MLB Second Half Preview

Welcome to what we call the Dog Days of Summer, the time from post All-Star Break up until Labor Day when Baseball to me is that soothing element in life which gets us through this quiet period in the world.  Ha.  Quiet period in the world, who is this guy writing this garbage?

But seriously, my favorite memory of August Baseball actually came in my early Adulthood years.  It was the one time I agreed that we should take the Family up to where my Wife used to Vacation on the Cape instead of going down south to the heat and humidity of the Carolina’s where I am currently in fact.   See, who says I didn’t win anything as I sit here scratching poison oak on one hand and mosquito bites on my legs.  It’s fine damnit, I am fine.

That’s actually a metaphor for the current season but back to my original story.  The kids were young and we had this nice house and it was before Twitter or Instagram time and at night there was no noise around and they had this room with a recliner and the TV which of course — got Red Sox games.  It was early August and I just watched that in peace and that has forever stuck as my memory for the dog days of summer.

There are other memories, like the fact that NFL is going to take over the “talk” but you aren’t making money on Training Camp practices yet, so we are still grinding out MLB DFS lineups every day for the next 2.5 months, but especially the next 7 weeks, which for those who have been with me you may recall was a pretty good 50k hit last year and some 10k+ hits the prior years as well.

So what can we expect overall on the MLB landscape in the second half?  First we have to recognize what we have learned in the first half.

About those mosquito bites that we are ignoring.  I am referring to the dead Baseball’s, which many including me thought would just go away in the Summer months and on the random Friday or Saturday afternoon slate they have.  But for the most part, they are here to stay through the summer months, although yes I do think certain ‘series’ will have different Baseball’s in them but 90% of the games are going to be with the dead balls and we will just ignore it and accept it.

Line drives will remain king like they have been in the first half.  Pulling the ball will be even more key as well as some pitchers are going to lose some velocity in the second half due to tired arms and thus hitters might find it easier to pull in some situations.

Bullpens are getting a nice breather here at the all-star break but once you get to August 1st and most teams realize they are not going anywhere, you’ll get new guys getting chances which can go the route of 5 ER in 0.1 IP or 2 IP of shutout ball.  Point is, bullpens are going to be going up and down a ton and keeping an eye on RECENT trends and usage (which we have on the dashboard) is critical.

Let’s take a look at who is going to make the playoffs.

AL DIVISION WINNERS

NY Yankees

No shocker here, the Yankees will hold on to win the AL East but they will not break the Seattle Mariners mark.  Holes are going to show up in their lineup once Stanton has an injury scare and both Anthony Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu go into slumps.  But most of that will be ignored when Joey Gallo, yes, Joey Gallo, hits 15 second half home runs and there is a week during the second half where everyone says — what did Gallo take at the all-star break.

The Yanks’ other issue is not just the Luis Severino health but the fact that Nestor Cortes is going to be limited in the second half both by his production and also because of the team trying to extend him out.  New York will acquire a mid level veteran bat and a quality starting pitcher (Montas).  Possibly in the same trade.

Chicago White Sox

The bad news for White Sox fans here is that they’ll make the playoffs with TLR still managing the team.  If we learned one thing in the first half in this division it is that despite having promising starts, the Guardians and Twins are just not dominant teams in this three team division.  Lance Lynn hasn’t given the White Sox anything, Eloy Jimenez missed most of the first half, as did Tim Anderson it feels like and Jose Abreu is just waiting for August to hit .420 with 10 HR and drive in 35 runs in that month alone.  Outside of Andrew Vaughn and Dylan Cease this team hasn’t had anything promising in the first half.

And they are only three games back.

Game over Minnesota, Cleveland and … well, I won’t even acknowledge those other losers in the back.

Houston Astros

I am sorry Houston, I am sorry for once again doubting you.  The best franchise in baseball is going to keep it going as they seemingly just plug in more International players every time someone else goes down in their rotation or the lineup.  They’ve basically gone to a 6 man rotation already to keep guys fresh and just need to shore up a couple loose ends in the Bullpen and this team is headed back to the World Series again.

The Wild Card Teams

Seattle Mariners

Seattle’s momentum is going to easily keep them in a Wild Card spot even if they hit a wall in September.  This has been a pitching staff which should be relied upon to carry them and we haven’t seen the best of Robbie Ray this season just yet, while Logan Gilbert continues to show signs that he is going to be a top 5 SP in the league from 2023-2024-2025 time frames.

Yes, J-Rod is all the hype, but the heart beat of this team staying in contention are contributions continuing from Ty France, JP Crawford and Jesse Winker.  They take the pressure off J-Rod to let him just be electric

Toronto Blue Jays

I had zero confidence in Toronto being able to win in the playoffs with Charlie Montoyo as their manager, so his firing made a lot of sense to me and I believe Toronto is going to win one of these three playoff spots purely based off their offensive talent carrying them.  From there it likely will still be an early playoff exit because the bullpen is suspect at best though.

The Final Wild Card Spot …

Five teams are going to battle it out for the final Wild Card spot and they are Boston, Tampa, Cleveland, Minnesota and … no, not Baltimore – Texas!

Yes, the Texas Rangers are lurking in the shadows of the Astros and Mariners out west but quietly have turned things around offensively while their Bullpen is pretty good.  In the second half of the season if you can hit and have a strong pen you are going to succeed.  The story which is getting no legs right now is how Texas can potentially bring up both Jack Leiter and now Kumar Rocker to bolster their pitching in the second half.  Talk about a major shot in the arm with two guys who are ready to go and should come up with electric stuff.

Ultimately though, I don’t think Texas is going to quite make it, but they will pass Baltimore, they will pass Cleveland, they will pass Tampa and it will be a contest between the Twins, Red Sox and Rangers who have a lot of games with Oakland, Anaheim and all the teams they are chasing remaining.

If you made me pick at team right now, I am going to say Boston makes a quiet trade to get another starting pitcher as they can’t stand the thought of the Yankees in the playoffs without them — but Boston won’t be stupid and trade away a prospect for it, it will be a rental arm for someone like Brad Keller who can come in and help hold things together for now.

Sorry, I still don’t believe in Minnesota.

FINAL AL Playoff Standings

  1. Yankees
  2. Astros
  3. White Sox
  4. Mariners
  5. Blue Jays
  6. Red Sox

Just OUT

  1. Rangers
  2. Twins

The Senior Circuit is much easier to project.

NL DIVISION WINNERS

New York Mets

I saw the report that Jacob deGrom is being pushed back, however the Mets are as rock solid as any team this year.  A veteran lineup which has a good mix of youth and is being coached brilliantly at the plate to make them in every game with excellent starting pitching and a great Bullpen.  The Mets will run away with the East come September.

St. Louis Cardinals

This is going to turn into who wants to not choke it away between the flawed Cardinals and the flawed Brewers.  If Pittsburgh wasn’t 3 to 4 years away then we could have a great finish in this division but it’s a two headed race and both are going to just stay close enough to try and get hot to steal it late.

For me, the Brewers pitching should have given them an edge to this point and they have blown opportunities, so the Cardinals led by Goldy-Arenado and a second half resurgent Tyler O’Neill will take this division by 3 games.

LA Dodgers

No.  They are not going to choke a 10 game lead.

The Wild Card Teams …

Atlanta Braves

The Braves are currently 18 games over .500 and have a 6 game lead in the Wild Card race with the second team out being 11 games back of Atlanta.  In short, not even the Falcons would likely blow this lead that they have to make the playoffs.  I see no reason why the pitching staff will completely implode and that is their key.  Morton is pitching better which is crucial for them and Fried-Wright should continue to be very solid for Atlanta who at some point might want to contemplate having Strider pitch out of the bullpen in the playoffs as their 6th or 7th inning lights out arm.

San Diego Padres

I am still 100% on the Padres to win the World Series bets I jumped on in May, but can Fernando Tatis please stop making me sweat and get back on the Baseball Field?  The Pads have the most ammunition by the way to go out and get Soto – but that won’t happen here either in my mind.

The pitching is great, the defense is solid, the manager is elite and if Tatis can come back and get in the lineup they’ll start to hit more.  San Diego is going to make the playoffs and they are going to be a tough out.

Philadelphia Phillies

If I could be the GM for one team in the playoff hunt it would be Philadelphia.  The whole world is going to be out there talking up Juan Soto, Frankie Montas and Luis Castillo and here are the Phillies quietly in the playoff mix without their MVP Bryce Harper.

Philly has Wheeler-Nola which can go 1-2 with any team in the league and I believe Kyle Gibson has an excellent 2nd half for them.  So what does Philadelphia need to do?  They could use some better defense for sure in the outfield or at third and they could use one more arm.

It will never happen, but the Phillies can swoop in and get an under the radar stud trade right now with the Soto distraction.  If I was their GM, I would be driving to Pittsburgh and not leaving until I have acquired Bryan Reynolds and Jose Quintana.  Obviously, Reynolds is the key piece there.  But he has been rumored to be moved if the Pirates can get an offer that blows them away and the two suitors have been the Padres and Yankees – both of whom the Phils can match what they are offering.

But that really is a pipe dream, so Philly could just settle for Myles Straw and Cal Quantrill from the Guardians.

FINAL NL Playoff Standings

  1. Mets
  2. Dodgers
  3. Cardinals
  4. Braves
  5. Padres
  6. Phillies

Just OUT

  1. Miami
  2. Milwaukee
  3. Colorado

Where will Juan Soto be playing in August?

Washington, DC.   He isn’t being traded before the deadline because like in Shark Tank, the biggest Shark is going to declare themselves OUT at this time.  That would be the Yankees, who honestly do not need to make a move for Soto right now when they haven’t gotten a long term deal with Judge done.  All the Yankees have to say to the Nationals is, look, we will pay what it takes, but we would rather do this in the off-season.

And there dies any deal.  The Nationals would then be stupid to not wait until December to listen to offers from the biggest shark as they do not have to deal Soto right now and heck they don’t even have to deal him in the off-season yet either.

So unless the Padres counter with, we will give you Gore-Abrams and Robert Hassell right now (they wouldnt do that, that would be ridiculous) then a deal is not getting done without the Yankees at the table.  And the Yankees, are leaving the table.

Where will Mike Trout be playing in August

Now I got your attention, haven’t I?

I don’t think Mike Trout is hurt.

I think Mike Trout is protesting and quietly telling the Angels front office that he is done and he wants out.  And quietly the Angels front office is more than happy to move Trout because it’s Ohtani who brings in revenue for them with all the Japan money that he brings.  Ohtani is the franchise for the Angels and Trout should be traded IMMEDIATELY for the haul that he would bring.

Personally, I think this is as easy as 1-2-3, dear Boston.  The Red Sox will lose Xander Bogaerts this off-season and JD Martinez is going to be coming off the books as well.  Boston can offer up Mayer, Casas, Downs, Bello, Seabold, etc…  They got the depth of players and a history of doing deals like this (Chris Sale).  If Boston reads the room too they can quickly realize that scooping a pitcher from the Angels at the same time now for an extra prospect helps them tremendously right away.

And uh, yeah, Trout would fit in just fine in the AL East and playing center field in Fenway Park.

Sadly, this one probably waits until the hot stove as well, but it would be an awesome plot twist.

Where will Frankie Montas and Luis Castillo wind up?

Montas will be a Cardinal

Castillo will be a Yankee

What young team is going to go off in the second half/September out of nowhere?

Well Adalberto Mondesi is injured and out for the year, so we won’t have Mondesi September again to jack up his fantasy value.  The Miami Marlins are probably already too good to really fit into the mold of the September team to win 20 games out of nowhere.

So…. Why not….

The Pirates

It has to be the Pirates.  Right?

So yeah.

We’re gonna be stacking … The Pirates

Pirates Of The Caribbean GIFs | Tenor

srenner

Founder and CEO for The Daily Ambush. Author or The Dongers Club (MLB), The Ambush (NFL), The Slapshot (NHL) and The Tailgate (CFB).