Another two weeks in the 2016 MLB season have come and gone. The term that could be best used to describe the last two weeks in baseball is “flip the script”.
The Minnesota Twins, who have been the biggest disappointment in baseball in 2016, have been playing their best baseball of the season as we enter the All-Star break. The Twins are 9-5 in their last 14 games, including 7-2 in their last nine. They made some lineup adjustments to get to this point. Miguel Sano who began the season out in right field, spent some time on the DL with a hamstring injury. Since his return, he has been moved back to his natural position third base, and it has worked out like a charm. Sano looks so comfortable back at his natural position and is seeing the ball very well. Byung Ho-Park, the Twins big off season signing, struggled the first half of the season, so to help settle him down, was option to Triple A and the powerful switch hitting Kennys Vargas was called up to take his place. Vargas has been splitting time between DH and first base with Joe Mauer, which has worked out well. Max Kepler, the talented German kid, has been called up, and is playing well full time in right field. The Twins are not as bad of a team as their first half record shows. I think, and so do a lot of people, now that they figured some things out, they will play much better in the second half than they did in the first, as in perhaps .500 baseball the rest of the way.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are playing some great baseball without star ace Clayton Kershaw. Over their last 14, the Dodgers are 10-4, and their pitching has been just phenomenal during this stretch. During this 14 game stretch, the Dodgers have allow just 51 runs in that 14 game stretch. Also during this 14 game stretch, on five occasions the Dodgers have allowed just one run or less. Also playing better are the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates were drowning there for quite a while, but have gotten really hot the last several weeks. The Pirates are 12-4 in their last 16 games, and in the process, have chopped the Chicago Cubs lead in the NL Central in half, down to just 7.5 games.
Speaking of those Chicago Cubs, they are the coldest team in baseball at the moment, minus the Tampa Bay Rays who are a whole other conversation for a whole different day. The Cubs are just a woeful 6-15 in their last 21 games. The potential trip-up for the Cubs this season has reared it's ugly head in a major way- the bullpen. Nobody down there is pitching good right now, and they still don't have a closer. Look for them to trade for one as we move towards the trade deadline. Also getting the script flipped on them are the Texas Rangers. The Rangers are just 3-9 in their last 12 games. Of those 12 games, they have played seven against the Twins, and are just 2-5 in those 7 games. You have got to do better than that against the teams at the bottom of the divisions.