The Call to the Pen: June 20th, 2016

Welcome back to The Call to the Pen! The Phillies are ice cold while the league’s best are red hot. Let’s get to the Power Rankings…

Power Rankings

The Bottom:

30) Minnesota Twins (21-48): Down 1
29) Atlanta Braves (23-46): Up 1
28) Cincinnati Reds (27-43): Even
27) Oakland Athletics (28-41): Down 1

26) Philadelphia Phillies (30-40): Down 2
25) San Diego Padres (29-42): Up 1   

24) Milwaukee Brewers (31-39): Down 2
23) LA Angels of Anaheim (31-38): Up 2 
22) Arizona Diamondbacks (32-39): Up 1  
21) Tampa Bay Rays (31-36): Down 1 

The week actually started fairly well for the Rays winning two from the recently-struggling Mariners. TB dropped the series finale and was then swept by the Giants over the weekend. The Braves aren’t last this week! Atlanta is riding a 5-game winning streak after sweeping the Mets this weekend. Congratulations are also in order for Freddy Freeman becoming the first player in 2016 to hit for the cycle! I’ll get to the Phillies below but a 1-6 week and seemingly every opposing player blasting home runs in your own ballpark never bodes well for your place in the rankings. One such team, the D-Backs, showed off their offensive potential in their series in Philadelphia (which finishes up today at 1 at CBP) and is inching closer to an even run differential.

The Middle:

20) Colorado Rockies (30-33): Down 1
19) Houston Astros (30-35): Up 2
18) Pittsburgh Pirates (32-31): Down 3 
17) New York Yankees (31-32): Even  
16) Detroit Tigers (32-30): Down 3 
15) Chicago White Sox (31-32): Up 3
14) New York Mets (34-28): Down 5
13) St. Louis Cardinals (35-28): Down 5
12) Miami Marlins (32-31): Up 4
11) Seattle Mariners (34-29): Down 1   

The Cardinals and Mets are both struggling greatly at the moment; the Mets were swept by the Braves last weekend and the Cards put up an 0 for 5 effort this week against the Astros and Rangers. So why wouldn’t they drop further? Well for starters, the other teams in The Middle didn’t have stellar weeks aside from the Marlins and Astros but their opponents last week weren’t the best the league has to offer (aside from the Cardinals). St. Louis, New York, and also struggling Mariners have RDs, with the Cardinals scoring the third-most runs in the league. The Pirates continue to skid as they lost two of three to the Mets and then were swept out of Wrigley Field; they’re schedule gets harder before it gets easier as the Giants come into Pittsburgh this week. Weird Baseball Scheduling: I wanted to make sure to include this: the Pirates played Thursday night in New York and then had a 12:30 day game the next day in Chicago as they were blanked by Jake Arrieta.

The Top:

10) LA Dodgers (33-31): Up 2
9) Toronto Blue Jays (35-30): Up 2
8) Kansas City Royals (32-30): Up 6
7) Cleveland Indians (35-27): Down 1
6) Boston Red Sox (36-26): Down 1 
5) Baltimore Orioles (36-26): Up 2

4) Washington Nationals (39-24): Down 1 
3) Texas Rangers (39-24): Down 1 
2) San Francisco Giants (38-26): Up 2
1) Chicago Cubs (43-18): Even

Every team in The Top are red hot. The Giants, Rangers, and Cubs all seem untouchable after last weekend. Texas’ pitching staff is 4th in the Bigs in Quality Starts and they’re still waiting for Yu Darvish to return. Ian Desmond is proving his shift to the outfield was the right decision as he continues to tear it up for the Rangers. They’ll have another tough series this week against the Orioles. Baltimore took two of three from both the Blue Jays and Red Sox. A top-10 offense continues to carry a middle of the pack pitching staff for the Orioles so this series in Arlington could be a slugfest. The only knock you can give the Cubs at this point was their series loss in Washington last week but one those games went to 12 innings. The Cubbies still are blowing out the field in run differential and their pitching staff makes most hitters look like little leaguers. Chicago plays arch-rival St. Louis this week before hitting the road for 11 games.

All Star Votes:

American League:
1st Basemen: Eric Hosmer (KC)
2nd Basemen: Robinson Cano (SEA)
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts (BOS)
3rd Basemen: Manny Muchado (BAL)
Catcher: Salvador Perez (KC)
DH: David Ortiz (BOS)
Outfielders: Mark Trumbo (BAL), Mike Trout (LAA), Ian Desmond (TEX)

National League:
1st Basemen: Anthony Rizzo (CHC)
2nd Basemen: Daniel Murphy (WSH)
Shortstop: Corey Seager (LAD)
3rd Basemen: Nolan Arenado (COL)
Catcher: Yadier Molina (STL)
Outfielders: Carlos Gonzalez (COL), Starling Mart (PIT), Hunter Prince (SF) (Runner Up: Marcell Ozuna (MIA)

Phillies Update:

Well, if there was ever a time to “buy-low,” the time is now. The Phils rank at the bottom of nearly every team offensive stat and the pitching staff is starting to fall into the bottom half of the league. The one stat that is positive for the starting pitchers is that they are 11th in Quality Starts with 35 but the bullpen is falling back to Earth. The Phils have scored more than five runs in only five of their 18 games in June thus far. Unfortunately to say, the rest of the season will be a lot more of what we’ve been seeing in June. Sure, the Phillies will be playing other bad teams in the NL; but they still will be playing the better teams at least once (St. Louis), if not twice in their remaining schedule (San Francisco, Pittsburgh, LA) and they’ll have the Marlins, Nationals, and Mets for multiple meetings. Further, if they can’t get the bats going against the bad teams, their opponents more superior offenses will probably get to the pitching and put the Phils into holes that’ll be too deep to dig out of. Vince Velasquez could potentially go on a rehab assignment soon so that’ll at least improve the rotation when he does return. Now that it’s late-June, Trade speculation will continue to rise as the Phils will be expected “sellers.” It’s tough to say who will be sent off considering A) the youth of the team, which adds on to B) what you can get in return. It may honestly be better for the Phils to sit back and make more minor, if any, trades. Regardless of the team’s performance, I’m still looking forward to going to many a game at Citizen’s Bank Park this summer.

Disagree with the Rankings? How about my All Star votes? Let me know in the comments

(cover photo via)

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