NL East on par with AL East

Written by Colin on June 19, 2010 – 8:46 am

In the last two weeks, the Atlanta Braves have played the Tampa Bay Rays, the Philadelphia Phillies have played the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Now the Florida Marlins are playing the Rays and the New York Mets are taking on the Yankees now that they’ve demolished the pitiful Baltimore Orioles. The record so far? The NL East has won 12 games, the AL East had won 5.

The NL East is good this year. Yes, our Bravos are good (and we’re damn good). We’re 29-0 when we score 5 runs or more, and we have the best home record in baseball. But it’s not a one-team division. The Phillies are starting to bat again and have started winning a few games. And though the Mets have been beating up on last place teams like the Orioles and Indians, they’ve won 8 straight. The Marlins and Nationals have shown flashes of brilliance but are riding some younger teams that aren’t developed to the point they need to be at to compete in the NL East.

The AL East is good too. Obviously you have the defending World Champ Yankees. I will point out their pitching staff has been improved by an NL East castoff (Vazquez). The Rays are just playing great baseball in almost every aspect of the game, and then you’ve got the Red Sox hanging just one game back. Even the Blue Jays have surprised and are playing six games above .500. The Orioles don’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as the word “good,” but I just screwed that up, didn’t I?

Bottom line is the NL East is comparable to the AL East. Even if you throw out the Orioles series (as might be fair), we’ve won 9 of 14. But we won’t throw series out. After all, the Yankees and Rays have played the O’s and those wins count towards their .612 win percentage. We’ve won 12 out of 17 games.

I’m going to go out on a limb (a very strong limb) and predict an NL East vs. AL East World Series. With a National League Champion.

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Rays Series Preview: Something’s Gotta Give

Written by Colin on June 15, 2010 – 2:31 pm

The AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays come to town today for a three game series. In an interesting matchup, the Braves – with an MLB best 19-6 home record – face three games from the team with the MLB’s best road record (the Rays are 22-8 away from home).

The first game features Kenshin Kawakami against David Price, the first overall draft pick in 2007. Kawakami is coming off his best outing of the year – allowing just four hits in six scoreless innings. Despite that, he’s still winless, and is pitching better than his 4.48 ERA indicates of late. Price is damn good. He’s 9-2 with a 2.23 ERA. We’ll have a tough time giving Kawakami the run support he needs (and deserves) against Price.

The second game features two youngsters. Tommy Hanson (6-3, 3.69) goes against Wade Davis (5-6, 4.91). Tommy has struggled with his control a bit recently, even though in his last four games he’s struck out 22 in 24 innings and featured a 2.63 ERA. Hopefully Tommy’s control issues are behind him. Wade has struggled a bit of late as well but recovered in his last outing. He’s got a mid-90s fastball and a nice curve. His slider and changeup aren’t quite as developed but you’ll see them as well.

The final game features James Shields of the Rays (5-5, 4.55) against most likely Tim Hudson. Huddy hasn’t officially been announced as the probable starter, but it should be his turn. Shields is coming off a rough start – allowing 10 runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Marlins. Hopefully we can take him for a similar ride.

Something’s gotta give – the Braves should win at home and the Rays should live on the road. I like our odds – at least in the last two games of the series – and their offense is going to be hobbled slightly because their pitchers will have to hit. We’ll see if we can prevail over one of the hottest teams in the American league.

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