Another week of MLB action, means another week in the early, but already interesting, 2017 Major League Baseball Season. Which teams have continued to shine? Which teams have fallen apart?
Is it too early to answer these questions? Maybe. But, it’s hard to deny that patterns have definitely emerged. Check out the week that was in MLB!
2017 MLB Week 3 Recap
** All records as of April 23
AL East: Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox Continue Dominance
Baltimore is 11-5. The Yankees are 11-7. Boston is 11-8. Tampa Bay is only 3.5 games behind the Orioles as of April 23. But, don’t you get the feeling that the O’s, Yanks, and Red Sox pull away in the division? It sure looks like that’s going to happen.
Boston appears to be the team to beat because they’re only 2 games behind and David Price hasn’t started a game. With that being written, last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello, hasn’t found a way to control his pitches like he did last season. Porcello has an above 5.00 ERA.
Price must come back at 100% for the Red Sox to keep pace with the Orioles and Yankees. The Yankees, in particular, look strong. NYY has won 7 out of their last 10. The Yankees’ starting rotation is ranked second in ERA at 3.23 and first in WHIP at 1.13. If New York can keep it up, happy times could return to Manhattan.
Baltimore, somehow, is winning baseball games. They’ve got excellent defense. That’s the only way to explain how the O’s have a 3.53 team ERA, and a 1.36 WHIP. Although guys get on base against Baltimore pitchers, the defense somehow always bails out those pitchers. Crazy.
AL Central: Cleveland Wastes No Time
The Cleveland Indians went on a mission last week. Since they enter this week at 10 and 8, tied with Detroit at the top of the AL Central, the mission must be considered a success. The Indians flipped the script on the Minnesota Twins. Cleveland beat the Twin City Baseballers 3-1, 11-4, and 6-2, in 3 straight. Then, they beat the Chicago White Sox 3-0, and 7-0, before losing to the White Sox 2 to 6 on April 23.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some chinks left in Cleveland’s armor. The team ERA is still at a high 4.19. Also, Corey Kluber’s ERA is still above 4.00 at 4.28. Kluber, though, may have gotten into a nice rhythm in his last start. Facing a tough White Sox squad, Kluber was brilliant. He pitched 9 innings, gave up 0 runs, only allowed 3 hits, and struck out 9.
If Kluber has found a rhythm, the onus is going to be on Detroit to keep pace. After a fantastic first 2 starts of the season, Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander has sort of fallen apart. Verlander has pitched 9 total innings in his last 2 starts against rivals Cleveland and Minnesota. He’s allowed 13 earned runs off 14 total hits. He’s only struck out 8 while he’s walked 7.
Detroit has no shot if Verlander doesn’t get it together. Michael Fulmer is a good pitcher. But, they need Verlander to at least give some support to keep up with Cleveland. There’s no way Fulmer can do it on his own.
AL West: Division Sorts Itself Out
The AL West finally sorted itself out this past week…maybe…just a bit? Houston appears dead set on winning the division. The Astros are in the division lead at 13-6. That’s great, but Oakland at 10-9, and the Texas Rangers at 9-10, are only 3 and 4 games behind the Stros.
The L.A. Angels and Seattle Mariners, both at 8-12, are only 5.5 games behind. Houston has looked best, but it’s a long season. We’ll see if the Astros maintain the 3 game lead this week.
** All records as of April 24
NL East: Nationals Trying to Solidify Their Position
As we look at the 2017 MLB Week 3 recap we note the Washington Nationals are the team to beat in the NL East. I feel comfortable writing that because Washington’s top offensive player, Bryce Harper, has been unreal so far this season. Harper is batting .400. He has 7 home runs. A lot of Harper’s success is due to Ryan Zimmerman batting .387 and Daniel Murphy batting .324. Harper always bats 3rd in the line-up. But, Washington manager Dusty Baker isn’t afraid to switch it up with his 4 and 5. Sometimes, Zimmerman’s at 4. Sometimes, Murphy is at 4.
To Harper, it doesn’t matter. As long as both Zimmerman and Murphy are hitting above .300, pitchers can’t walk Bryce. They must pitch to him.
Miami, the Phillies, the Mets, and the Braves, are all within 3 to 7 games behind Washington. All of those squads must pick it up. I can see a situation where the Nationals get a huge lead in the division before the all-star break. That could be disaster for the Marlins, Philadelphia, the New York Mets, and Atlanta.
NL Central: Like Cleveland in the AL, Cubs Take Charge
Like Cleveland in the AL Central, the Cubs have suddenly turned into a powerhouse team in the NL Central. Chicago now leads the NL Central Division with a 10-8 record. Okay. They are tied with Cincinnati for the top record in the division.
Are there any doubts that Chicago should take charge from here on out and win the NL Central? Actually, yes, there are doubts. Although Chicago has won 4 out their last 5, the scores indicate that the Cubbies’ rotation hasn’t come together just yet. Beating Milwaukee 9-7 and 7-4, and beating Cincinnati 6-5 and 12-8, is nice from an offensive point-of-view.
But, as every hardcore baseball fan knows, to win a division you need excellent pitching. There’s no way for you to outscore enough opponents to take home a division crown. Forget about the playoffs without a solid rotation. Chicago pitchers only has 6 quality starts on the year. That ranks 26th in MLB.
NL West: San Francisco’s Season Could be Over
Who says that early season baseball doesn’t matter? As of April 23, the San Francisco Giants are 7 games behind the Colorado Rockies in the NL West. It could be much worse soon. The reason is because the Giants’ ace, Madison Bumgarner, the Great MadBum, is out for 6 to 8 weeks.
Bumgarner is out due to bruised ribs and a left AC sprain. What’s so ridiculous about Bumgarner’s injuries is that he was riding a dirt bike, crashed, and got injured. A workplace incident didn’t cause his injuries.
Without Bumgarner, the Giants could be toast. The G-Men only average 3.63 runs per game while their pitchers allow 4.70 per. Although the bullpen is decent, it’s yielded 1 home run this season and has struck out 47 batters to only 20 walks, the starters, now led by Johnny Cueto, haven’t performed. I’m ready to put a fork into the Giants.
Colorado might be for real. The Rockies are at 13-6. They’re ahead of Arizona by 1.5 games. The Dodgers are under .500 at 9-10 while San Diego is at 8-12. The reason to be bullish on Colorado is due to their bullpen. It’s currently ranked 5th in MLB. The bullpen is 5-0. It has a 2.76 ERA and allows a .210 batting average.
We must remember that Colorado’s bullpen plays in every park, including Coors Field, which is considered a hitter’s paradise. For the Rockies bullpen to excel the way it has while throwing at Coors Field is remarkable.