If you’ve been locked in on the NBA playoffs like most of the world has been, there was quite a bit you’ve missed in the MLB. With the Memorial Day checkpoint in the rearview mirror, we’ve had our fair share of surprises (both good and bad) to start off the season. Here’s what has stood out so far.
The Braves are ahead of schedule
People didn’t have very much expectation for Atlanta this year. The Braves organization is the top ranked minor league system entering this season, so it was assumed that this team is still in its rebuild phase. However, the mix of young talent led by second baseman Ozzie Albies (pictured above) and seasoned veterans have surprisingly put the Braves in National League East and Wild Card contention.
Atlanta has been one of the best hitting teams in baseball so far this season. They have also pitched very well behind their second and third starters, Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb. The Braves have been very fun to watch, but can they hold off the Nationals all summer?
No Cano, No Problem for Seattle
Here’s something that even I didn’t see coming. The Mariners lost star second baseman Robinson Cano on May 16 to not only a hand injury but also an 80-game suspension for violating the leagues drug policy. Surprisingly since then, the Mariners have been on a roll behind their starting rotation.
Like Atlanta, Seattle has a daunting task of holding off a World Series contender in their own division, the defending champion Houston Astros. Not only do the Mariners have the Astros to deal with, they also have a very solid Angels team lurking in the American League West. It’s still early, but this Mariners team is showing potential to be the one to end the longest playoff drought in the four major sports.
The Dodgers stumble out of the block… and get injured
Anything and everything that could go wrong for the defending National League champion Dodgers has gone wrong so far. This team just cannot seem to stay healthy. The team started off the season without third baseman Justin Turner due to a wrist injury he suffered in spring training. Then they lost up and coming shortstop Corey Seager for the year with an elbow (UCL sprain) injury.
Now they’re dealing with the uncertain health of ace Clayton Kershaw (pictured right). A back injury may keep Kershaw off the mound until early July. With the Rockies and Diamondbacks battling atop the division, the Dodgers hope that they can get healthy before either team runs away with the division.
Another Rough Year for the “Comedy Central”
For years the American League Central has been the division where only the division winner makes the playoffs. So far this year, there’s only one team over .500 in the division: the prohibitive favorite Cleveland Indians.
What’s shocking about this is that the Indians have not managed to pull away from the other teams. Their bullpen, which had been a strength of the team in previous years, has been awful. Their closer, Cody Allen, is the lone reliever with an earned run average under 4.00. Although the Indians have disappointed so far, they still have the talent to be a dangerous team if they put it all together by season’s end.