At the halfway point of the season, we take another look at the Evil Empire and a Texas team who’s threatening their in-state rival.
New York Yankees (52-28, 1st Place AL East, +7 Game Lead)
Since I dreadfully wrote about the Yankees just last week, they have not cooled down at all. They made the Houston Astros look like a high school JV team, and all their pieces are coming together as if they weren’t already. With Didi Gregorius back in the lineup with Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge returned last Friday against the Astros. These are three guys that are all middle-lineup players that the Yanks have managed to keep 1st place without. All with highly anticipated debuts, the Yankees are 13-6 since Gregorius was entered back into the lineup on June 7th. This week the Yanks took on the Blue Jays at home for a three-game duel before New York heads across the pond to play the Red Sox in London over the weekend.
CC Sabathia was on the hill for the first game, and it was practically a Yankees highlight reel until the 8th innings. Stanton hit his first home run of the season on Monday, which came on a three-run shot on the 6th inning to put the game away. The Jays actually put in some effort late in the game, scoring five in the top of the 8th and one in the top of the 9th. But they fell short 10-8 on a solid 6 IP, 9 K game from Sabathia.
Probable All-Star DJ LeMahieu led off Tuesday’s game with a homer, giving the Yankees the MLB record for most consecutive games with a homer at 28 straight. As if that wasn’t enough, Aaron Judge poked one the other way for a solo shot making it back-to-back homers to start the bottom of the 1st. It was a bullpen game for the Yanks as opener Chad Green was slated as the starting pitcher in the matchup. Toronto scored a run in the top of the 9th, but again they fell short 4-3 in Aroldis Chapman’s 23rd save of the season. More notably, it was reported that Giancarlo Stanton will miss all of July and possibly more with an injury he sustained on an awkward slide into 3rd base during Tuesday’s game. Obviously, this is not good news for Yankee fans, but they’ve been able to succeed without him to a great extent.
James Paxton did not look like the $8.7 million man that he is apparently worth on Wednesday’s matinee, giving up six earned in four innings. However, the Yanks overcame the 5-0 lead and tied it up in the bottom of the 4th. It was back and forth throughout the game, but in the top of the 9th the Jays tied it up on a Cavan Biggio RBI single. As if that mattered, however, because the Yankees won it in the bottom of the 9th on a Gleyber Torres bloop-single that brought in Didi Gregorius.
The Yankees landed in London on Thursday morning to face the Red Sox in a two-game series in London. I’m incredibly excited for this series for a couple reasons. 1: It’s Red Sox vs. Yankees and the Sox can make some ground. 2: Apparently center field in the stadium is 385 feet deep, so we may be seeing balls fly out of the park.
Texas Rangers (45-36, 2nd Place AL West, 4.5 Games Back)
The Texas Rangers have been a pleasant surprise this year. Though many would’ve though guys like Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo would be leading the team, it’s actually the older guys. Hunter Pence and Mike Minor have been having outstanding seasons. Hunter Pence, although he’s currently on the IL, is hitting .294 with 15 bombs and 48 RBI in the DH slot. I would say the Rangers should trade him to a contender at the deadline, but they’re making a legitimate case for them not only to make the playoffs, but to win the AL West. Mike Minor has also been having an incredible season, accounting for an 8-4 record with a 2.40 ERA and 110 strikeouts over 112 innings.
The Rangers took to Detroit on Tuesday for a three-game series against the Tigers. Jesse Chavez turned in a great outing, pitching into the 7th inning striking out seven and allowing zero runs. Chavez was complimented by the Rangers bats, who scored five runs in the game one victory over Detroit. Everyone in the Rangers lineup got a hit, as Texas took game one 5-3. Game two was about as easy as it gets for the Rangers. Mike Minor tossed a complete game to help give the Rangers the win. Willie Calhoun, Jeff Mathis, and Danny Santana all ripped a solo homer each in Wednesday’s 4-1 victory over the Tigers. Thursday afternoon’s game was just about the same. Joey Gallo hit two home runs on the afternoon, and yet another Rangers pitcher played well, this time it being 23-year-old Ariel Jurado. He pitched seven scoreless frames and the Rangers completed the sweep with a 3-1 win.
The Tigers have lost seven in a row and fall to 26-50 on the season. The Rangers improved to 45-36 and are just 4.5 games back from the Astros for 1st place in the AL West. The Rangers will continue their road trip and stop in the popular baseball city of Tampa Bay for a three-game series against the Rays. Lance Lynn is slated as the starter for Friday’s matchup.
Waiver Wire Targets
Make sure you check out Monday’s waiver wire targets and snag those players before they get taken in your leagues.
James McCann (27.6% owned/ESPN)
Even though the new All-Star voting format is insanely corrupt, James McCann actually deserves it. McCann is on-pace to break his career highs in hits, home runs, and RBI’s. He’s hitting .333 on the season with eight dingers and 25 RBI’s. He’s slashing .328/.387/.520 which is good for an OPS of over .900. With a lack of many offensively talented catchers in the league today, McCann could be a solid pickup for your squad.
Jordan Yamamoto (53.3% owned/ESPN)
Well, Yamamoto has certainly provided a bright spot on a dark and shady Marlins team. The 23-year-old Hawaii native made his MLB debut on June 12th and has started three games. He has gone seven innings deep in two of those starts while allowing zero runs. Over his three starts he has 19 IP/19 K/2 ER. The Marlins are also 3-0 in his starts, which makes him two wins away from being tied for the most on the team as a starting pitcher this season even though his first start was just over two weeks ago. Definitely keep an eye on Yamamoto because if he keeps this up, he may start turning heads all around baseball. He already turned my head when I tried to say his name five times fast.
Retired Little League baseball utility player.