Red Sox Miss Out on Playoffs
Going into the All-Star break, the Red Sox won 5 out of their last 6 to bring them within two games of the final Wild Card spot. Riding hot into the break, the Sox have a tough schedule out the gate, having to face the Dodgers, Rays and Yankees in five of their first seven series. This will be a make or break stretch for defending champs. Even if they fare well during this stretch, they will have a tough time catching the Indians and Rays, who have the 4th and 3rd easiest remaining schedules from here on out. Cleveland and Tampa Bay have two of the best pitching staffs in the MLB and show no signs of slowing down. Boston has been the best team in the majors in scoring runs in the last two innings, which will be hard to maintain for the rest of the season. Even with their loaded lineup, the Red Sox’s pitching will ultimately hold them back from grabbing a Wild Card spot and defending their title.
Cincinnati Reds Make the Playoffs
Sitting at last in the NL Central going into the All-Star break, many have already counted the Reds out. However, there are many interesting statistics that suggest they are ready for a second half push. After a dreadful 1-8 start to the season, the Reds have gone 40-38. If they were to keep up this pace they would finish the year with 80 wins, not enough to get into the playoffs, but there is reason to believe they can improve in the second half of their season. The Reds have one of the best pitching staffs in the league, posting the 3rd best ERA in all of baseball right now (3.80). This is without Alex Wood, a 2017 All-Star, who is set to come back soon. Another important piece they are looking to get back into the lineup is Scooter Gennett. The addition of Gennett is sure to bring much needed fire power to the Reds lineup, which right now is sitting at 25th in the league in runs scored per game. The most glaring statistic is Cincinnati’s +27 run differential, the sixth best differential in the National League. Over the course of a season, run differential is one of the best indicators of who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t. Right now, the Reds seem like a longshot to be playing in October, but don’t be surprised if they slip into the last Wild Card spot by the end of the season.
Phillies have another Second Half Collapse
Going into August of last season, the Phillies held a two game lead over the Braves in the NL East. The Phillies proceeded to go 21-34 to finish the season 80-82, in one of the worst collapses in franchise history. The Phillies made big moves in the offseason to add firepower to their stagnant offense, however, the results have not been much better. Once again, the Phillies are only managing to score just over four runs per game, and their offense has shown signs of slowing down heading into the break. Their starting pitching has been very inconsistent over the course of this season and the Phillies currently rank 8th worst in the majors in runs allowed in the last four innings. Add this with the 7th hardest remaining strength of schedule in the National League, the Phillies seem poised for another disappointing second half of the season.