The Call to the Pen: July 18th, 2016

Welcome back to The Call to the Pen! A short week in the majors with every team playing a single series this past weekend. The All-Star Break once again did not disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed both the Derby and the game itself. It seems the Rob Manfred has figured out how to put a mass appeal on the event again rather than being a couple of days that just baseball fans wait for. The Derby is very quick now because of the clock which is what Manfred’s regime has been striving for. I’m still not a fan of the game itself deciding home field in the World Series, especially when the All-Star Break has always been about fun. But for now, the upward trend is something to be happy about. Let’s get to the Power Rankings…

Power Rankings

The Bottom:

30) Atlanta Braves (32-60): Even
29) Cincinnati Reds (34-58): Even
28) Minnesota Twins (33-58): Even 
27) Tampa Bay Rays (35-56): Even 

26) Arizona Diamondbacks (40-53): Even
25) Milwaukee Brewers (39-51): Down 1
24) Oakland Athletics (40-52): Down 1

23) LA Angels of Anaheim (40-52): Up 2

22) Colorado Rockies (42-49): Down 1
21) Philadelphia Phillies (42-48): Down 1

Spoiler Alert: Because we’re only looking at one series this week, there won’t be too much movement. The teams that have moved downward this week did so because the teams that moved up (the Angels and the into-The-Middle Padres) swept their respective opponents. In the Padres case, they swept the Giants. From hosting the All-Star Game on Tuesday to a weekend sweep of San Francisco, this was the high point for the 2016 Padres–including the Balkoff.

The Middle:

20) San Diego Padres (41-51): Up 2 
19) Chicago White Sox (45-46): Down 2 
18) New York Yankees (45-46): Even  
17) Kansas City Royals (46-46): Up 2
16) Seattle Mariners (46-46): Down 1 
15) Detroit Tigers (48-44): Up 1
14) Pittsburgh Pirates (47-45): Even
13) St. Louis Cardinals (47-44): Down 2 
12) New York Mets (49-42): Even
11) Miami Marlins (49-42): Up 2

Flip-flopped the Marlins and Cardinals after the Marlins took two-out-of-three from the Cards in St. Louis. The Marlins edge out the Mets due to St Louis being a tougher opponent than the Phillies (from whom the Mets took two-of-three from). The Pirates avoided being swept out of Washington after an 18-inning affair yesterday. It’s interesting to see where these teams are starting to go with only two weeks until the trade deadline. A team like the Yankees could get hot and make a run at the Wild Card but they also have a few strong bullpen pieces that they could trade away to reload for another year. Teams in the Top are seeming to need additions to the bullpen the most (the Cubs are the prime suspect here) so NYY GM Brain Cashman could be putting together a trade as we speak.

The Top:

10) Houston Astros (50-42): Even
9) LA Dodgers (52-42): Even 
8) Toronto Blue Jays (52-42): Down 1
7) Baltimore Orioles (53-37): Up 1
6) Boston Red Sox (51-39): Up 2
5) Cleveland Indians (54-37): Even  

4) Texas Rangers (55-38): Even
3) Washington Nationals (56-37): Even
2) San Francisco Giants (57-36): Down 1
1) Chicago Cubs (55-36): Up 1 

Like I said last week, the Giants reign wouldn’t be long. The Cubs returned from the break against one of the AL’s best in a possible World Series preview. The Rangers avoided the sweep with a win yesterday but the Cubbies are starting to return to form. Chicago absolutely needs an arm on the back-end of the bullpen but other than that, Joe Maddon’s squad is rolling. Despite being swept by the Padres, the Giants are still the Cubs’ main competition, although the Nats are close, both in record and roster. Washington will need to do more at the deadline than San Fran in my opinion, they’ll need a bullpen arm and maybe another bat. The Red Sox are also trending upward but they need another starter. This week will be the true litmus test to show who is buying and selling and what position markets will develop.

Phillies Update:

“Well at least they didn’t get swept” is an easy thing to say about this past weekend’s series against the Mets but taking the results away, this was a good effort from the Phils. Friday was actually a great rebound in the second-half of the game from the Phillies after Bartolo Colon started the game 13-up, 13-down. Jeremy Hellickson is a player whose name will be thrown around in the next two weeks as a possible trade candidate as the starting pitching market isn’t too deep. As I’ve been typing this, I got an alert from the Bleacher Report showing he’s on the Marlin’s radar. Hellickson pitched well Friday but the Mets’ lineup is full of tough-outs. Saturday was another great claw-back win by the Phils while Sunday’s loss to Jacob deGrom was expected. The one-hitter may not have been, but a shutout doesn’t sound too surprising. The Phils begin a four-game series against the Marlins tonight and then travel across Pennsylvania to face the Pirates for the first time in 2016.

Disagree with the Rankings? Let me know in the comments

(cover photo via)

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