Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Late Season Surges

The national stories of the past week had been the Rays' swoon and Yanks sinking back to fourth in the East, but the flip side of those stories was that it was the Jays, sweping the Rays, and surging past the Yanks into third place in the Wild Card race. Toronto's 10-game winning streak is the longest current one in the majors.

That rank is a bit deceptive because they're still seven games back of that Wild Card, trailing both Boston and Minnesota, but their recent run has been cause enough for Boston headlines like this.

They're doing it with their bullpen (4 out of those 10 wins) which remains fresh and effective because they get to rest every fifth day when Roy Halladay takes the mound (league leader in IP, CGs), spot starters you've never heard of and a little of the Cito Gaston magic.

As much as they're not in the playoff conversation just yet, they're on the cusp, and they play Boston 10 more times, so at least they control their own destiny.

The Jays' late-closing counterparts in the NL perhaps make a better case to be included in the playoff talks.

Houston is 9-1 in their last 10 and owns the best second half record at 34-16. They are only four games back of the Wild Card, though this too is slightly deceptive as they still have 3 teams to leapfrog in St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.

They first got hot in early August as Carlos Lee went on an RBI tear before breaking his hand and wrist. Without missing a beat Ty Wigginton stepped in led the majors in HRs and Slugging for the month. Then he went down with a groin pull and the 'Stros have won three in a row since. Roy Oswalt is 8-1 since the break and Ed Wade's mid-season pickups Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins have a combined 2.95 ERA since joining the team. Wolf has gone 4-1 as a starter and Hawkins has become the primary set-up man (9 holds).

They control their destiny a bit less that the Jays because they don't play any of the teams ahead of them in the standings, but instead, they might have something better going for them: an easy schedule. They see the Pirates twice and play series each against Cincy and Atlanta. Their only tough matchup, the slumping Cubs, they get at home.

To reiterate, we're not trumpeting either of these teams as playoff-bound. We're just pointing out that they're creeping in that direction. Think of them as the Rockies and Phillies of last season.

Some 2nd half statistical leaders:
AL HRs, RBIs: Miguel Cabrera
AL OPS: Melvin Mora
AL Wins, ERA: Cliff Lee
NL HRs, RBIs: Carlos Delgado
NL OPS: Manny Ramirez
NL Wins, ERA: CC Sabathia

-Agent Easy

1 comment:

  1. 2nd half stats (in addition to the article) were illuminating. Didn't realize Manny and Cabrera were that hot.

    the jays are also illuminating fans' hearts everywhere.