on May 30th. He was sent down to figure things out, if indeed he’s figured it out he’s the power arm the Yankees don’t have. Aaron Judge who’s actually going to be out for a few weeks with an injury could provide relief in the DH spot. Alex Rodriguez isn’t getting it done, and the Yankees need to keep Beltran healthy for the home stretch. They’re not selling contrary to all the rumors. This team is unpredictable, but it’s a team of veterans who’ve been there before, and you can’t count them out.

Houston Astros (48-41) 5.5 GB AL West, 2 GB Wild Card


Well, Houston is back in the mix after a slow start to the season. They’ve won 11 of their last 16 games, and hopped over the Mariners in the standings. Their pitching was subpar at best to begin with, but it’s coming around. Colby Rasmus was their main source of offense in the first quarter of the season, but he’s cooled off lately and the other guys have picked it up. They switched up the batting order moving George Springer to the leadoff spot and dropping Jose Altuve to the three spot so he can drive in some more runs.Springer has done nothing but produce at the leadoff spot, and Altuve is Altuve hitting .341/.413/.542 and a .954 OPS. Lance McCullers who was so great for them last season needs to pick it up. Over his last seven starts he’s 3-2 with a 3.48 ERA. If they can get the McCullers from last season along with Keuchel then they could honestly fight their way back into contention for a division title.

St. Louis Cardinals (46-42) 7 GB NL Central, 1 GB Wild Card


They’re only a game back of the Wild Card, but with the Chicago Cubs struggles they could find themselves back in the thick of things for a division title. They won 100 games last year, and would need to win 54 more games to do reach that total. Their problem is making sure everyone stays healthy, and pitching. Matt Carpenter is currently on the shelf with a strained oblique, which I can tell you from personal experience is no fun at all. He’s not scheduled to return for another 3-4 weeks. Matt Holliday is day-to-day with an ankle injury. Hopefully that’s healed up by the time they com out of the break. Pitching wise Carlos Martinez has been their best asset. He’s 8-6 with a 2.85 ERA, the next closest guy in terms of ERA is Jaime Garcia with a 4.01 ERA. Adam Wainwright has been no good this year even though he should be fully healed from his ruptured achilles from last season. Trevor Rosenthal was stripped of his closer role last month, and they need him to get back to form. If they can find consistency in their pitching they should be able to hold it down until Carpenter gets back.

Pittsburgh Pirates (46-43) 7.5 GB NL Central, 1.5 GB Wild Card


If the rest of the National League isn’t careful, we could have another NL Central trifecta in the playoffs. Their offense is coming back around and Andrew McCutchen who had been somewhat irrelevant throughout the first half of the season is starting to find his way. In his last seven games he’s hitting .333 with two home runs and six RBI’s. Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte have been consistent all year and somewhat held down the fort until McCutchen could find his stride. Like the Cardinals they need to find consistency in pitching, and they need to find it fast. As far as ERA goes Jon Niese is as good as they got with a 5.13 ERA. Gerrit Cole threw a simulated game on Sunday as he’s recovering from a tricep injury. All went well with that, and it looks as though he could return next week. Should they get him back in a timely manner, and he pitches like the Gerrit Cole we know then the Pirates along with the Cardinals could potentially catch the Cubs.


Written by: Tre LyDay

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