Biggest Disappointment in Baseball

It would be really hard for anyone to find a national media outlet that did not think the Chicago White Sox would run away with the AL Central this season.  Chicago was supposed to be a World Series contender.  A loaded lineup, a rotation led by Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Lance Lynn, one of the games best closers in the league in Liam Hendricks.  We sit here in late September, currently the Sox are five games back of the Cleveland Guardians and have no signs of making any sort of surge. Where did it go wrong?  Here are three reasons why the White Sox stink in 2022. 

Rotation was a mess

The White Sox let Carlos Rodon walk heading into 2022.  Rodon was coming off of his best season in the majors but his injury problems made him tough to sign for a longterm deal.  But losing Rodon wasn’t a big deal because the White Sox were prepared.  They planned to bring longtime prospect Michael Kopech into the rotation. They signed veterans to fill in the gaps- Johnny Cueto and Vincent Velasquez.  They also had the always reliable Dallas Keuchel, oh wait he was an abomination. 

Keuchel’s downfall was unexpected but the real surprise came from the regression of ace Lucas Giolito. Giolito’s career has been a roller coaster of performance regression – progression and now back to regression. A lot could be attributed to bad luck, his BABIP during the 2022 season is currently at .350. It has been the walks and poor defense that led to the downfall of the season.   Giolito is walking another batter per game compared to 2021, those runners are scoring at a higher rate compared to his previous stellar seasons.  

With Giolito regressing, Michael Kopech’s inconsistency, outside of Dylan Cease Chicago had no pitcher they could rely on on a weekly basis. 

Offensive decline of Yasmani Grandal

Yasmani Grandal had a remarkable season in 2021.  His OBP was .420, with a 23% walk rate, he was also able to add some power popping 23 dingers.  2022 was a completely different story for the Sox backstop, his 71 WRC+ is an astronomical 81 point drop from last season.  His OBP dropped 120 points which could be due to his walk rate dropping so drastically.

Grandal was the guy that forced opposing pitchers to throw to the power bats in the middle of the White Sox lineup.  Without his ability to get on base and injuries to Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada limiting their production the line wasn’t able to get consistency.

Defense matters

Simple fact, defnese may be the most underappreciated element in baseball. The White Sox have been a complete disaster all season.  They rank 24th overall in defensive runs saved and currently are second to last in the league in errors. 

Chicago took the little league approach, it was more important for them to get their young developing bats in the lineup rather than put out solid defensive players.  Gavin Sheets and Andrew Vaughn are both exciting offensive players, but they both profile as first baseman rather than corner outfielders.  First baseman is a position that is currently occupied by former AL MVP Jose Abreu and the DH spot was occupied by slugger Eloy Jimenez (not an upgrade defensively).  Sheets and Vaughn have combined for a total of 8 errors in the outfield and more than a couple blooper videos on youtube that will live on forever.  

The Sox infield defense has not been much better, shortstop Tim Anderson has been a defensive liability most of his career and despite an injury riddled season he still had ten errors, Jose Abreu accompanied him with 12 errors and third baseman Jake Burger added another 12 errors.  The best offense in the world is not going to help you win games when you are handing over runs every inning.  

AL Teams that benefit from expanded playoffs

Detroit Tigers

Most overlooked the Tigers in 2021.  After a brutal start to the season the young Tigers squad actually put together a respectable season finishing 77-85, finishing third in the division.  Detroit went into the offseason looking to fill out their rotation with some veteran arms and find some pop to add to the middle of the lineup.  They were successful in both. 

The Tigers added veterans Micheal Pineda and Eduardo Rodriguez to a rotation that was highlighted with young arms.  Former first overall pick Casey Mize should still be looked at as the ace of the staff but the addition of Rodriguez is an under the radar move that could make the Tigers a serious threat in the Central Division.  Rodriguez was 13-8 last year with an ERA of 4.74, his expected ERA was actually just 3.50, he was a victim of the short porches of Fenway Park on multiple occasions.  He should thrive in a much more pitcher friendly park in Detroit.  The Tigers also feature two young arms, Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal, both project to make huge strides in 2022.  The rotation will also get a huge boost with the addition of gold glover Tucker Barnhart behind the plate.  

The offense needed to add more pop in the offseason, they ranked in the bottom of baseball in isolated power. They added power hitter Javy Baez as well as announced that Spencer Torkelson will start the season on the MLB roster.  Baez brings some baggage, he is a strikeout machine that can be his own worst enemy at times but his speed and gap power should play well in Comerica Park.  Detroit still has the veteran presence of Miggy Cabrera and Jonathon Schoop in the middle of the lineup and a litany of speed throughout the lineup that puts pressure on the opposing defense.  AJ Hinch allows his team to play to their strengths and it paid off last year and should help them get to the next level in 2022.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners were supposed to be a few years away from contention.  Top level prospects Logan Gilbert, Julio Rodriguez and Jared Kelenic were “eventually” going to find their way to the show. Rather than wait the Mariners exceeded expectations and put together an unfathomable 90 win season. Now the prospects are ready and the expectations are as high as they have ever been in Seattle.  

The Mariners won 90 games with one of the worst offenses in all of baseball, they were 30th in batting average, 28th in OBP and 22nd in isolated power.  Basically the offense needed improvement.  For the on-base percentage, they added Adam Frazier, coming off an all-star season where he featured an OBP of .368. For the power they added Jesse Winker, coming off a season where he slugged .558 and a .251 ISO, Winker can also get on base a little big with a .398 OBP.  A fully healthy Mitch Haniger will be huge for the middle of the order.  Seattle will rely on their youth to take a step forward but they have done more than enough to fill in a lineup that was loaded with holes. 

The Mariners also bolstered their rotation by adding Cy Young award winner Robbie Ray.  Ray was lights out for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021, he will now have been playing in a much more pitcher friendly ballpark.  Despite his success last season Robbie Ray still has question marks about consistency.  Ray’s overall success can be attributed to his ability to finally throw strikes consistently.  In the disaster that was 2020, Ray’s BB/9 reached as high as 7, in 2021 he had a career best 2.42.  Behind Ray the Mariners feature the top prospect Logan Gilbert, Marco Gonzalez and Chris Flexen who are as solid as any 3-4 starters in the entire league.  They have question marks for the 5th spot but overall this is a solid rotation that can compete with any inside of the division.

The Mariner’s bullpen has Paul Sewald, Ken Giles, Drew Steckenrider and Diego Castillo.  All interchangeable parts that can close, go multiple innings or maybe even start if needed.  It’s solid and I didn’t even name everyone.

Erasing a Legend

There are always going to be strong feelings one way or the other about the “steroid” era in baseball.  While some say the boost of power saved baseball, others will tell you that it is a .  Every player will forever be followed by a question, Did you cheat?  It’s like their shadow, always following them.  They will never be able to escape it.  Yesterday the greatest star of that era felt the effects of the mistakes of many.  Barry Bonds will officially be removed from the Hall of Fame ballot.  His legacy will not be enshrined with the greatest the sport has ever seen.  Time will erase him from America’s pastime.  He is now just a name in the records books that the greats of the future will be chasing. 

Barry Bonds Resume

14-time all-star

Single season homerun champion

All time homerun champion

8-time gold glover

12-time silver slugger

2-time batting champion

7-time NL MVP

Bonds resume speaks for itself.  He could do anything on a baseball field, run, hit, throw, defend.  The definition of a  five tool player.  In a time where power was king he wore the crown and there was no one that could challenge him.  Even in his final season at the age of 43 Bonds was able to make an impact by leading the league in walks (132).  When his career ended there was little doubt that he was in the argument to be the greatest baseball player of all time.  The decision to leave him out of the hall of fame is not only wrong but it continues baseball’s unwillingness to grow.  Baseball would rather hide its history than face it.  By leaving him out they are hoping that he will be forgotten.  They cast aside the Black Sox in 1919, they cut all ties they could with Pete Rose and now they are dismissing their home run champion.  

I am not here to say Barry Bonds is a model citizen. He was disliked by the media and his teammates throughout his career. He rubbed the fanbase the wrong way on more than one occasion.  He was found guilty of perjury by a grand jury. Did he take steroids?  Yes, I think he did, but he was playing in a time where that was the norm.  He did what he had to do to stay on top of the game.  It was wrong and he was punished by the court of public opinion as well as the actual courts.  If you want to put an asterix on his plaque then do it, but to leave him out is wrong. Cooperstown is supposed to be the place where legends are immortalized.  Baseball’s entire history is supposed to be enshrined there.  If you leave out Bonds you are ignoring a whole decade of dominance. 

Erasing history is never the right decision. The MLB needs to step in and do something about this.  Bonds will forever be tarnished, but his impact on the game is undoubtable.  His legacy will be imprinted in their record books. He deserves to have his name imprinted on a plaque.  It would show growth, put him, use an asterix, just put him in.

Free Agents Cardinals should add (Non-Shortstops)

The needs of the St. Louis Cardinals are obvious to most that watched the 2021 version.  Edmundo Sosa and Paul Dejong felt like fillers for a position of need at shortstop.  The offseason free agent market will allow for multiple options in one of the greatest free agent markets of all time for the position.  The Cardinals could go aftera number of great players, Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, Corey Seager or Javy Baez.  Adding a shortstop along with another starting pitcher should be the #1 objective for the Cards in the offseason but they also could look at trying to add some depth on the bench as well as some help with the pitching staff.  Here are five of my favorite underrated potential signings. 

Eduardo Escobar, Utility,  (2.4 WAR)

I feel like I have been writing about Eduardo Escobar for a few years now.  Escobar had another solid year with 28 homers and .786 OPS. He has the ability to play multiple positions and plays literally every position on the field.  He is a switch hitter that can bat in any part of the lineup.  

St. Louis is in desperate need of a power bat off the bench and Escobar fits the build.  He can play second base and move Tommy Edman over to shortstop, you can still have an impactful bat in the lineup if Arenado or Goldschmidt need a day off, or just have a veteran on the bench.   He is a switch hitter that can bat in any part of the lineup.  

Escobar was  having a great year in Arizona but saw a major dip in his numbers when traded to Milwaukee.  His end of the year slump will make him extremely affordable, his versatility makes him the perfect  fit for most teams and immediately improves the Cardinals bench.

Marcus Stroman, RHP, (3.4 WAR)

Stroman quietly had a great season in 2021.  After sitting out 2020, he started 33 games for the underachieving Mets.  He was top ten in the league with a 3.02 ERA, he also included a 1.15 WHIP.  He included his top strikeout percentage in his career with a 21% K rate. 

At just 30 years old he still has a lot of productive years ahead of him. Stroman has shown the ability to be a top of the rotation guy in his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, he also excelled as the #1 option for team USA in the World Baseball Classic.  

Stroman is an innings eater that can compete for a top spot in the rotation. The Cardinals could get him for an affordable rate at around 4-years, $100 million.  

Kendall Graveman, RHP, (1.3 WAR)

Graveman converted to the bullpen full time in 2021.   He saw an increase in fastball velocity to an average of 96 mph and added a slider that got him up to a 27% K rate.  Graveman was surprisingly traded to the eventual American League champion Houston Astros  after dominating for the Mariners in 30 games.  During his time with Seattle, Graveman had 10 saves, with a 0.82 ERA and a .69 WHIP. 

The Cardinals bullpen was one of the highlights most of the season.  Additions of journeymen TJ McFarland and Luis Garcia helped carry a load of young pitchers that were overused during the 2021 season.  St. Louis will get Jordan Hicks back next season to go along with TJ McFarland, Genesis Cabrera, Kodi Whitley and Closer, Gio Gallegos.  The Cardinals will give Alex Reyes a chance to be in the starting rotation next year which means adding at least one power reliever.  Graveman would give St. Louis a solid arm that can go multiple innings and give relief to their young arms.  If he needs to be put in the closer spot, he can do it, if needed to pitch the 6th, he can do it, if he needs to open and go three innings, he can do it.  

Michael Conforto, OF, (2.9 WAR)

St. Louis has the outfield basically spoken for.  The combination of Tyler O’Neil, Harrison Bader and Dylan Carlson was as good as you can ask for in developing players.  The fourth outfielder all season was a rotating door of instability.  Justin Williams, Austin Dean and Lars Nootbar all had their chances but didn’t do enough to solidify their roster spot for next season.  The Cardinals need to find a reliable bat that can step right into the lineup and make an impact.  With young players, you get inconsistency, the Cardinals need to add a player that can realistically be a starter.  Also someone that hits with power from the left side would be nice.  What about Michael Conforto?

Conforto is coming off a few injury plagued seasons.  His injuries could see him forced into taking a “prove it” deal with a contender.  The Cardinals could realistically offer him a  chance to get at bats against tough righties as well should versatility producing in a bench role.  If the DH is implemented into the National League next year, he could get a full allotment of at bats.  In 7 seasons Conforto has a career OBP of .354 and a career OPS over .800. As recently as 2019 he hit 33 homers for a Mets team that provided little protection for him.  Imagine putting him in front or behind Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.  

Braves vs Astros- World Series Breakdown

Atlanta Braves vs Houston Astros

The Houston Astros will take on the Atlanta Braves in the 117th World Series.  The Astros will be in their third World Series over the last five years, while the Braves are in the World Series for the first time since 1999.  The Braves took down the favorites of the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Atlanta has spent the entire postseason as the underdog and this will not change.  


The Astros have the advantage over basically any team in baseball. Houston led the AL in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored and hits.  Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker are the new faces of the Astros offense. Alvarez has been the star of the playoffs, hitting .441, with a .791 slug.  Altuve doesn’t have the flashiest numbers, but has scored 15 runs in ten playoff games.  Houston will likely have to sit Michael Brantley during their trips to Atlanta, unless they trust him or Tucker to handle center field. With Alvarez in the outfield the Astros will have to deal with a very large outfield in Truist Park, the fifth largest outfield in baseball.  Even in a national league park the Astros will still be able to put pressure on any pitching staff.  This lineup is just too loaded.

The Braves made a big push at the deadline to improve their outfield.  Adding Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall and NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario to a lineup that featured mainstays Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman.  Austin Riley has been the league’s most improved player in 2022, his progression was what kept the Braves in the hunt at the deadline.  The Braves have a lot of power, their lineup doesn’t have the major star power that the Astros have outside of Freddie Freeman.  Ozzie Albies and Adam Duvall were quietly at the top of most offensive categories The Braves can match the Houston star power with the great depth in the lineup and off the bench. 


These playoffs have seen the advantage of having a strong starting rotation.  The Braves and Astros have both seen the most production from their starters during the playoffs.  The Astros have overcome the injury to Lance McCullers because of the production from Framber Valdez.  Valdez is effective versus power right handed bats because of his breaking ball.  The Astros will need to rely on Luis Garcia again in this series.  He came up huge for Houston in game 6 of the ALCS, going 5+ giving up no runs and sealing the series for Houston.  Valdez and Garcia will have to eat up innings for Houston, veteran Zach Grienke is still a major question mark and they likely will not travel down the Jake Odorizzi path again in this series.  If Houston can get dominance from their top two starters they can utilize a solid bullpen to hold down the powerful Braves lineup.  

The Atlanta rotation isn’t deep but it’s top three gives them an advantage over Houston, they currently have the best starter 3.27 ERA in the playoffs. Ian Anderson has to step up and be better than the Astros questionable potential starters.  Anderson will be slotted in the #3 role which means he will get the start in Atlanta, where he has much better numbers, holding opposing lineups to just a .207 BA against.  The Braves will likely put together a bullpen game for game four.  While Atlanta has some things to figure out after their top three, they still have the advantage in nearly every other matchup in this series.


The Astros have a system to get through their questionable rotation.  They want to get five innings in order to turn it over to their four bullpen arms Ryne Stanek, Phil Maton, Kendall Graveman and Ryan Pressly. Houston has relied on this system through the American League playoffs. The Stros have gotten a lot of swings and misses from opposing batters.  They are a heavy right handed bullpen which could end up being a problem against the power lefty bats of the Braves.  Houston may have the best overall reliever in this series in closer Ryan Pressly.  

The Braves got a lot out of their bullpen in the playoffs.  AJ Minter, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith have all been great in the playoffs.  Smith most notably has recouped from a tough stretch towards the end of the season.  In the postseason Will Smith has been dominant, picking up four saves and giving up no runs over his seven inning pitched. The Braves have seen cracks in Luke Jackson, their righty reliever that had a breakout 2022.  He gave up 5 runs in the NLCS and may need to be used sparingly in the World Series.  Luckily for Atlanta, they have veteran Jesse Chavez who can step up and handle the role of righty shutdown reliever. 


I loved the Braves over the Brewers, I thought they could compete with the Dodgers.  I think they have enough to take down the favorite Houston Astros.  The loss of Lance Mccullers was able to be masked in their series with the Boston Red Sox.  The Braves bring better pitching to this series and an offense that can match the Astros.  The Astros look of invincibility at home took a hit after their game two loss to Boston.  Veteran Charlie Morton and an experienced Atlanta offense will get them a victory in game one and a victory in the series. 

Pick: Atlanta Braves in 6

ALCS Breakdown and Prediction

Boston Red Sox vs Houston Astros 

The ALCS is set. One team that has become a cornerstone of the event and a team that has come out of nowhere to shock the baseball world. The Red Sox will head to Houston for game one, for the third time in this postseason they will be the underdog. Boston is coming off a forgettable 2020 season, finishing 24-36, dead last in the AL East. The organization had to start the season without their ace Chris Sale and dealt with injuries to the pitching staff all season.They will face off with the Astros, making their fifth straight appearance in the ALCS 

Both teams have explosive offenses, ranking 2nd (Houston) and 3rd (Boston) in slugging percentage and OPS.  The Astros are 1st in the league in OBP, Red Sox are 4th.  Both teams relied on their offense to carry them in their division series matchups. 

Houston has the deepest lineup in the league. Kyle Tucker could arguably have been the best player in baseball in the second half of the season. He carried his hot streak into the NLDS, hitting two dingers and driving in seven runs.  Tucker could be in the middle of any lineup in the league but he sits in the seven spot in the Houston lineup behind a litany of all-stars and this year’s American League batting champion Yuli Gurriel.  Martin Maldonado would be the only spot in the order where you could conceivably have a “break” but manager Dusty Baker will not hesitate to pinch hit for him when necessary.  This lineup is stacked.

The Red Sox have an offense that can match the Astros for depth.  Featuring multiple power hitters up and down the lineup, they will need another solid performance from the top of the lineup to give the red hot Rafael Devers a chance to drive in runs.  Enrique Hernandez and Kyle Schwarber have to continue to set the tone the way they have so far during the playoffs. JD Martinez looks like he is healthy enough to make an impact giving the Red Sox the full allotment of their talent.  

Pitching has been a question for Boston most of the season. Can their staff match up with the vaunted Houston offense.  Chris Sale is coming off a forgettable start against the Rays in game 2.  Eduardo Rodriguez has been inconsistent to say the least. The Sox have been forced to rely on the resurgent Nathan Eovaldi and their bullpen to get them to this point. The secret weapon of the Boston staff is Tanner Houck.  Houck pitched in three games during the NLDS, surrendering just three hits in his seven inning pitched.  Houck along with newly appointed closer Garrett Whitlock give Boston two pieces that they will be able to go to at any time.  The Red Sox were able to make it work in a smaller series but they may be stretched thin in a full seven game series.  

The Astros were able to get two starts out of Lance McCullers in the division series. They will need his stability in this series against the power bats of the Red Sox.  After McCullers, the Astros will have Framber Valdez who has the ability to handle the right-handed power bats of the Red Sox.  The Astros still don’t know what they are going to get out of Zack Greinke, but they have their own weapon that could be used in the bullpen or as a starter in Cristian Javier.  Javier could play a big role due to his ability to be versatile.  Unlike the Red Sox the Astros know exactly what they want to do in their bullpen.  If their starters can get them to the fifth or sixth, you line up Ryne Stanek, Kendall Graverman and Ryan Pressly to seal the deal. 

The similarities between these two teams is pretty remarkable. They are offensive juggernauts that are still trying to piece together what they want to do with their pitching.  The Sox are led by former Astros coach Alex Cora who has brought in a lot of the same concepts on the offensive side of the ball  (not sign stealing).  The Red Sox have the power to compete with the Astros, ultimately it will come down to the pitching depth Houston brings to the table and their home field advantage.  The Red Sox are a great story, but Chris Sale doesn’t seem right and after Nathan Eovaldi Boston has too many questions in their rotation.  Boston has enough to win a few games but the Astros are just  better defensively and on the mound.  Houston will get a scare by losing game one, but the Astros will regroup and take the series at home. 

Pick: Astros in 5

AL Wild Card Preview and Prediction

The world wanted madness.  The AL Wild Card race was looking to try and give us that Michael Bay explosive scene that could captivate the sports world.  On Sunday we didn’t get the madness we hoped.  The Red Sox and Yankees retained order, winning their games and forcing the clock to strike midnight for playoff cinderellas, Seattle and Tornonto.  While we didn’t get the excitement we hoped for heading into a potential game 163 for multiple teams, we did however get a matchup between two historic rivals that will no doubt be a huge part in rebuilding a modern day rivalry that has taken a backseat to many over the last few years.  This game will be an epic encounter that will likely help decide the future aspirations of both teams.  The Red Sox will have decisions to make as they continue to rebuild their farm system, they overachieved in 2021, while the Yankees, many would say underachieved.  New York has a bloated roster full of expensive pieces that if they do not work will have to be shuffled in order to find the right formula, something that will be a challenge for years to come.  Both of these historic organizations need to make their run now before the upstart Blue Jays and their young core make them an afterthought in the years to come.  This game will not only be before the Wild Card, but potentially the future of these franchises for the next five – ten years. 

Pitching Matchup: Gerrit Cole vs Nathan Eovaldi 

The Yankees had the luxury of saving their ace Gerrit Cole for just this suation, a do or die situation on the road.  Cole has not been good against Boston this year, in four starts this season he is 2-2 with a 4.51 ERA and an opponent OPS of .852.  Cole has a career record of 8-4 with a 2.68 ERA in the playoffs including a loss in his only Wild Card start for the Pirates in 2015. Much like the Yankees, Cole has been pretty even statistically on the road when compared to home.  The Yankees will have a short leash if necessary, due to the depth of the Yankee bullpen.  Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga and Clay Holmes will bridge the gap to Aroldis Chapman.  The Yankees would prefer to lean on Cole but they have the assets in the pen to keep them in the game if Cole is not on his game. 

Nathan Eovaldi has become an All-Star in 2021.  He stepped into the role left by Chris Sale at the beginning of the season, he was the ace of this Red Sox team all season. Eovaldi finished the season with 11 wins and 3.75 ERA, most notably though was his 1.19 WHIP and a FIP of 2.79.    Eovaldi has a challenge ahead of him, facing one of the best teams in baseball at taking pitches.  In his career the Red Sox starter has been very good against the Yankees, through 71 innings pitched he had just a 3.64 ERA.  If you take out his most recent start on Sept 24th against the Yankees his career numbers are very good.  He is a veteran that will not be intimidated by the moment.  Eovaldi will not be asked to do more than he is capable of, his job will be to keep the Red Sox in the game and let the offense win it in the end.


Both teams went out and addressed needs during the season.  The Yankees were dealing with injuries to Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks, they went out and got Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo. The Red Sox needed some more thump in the lineup so they went out and added slugging outfielder Kyle Schwarber.   

The Sox have one of the deepest lineups in baseball, averaging 5.12 runs per game on the season.  They are second in baseball in slugging percentage and 3rd in batting average.  The depth of the lineup has been huge all season, Bobby Dalbec has become a force in the lineup, popping 25 homers  on the season from the 7th spot in the lineup.  The key will be the top of the lineup, Enrique Hernandez has owned Gerrit Cole in his career going 5-for-11, while Rafael Devers has three homers in 19 at-bats against the Yankees ace.   The Red Sox will need to jump on Cole early on in order to get the crowd into the game and put pressure on the Yankee offense that will be down a lot of key contributors.  

The Yankees will be without DJ LeMahieu at the top of the order. In his absence they have turned to Gleyber Torres, who has performed admirably in his absence but overall has not put together a stellar season.  Torres will have to get on base in order to force Eovaldi to pitch to the crowded middle of the Yankees order.  Aaron Judge and Gianocarlo Stanton will provide the pop needed to jump on Eovaldi similarly to the way the Yankees jumped on him in his last start against the Bronx Bombers.  That start saw him leave in just the third inning after giving up seven runs.  New York was patient that night, forcing Eovaldi to throw a lot of pitches, a number of the hits he gave up came on 4+ pitch at bats.  If the Yankees are patient they will get pitches to hit and have the bats that can make it a tough day for the Fenway faithful. 

Final Verdict

In a winner take all situation I tend to lean with the team that has the better pitching.  The Yankees will have their ace on the mound and a bullpen that had a 3.66 ERA in the regular season (compared to Bostons 3.99).  The difference though may be the depth of the lineup favoring the Red Sox.  With Cole on the mound Gary Sanchez will likely be on the bench in favor of Cole’s personal catcher Kyle Hishioka.  That takes a power bat out of the lineup along with the table setter in LaMhieu.  New York will need all the runs it can muster against a Boston lineup that can be dangerous 1-9 and will have a huge home field advantage.  

Red Sox win 4-2

Why the Mets stunk in 2021

It’s always hard to admit when you are wrong. It happens and this season it happened to me when I predicted that the New York Mets were going to win the NL East.  After watching a three game sweep at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals at home I realized that the New York Mets straight up stink.

On April 1st the New York Mets signed superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor to a ten-year deal.  The addition of Lindor to go along with Pete Alonso will be cornerstones of the offensive side of the ball.  The Mets organization has shown that they will do anything to get to the top of the NL East.  They continue to make moves to try and fill in their vacant spots by adding big names in the offseason.  They opened the season as one of the hottest teams in baseball, taking control of the division up until the midway point of the season.  New York went on a tailspin that they still have not gotten out of.  

Travel Issues

Teams have troubles on the road in every sport.  The best teams usually can be a few games over .500 or at the very least at .500.  If you want to compete for a playoff spot you have to be able to play on the road and the Mets are not able to do that.  Currently they are 29-44 on the road this season. In retrospect of how that has affected them in the playoff hunt, they are 5.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves who are 7 games above .500 on the road.  The difference has been the reason that they have fallen behind in the division and out of contention.

No replacements for Degrom

There is no way to replace the best pitcher in baseball. The goal of any team should be to improve the full pitching staff.  You have to find a way to mask the loss rather than look for one person to step into the role.  The Mets did their best, adding Rich Hill, Brad Hand and Trevor Williams to the pitching staff.  Unfortunately the Mets rotation saw second half regression from pitchers that they thought they could depend on.  

Tajuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco, and Tylor Megill were all supposed to be relied upon to help the Mets deal with the injury to their ace.  They all were unable to fill the hole left by the best pitcher in the game and it ultimately caved in their chances at the playoffs.

Walker over his last 15 starts is 1-8 with an ERA over 6.  Post All-Star break Walker has not won a single game.  

Carlos Carrasco was the second piece picked up in the Lindor trade.  Carrasco was not just a throw-in, in 2017 he led the league in wins and sports an impressive career ERA of just 3.82.  When healthy Carrasco was a formidable piece to any rotation.  The Met’s unfortunately did not get a healthy Carrasco, limited to just 10 starts in 2021, he has not been the pitcher of 2017 and 2018, currently he sports an unimpressive 5.82 ERA in just 44 innings.  

Tylor Megill began his 2021 season looking like a diamond in the rough for the Mets.  In July Megill was lights out, pitching 26 innings and giving up just 3 runs in his 5 starts.  Since July Megill seemed to lose his control, sporting an ERA of 7.66 over his last 5 starts.  

You can’t protect Alonso

The Mets have one of the most exciting players in baseball.  Alonso has had a solid season hitting 33 dingers and knocking in 89 runs.  The addition of Francisco Lindor was supposed to help be a table setter for the powerful Alonso, but injuries and inconsistencies at the plate hurt the entire Mets lineup.  Lindor has not been the $300 million spark plug that the Mets were hoping they got.  

Lindor has not been the only problem, an injury to Michael Conforto got him off to a slow start and lineup mainstays Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith and JD Davis are all currently hitting well below their projected numbers.  The Mets as a team are slugging just .325, which ranks in the bottom five of the entire league. 

The Met’s did a great job in addressing this problem at the deadline by acquiring Javy Baez, despite my personal opinion of his abilities, Baez has put up more than solid numbers during his time with the organization.  His slash line of .301/.381/.565 is outstanding but his acquisition was too late for an offense that needed that spark from the start of the season. 

Low Expectations, High Reward Players

There are stars in baseball and there are roles players. Very few teams can win a division, let alone a championship without multiple pieces doing their part. The Dodgers last season were a team that was made up of stars like Mookie Betts and Clayton Kershaw. They had tons of talent but they would not have been able to win a championship without super utility player Chris Taylor or journeymen turned stars Max Muncy and Justin Turner. Some players have long careers and take a while to find themselves. Some were highly touted prospects that just took a little longer than most expected. This season there are a few players that have stood out to me as potential game changers to already strong rosters.

Christian Arroyo- Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox were looking for some offensive help in the offseason. They added power bat Hunter Renfroe and super utility men Enrique Hernandez and Marwin Gonzalez.  The off the radar addition of Christain Arroyo has paid off as much if not more then any of them. 

Arroyo was moved to the lead off position to fill the gap left by the struggling Enrique Hernandez.  He has done nothing but produce since the move going 9 for 24. The former Giants first round pick has set the table for the big bats in the lineup, forcing opposing pitchers to challenge Rafael Devers and Xander Bogearts.  

Taking a chance on a former top prospect is always something organizations like to do and Arroyo looks like he may become a late bloomer, he was ranked as high as #62 overall as recently as 2016.  His time with the Giants never panned out, he was moved in the blockbuster deal that brought Evan Longoria to San Franciscio. Never really catching on with the Rays, Arroyo became a journeyman that is finally finding a home, still just 26 years old he could still be an impact player in the league.  He currently boasts a .792 OPS and it is climbing as Red Sox manager Alex Cora has shown big time confidence in him.

Patrick Wisdom- Chicago Cubs

Patrick Wisdom was always that prospect in the St. Louis’ system that the fans were waiting to see make an impact.  That time never occurred in St. Louis, in fact it seemed like Wisdom was never going to cash in on the promise he showed when he smacked 31 homers in triple-A in 2017.  The Cardinals moved on from Wisdom, he ended up in Texas where he got a short opportunity before being sent on his way to the Chicago Cubs in the offseason. 

The Cubs likely had very little plan to utilize Wisdom, but injuries and poor play led to the chance for the 29 year old and he has taken full advantage of it in just ten games.  Wisdom has matched the record set by Reds Aristedes Aquino by hitting 8 homers in just ten games. Regression is obviously coming but the impact that Wisdom has made on the Cubs since being inserted into the lineup has led them to the top of the the NL Cental. 

Taijaun Walker- New York Mets

Much like the aforementioned Christain Arroyo, Taijuan Walker was a big deal coming up through the minors for the Seattle Mariners. Things never really worked out in Seattle, but Walker seemed to find himself once he was moved to the Arizona Diamondbacks.  In 2017 Walker was just 9-9 but was able to set career marks in nearly every statistic, ERA, xFIP, K/9 and BA against.  Walker dealt with a few injury riddled seasons in 2018 and 2019 but again showed his improvement once healthy in 2020.  

He entered the offseason is an afterthought, eventually signing with the Mets for a meager 3yr, $23 million dollar contract.  Walker has vaulted into the #2 spot in the Mets rotation and has helped them overcome a lackluster start from their offense.  Despite two different stints on the IL, Walker has still amassed 11 starts, 5 wins, 2.07 ERA, 2.83 FIP and a 1.8 WAR.  

Willy Adames- Milwaukee Brewers

Trading Willy Adames was a surprise to a lot of major league baseball.  Adames is still just 25 years old and is coming off of his best season in the bigs, helping lead the Rays to the AL pennant.  Adames’s time with the Rays was numbered with Wander Franco likely making his debut sooner rather than later but the Brewers may have found themselves a gem at a low cost.  

Adames has always brought a great glove with him but last season he peaked with a 124 WRC+, while knocking in 29 runs in a shortened season.  Adames had been struggling at the plate early in the season but since the move has lit a fire under a Brewers offense that needed all the help they could get.  In 15 games with the Brew Crew, Adames has driven in 11 runs.  He will never consistently hit over .300, but he will be productive against lefties and can provide stability at a position that the Brewers have had very little success getting production.  

Rich Hill- Tampa Bay Rays

Rich Hill is 41 years old.  He made his debut in 2005 for Chicago Cubs, since that day he has played for nine different teams all around the MLB and has been a mix of effective and embarrassing. The latter being as bad as anyone has seen in all of baseball. Since 2016, though Hill has found himself as a pitcher and when healthy he has been a staple in competetive rotations. Hill has pitched for the Athletics, Dodgers and Twins helping them all get to the playoffs.  

The Rays have a history of striking gold when no one expects and it looks like Hill is the latest achievement for the Tampa front office. He is currently 5-2 with a 3.09 ERA and has made 12 starts without finding himself on the disabled list.  What is amazing about Hill is that in an era that has multiple flamethrowers on every team Hill gets out by utilizing his spin rate and precision.  Since spin rate has been measured in 2015, Hill ranks at the top of most categories for two different pitches (fastball and curveball).  The Rays as a staff are elite, but they do lack a true #2 starter behind Tyler Glasnow, Hill may be the answer.

Why the Angels stink.

The Angels have Mike Trout and Shohei Otani.  One is currently the best baseball player alive, the other is a modern day Babe Ruth that is revolutionizing the game.  Those two player alone should make them a legit contender in any division in major league baseball.  At least, that’s what many baseball analysts believed at the start of 2021.  A popular pick to take the next step this season has been nothing but a disappointment.  They currently are 20-27 just dead last in their division.  The Angels have tons of talent but…they stink.  Why?

They signed Jose Quintana.

Blaming Quintana is harsh but honestly what did they think they were getting.  The Angels had to do something to bolster their rotation but adding Quintana wasn’t putting a bandaid on a cut it was like pouring vinegar on it. Quintana is second on the team in starts and features a glorious 8.53 ERA.  The Angels should have seen this coming, the former White Sox All-Star was coming off of his worst season in the bigs with the Chicago Cubs.  The argument could have been made that it was a small sample size and Wrigley field is a nightmare for any pitcher, but if you take a deeper dive you see that he is giving up massive hard hit rates.  Currently Quintana has a HR/Flyball rate of 21%,  that is five point higher than what was the highest of his career when he gave up a 16% HR/Flyball rate.  He is giving up the long ball like he has a contract incentive.  

The Angels have long had issues with their pitching staff and relying on a veteran that was showing regression in every major category is a huge reason why they stink.  But it is not the only reason. 

Quintana isn’t even the worst.

Signing an regressing veteran to fill in a need in your rotation is dumb. What is even dumber is spending all your money on bats when your staff is throwing BP to the opposing offenses. As a staff, the Angels are ranked dead last in ERA, dead last in WHIP, 28th in isolated power and 28th in OPS.  This pitching staff is not only bad, it is historically pathetic. 

Dylan Bundy was a great story in 2020 but he has regressed to the underwhelming pitcher that was in Baltimore. 

Grffin Canning has potential.  At least that is what I keep hearing.  I have never actually seen it but I feel like the Angels keep telling themselves that Canning is good eventually they will be right.  

The bullpen is laughable.  Mike Mayers was closing for them at one point this season.  The same Mayers that had a historically bad MLB debut with the Cardinals back in 2016 (look it up if you haven’t seen it.) 

The Angels loaded their team with top of the order bats but that they could just fill some holes in the pen and rotation.  It hasn’t worked and unless they randomly strike pitching gold, this team is going to live in the poor house.

Where is Jo Adell?

Angels top prospect Jo Adell was not an immediate impact bat when he made his debut in 2020.  While he didn’t dazzle in his first taste of the bigs he has begun the minor league season showing the potential that he possesses.  The former 10th overall pick of the Angels in 2017 has already hit 10 homeruns in just 17 games this season at triple-A.  The Angels offense has found some hidden gems over the last two seasons with Jared Walsh and David Fletcher taking over major roles in the offense but injuries have depleted alot of the offense and as a team they could use some new blood to spark the team. Also David Fletcher is horrible right now.  

Adell isn’t a big need.  The offense has been productive despite losses of key contributors throughout the season. When a team is in a funk they need to find a way to inspire and the power and youth of Adell can help overcome the problems they are having with the pitching staff.