Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Boomer's Diamond Notes: What to Expect in May

Early favorite to win NL MVP, Matt Kemp
Early favorite to win AL Cy Young Award, Yu Darvish

The first month of the 2012 MLB season is over, and as we jump into the best month of the year (May!), I offer up some early predictions and what to expect this first week in May. As you can see pictured above, Matt Kemp, CF, for the Los Angeles Dodgers is off to a hot-start already (.417 BA, 12 HR's and 25 RBI's), making him the front-runner so far for this years NL MVP award, which was stolen away from him last year by Brewers slugger Ryan Braun. If he can keep up this pace, which will be tough to do, and the Dodgers keep winning (currently leading the NL West by 3.5 games) Kemp won't have to worry about anyone stealing the award away from him this year. In the AL, the Texas Rangers newly acquired starting pitching from Japan, Yu Darvish is off to a 4-0 start with a 2.18 ERA and 33 K's. The Rangers are also scoring runs for him in bunches during his 5 starts (33 total runs). The question is will he be able to keep it up during the long season of the MLB and once teams have got a chance to see him more then once. Now lets turn to each division and check in on the Indians and Reds to see how they are doing.

AL East
After taking two out of three over the weekend down in Arlington vs. the Rangers, the Tampa Bay Rays are sitting on top of the AL East (15-8). Winners of 4 straight series and 8-2 in their last 10 games, the Rays are in hopes of staying on top of the division for a while. The Orioles (14-9) and New York Yankees (13-9) are in the middle of  a 3-game series in the Bronx, with the Yankees taking the first game last night, 2-1. Out of the two teams, the Yankees have the better chance of hanging with the Rays, as the Orioles always seem to fall apart at some point. The Toronto Blue Jays (12-11) and Boston Red Sox (11-11) round out the division. Don't count out the Beantown boys as they have won 7 out of their last 10 games, and look to make a surge in May. 

AL Central
A week has past and not much has changed in this division. The Cleveland Indians (11-9) are just above the Detroit Tigers (11-11) and Chicago White Sox (11-11) for first place. The Indians are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and have went without a HR in their past 11 games. The Tigers are clearly struggling (2-8 in last 10 games), and hope to find a renewed attitude with the calendar change. The White Sox are the surprise of the three as many folks had them finishing at the bottom of the division in the pre-season. How long will it take for one of these teams to breakaway from the other two. The Royals (6-15) are finishing up a road trip, in which they stand at 3-2 with two RO's. I bet they wish they never had to go home, winless so far at Royals Stadium (0-10). While the Twins (6-16) are the worst team in the ML when it comes to giving up runs (127), at this point in the season. I bet Joe Mauer wishing he never signed that long term deal.

AL West
The Texas Rangers (17-6) benefit from being in one of the worse divisions in baseball. After the first month of the season, they already have a lead of 6.5 games over the Mariners and A's, both 11-13. While the team that went out and got the best hitter in the game, Albert Pujols and a quality pitcher, C.J. Wilson continue to struggle early on (8-15). When do we stop saying its a bad start, and declare they are just not as good live as they look on paper.

winners of the past two World Series...The National League

NL East
The Nationals (14-8) have sort of returned back down to earth, although they still lead the division, the Nats are 5-5 in the last ten games and losers of 4 straight. The pitching staff is great, but this team can't score runs. They even called up 19 year-old high school dropout Bryce Harper to try and generate some runs. The Atlanta Braves (13-9) and the New York Mets (13-10) are close behind, while the Philadelphia Phillies (11-12) hang on while they wait for some big name bats to return to the lineup. The Marlins can't buy wins you have to earn them, are in last place at 8-14 losers of 8 out of 10 games.

NL Central
In the only six team division in baseball (not for very long), the defending World Series Champions, St. Louis Cardinals (14-8) still remain on top of the NL Central division. The Cincinnati Reds finished the first month at .500 (11-11) have won 7 out of 10 games and look to be another team ready to surge into the month of May. The Brewers (11-12) are right behind the top two teams, as they continue life without Prince Fielder. The Pittsburgh Pirates (10-12) can't score any runs (58), dead last in the majors, continue to get quality pitching (66 runs allowed) ranking them 3rd in the majors. The Houston Astros (9-14) and Chicago Cubs (8-15) settle in nicely to the the bottom two spots in the division as they will be there for the rest of the season.

NL West
The LA Dodgers (17-7) continue to ride the clubs hot start, but how much does Matt Kemp have to do all by himself, to keep this team on top. The SF Giants (12-10), Arizona Diamondbacks (12-11) and the Colorado Rockies (11-11) plan on competing with the Dodger, while the San Diego Padres (7-17) are already 10 games back in the lost column. "You stay classic, San Diego."

Boomer's Clubhouse Chat

Cleveland Indians 11-9
Games this week: 3 @ Chicago White Sox, 3 vs. Texas Rangers, DH vs. the White Sox (5/7)

The Tribe went 3-3 on their last home stand (losing 2 out of 3 vs. Royals; winning 2 out of 3 vs. Angels). The long ball for the Indians is non-existent as they have went homerless in their last 11 games. The solution to the problem? Calling up veteran once-a-time Caveman Johnny Damon. Damon will split time in the outfield in left with Shelley Duncan. The Indians are hoping to get a surge in the lineup with Damon, as they have failed to score 5 or more runs in the past 7 games. The Indians have also been without Shin-Soo Choo (hamstring injury) the past five games and hope he returns to the lineup tonight in Chicago.  The pitching staff has had some bright moments as well as some lows, so heres to hoping the bats start to improve to relieve the pitching staff as the season progresses. Go Tribe!

Cincinnati Reds 11-11
Games this week: 3 vs. Chicago Cubs, 3 @ Pittsburgh Pirates, 1 @ Milwaukee

The Redlegs are currently finishing up a 9-game home stand, in which they took 2 out of 3 vs. the Giants and Astros last week. At the end of April, the Reds sat at 11-11, in which they really didn't play that well of baseball in the first month. The Reds look to continue the recent success this week with three games vs. last place Cubbies and three games in Pittsburgh vs. the Pirates, a team that struggles to score runs. The Reds lineup is coming around after a slow start to the season, as they benefited from some timely hitting this past week. The Reds also received some quality pitching as they held the Giants/Astros to 2 runs or less in 3 out of 6 games. Lets go Reds!