How was your week

Posted: August 12, 2017 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, sports, Sports Time Radio, Uncategorized

As we enter the dog days of August there are still three division races up for grabs and of course those four wild card spots are making things very interesting. At this time of the baseball season one good hot streak can get you back in the playoff hunt and there are a couple of teams that have used hot streaks to get back into contention.

The Baltimore Orioles recently went on a streak where they won eight out of ten games and out themselves back into the conversation for a wild card spot. Remember the Orioles took a lot of heat for being buyers at the non-waive trade deadline instead of sellers. Now a west coast trip has kind of slowed the Orioles momentum down, but they are still just two games out of a wild card spot.

Then there’s a team like the Minnesota Twins who actually did trade a starting pitcher and their closer at the non-waiver traded deadline. The Twins now find themselves with the longest active winning streak in the American League at six games and have came back to grab the second wild card spot. You have to wonder if they regret dealing those pitchers now.

The hottest team in baseball right now is the St. Louis Cardinals who have won seven straight games and not only got themselves back into the race for a wild card spot, but have mixed into 2nd place in the National League Central and are just one game behind the division leading Chicago Cubs.

Staying in the National League Central the Pittsburgh Pirates have won seven of their last ten games and have jumped back into the conversation of being a playoff team. Pittsburgh just like St. Louis finds themselves closer to the top of their division (3 1/2 games) than they do in the wild card race where they’re 6 1/2 games out of a wild card spot.

A hot streak at the right time can also help a division leader get a little breathing room at the top. The Boston Red Sox eight game winning streak just came to an end last night, but that streak helped the Red Sox to a 3 1/2 game lead in the American League East.

The Cleveland Indians used a none game winning streak at the end of July to try and separate themselves at the top of the American League Central. Cleveland has played a little under .500 baseball since the winning streak ended, but they currently have a 3 1/2 game lead in their division.

Of course on the flip side of this a badly time losing streak or just playing .500 baseball at the wrong time can cost you games in the standings and a playoff berth.

The Kansas City Royals had a nine game winning streak towards the end of July that them right back into the division race and a wild card spot. Now the Royals have lost five games in a row and seven of their last eight games. The losing streak has dropped the Royals to 3rd in their division and while they’re just 1 1/2 games out of a wild card spot there are three teams ahead of them in the wild card race.

Then there’s the case of the Milwaukee Brewers who where probably the best story from the first half of the season. Milwaukee is 9-18 since the All-Star break and are currently on a six game losing streak. After leading the National League Central for most of not all of the first half of the season Milwaukee is now tired for 3rd place with Pittsburgh and are three games out of 1st place.

Now if you’re going to make the playoffs out of the National League Central you’re going to half to win the division because there’s virtually no chance that a wild card team will come from that division.

Of course the amazing thing about baseball is the fact that any team on a losing streak can quickly turn things around and go on a long winning streak. Just look at the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox are tied with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the second longest winning streak in the American League at four games. Interestingly the first three wins in the White Sox current four game winning streak came against the team with the best record in the American League the Houston Astros.

While the Chicago Cubs showed some power last night hitting a couple of home runs and getting a 8-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks you have to wonder if they suffered an injury this week that will be difficult for them to over come.

Before Friday’s win over the Diamondbacks they placed their starting catcher Willson Contreras on the disabled list. It appears as though Contreras will miss four to six weeks with a right hamstring strain. Contreras had been the best player on the Cubs this season and joined the conversation as one of the best two-way catchers in baseball as well as an M.V.P. candidate.

The question now is can or how will the Cubs replace Contreras? Now the Cubs did go out and acquired Alex Avila at the non-waiver trade deadline from the Detroit Tigers and you have to think that he’ll handle the bulk of the catching duties. Avila has played in just five games for the Cubs and is hitting .182 with two home runs and four RBI’s. Victor Caratini was brought back from Triple-A to catch some games as well, but he struggled in limited playing time the last time he was up. Caratini played just eleven games the last time he was brought up. He hit .192 with just one home run and two RBI’s. Caratini has shown he can hit at Triple-A. He was hitting .344 for the Iowa Cubs and you have to wonder if he’s given some regular playing time if he’ll hit at the major league level. Now there is an interesting option for the Cubs, but there’s just no way Kyle Schwarber can catch on an everyday basis. Schwarber caught in college and did a little bit of catching coming through the Cubs minor league system and with the Cubs as well. Maybe Schwarber could be use to spell Avila who has had some injury issues the last couple of seasons. Avila played just 57 games last season and 67 games in 2015 due to injuries and you have to wonder if he can handle being the everyday catcher.

Now besides Contreras’ hitting the Cubs will have to hope that one of there catchers will be able to step up and replace him o the defensive side. Contreras has thrown out 28% of runners those season and this is while handling a itching staff that has Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta on it. Those are two of the easier pitchers n baseball to steal on.  There where four successful stolen base attempts with no one being thrown against Caratini during his first call up. Avila hasn’t thrown out anyone out in the three attempts against him since joining the Cubs, but he was throwing out 33% of runners trying to steal when he was with the Detroit Tigers.

I think that this was the worst injury that the Cubs could’ve had and they way they replace Contreras will be the deciding factor on if they win the National League Central and go to the playoffs or if they’re at home watching another team win the World Series this season.

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