Now, will Shohei Ohtani get the prospect to influence October?
As Main League Baseball launches its second half Thursday evening with a Pink Sox-Yankees showdown in The Bronx, Ohtani stays the individual to observe most of all, the sport’s greatest story.
The 2-way stud, pacing the business with 33 homers whereas posting a 3.49 ERA in 13 begins on the mound, stands because the slam-dunk American League MVP for preserving his Angels (45-44) on the periphery of the playoff race, 5 ½ video games behind the Athletics for the Junior Circuit’s second wild-card spot (and 9 video games behind the Astros) within the AL West. They’re lengthy pictures, undoubtedly.
Nonetheless, if Ohtani can one way or the other duplicate his ludicrous first-half contributions; if Mike Trout can return shortly from his prolonged injured-list keep for a strained proper calf and remind people that he’s fairly good, too; if the Angels can one way or the other get higher pitching past Ohtani, what a boon for the game it could be to position such a transcendent determine of their greatest month. Monday evening’s Derby at Coors Area posted its greatest tv scores since 2017, and that was with Ohtani falling to the Nationals’ Juan Soto in a first-round thriller. Think about the worldwide viewers if Ohtani may do his factor in an important video games?
In need of that, we’ll simply need to accept seeing if Ohtani can break Roger Maris’ single-season AL dwelling run report of 61 whereas racking up, say, 150 strikeouts as a pitcher. Which might be fairly spectacular in its personal proper.
Listed below are 9 different second-half storylines that may preserve your consideration:
2. Jacob deGrom and the Mets
After blowing off the All-Star Recreation, can the game’s second-best two-way participant keep wholesome, preserve his ERA (1.08) beneath the 1968 Bob Gibson gold commonplace (1.12) and raise his OPS (.758) over .800 to develop into the primary twin MVP/Cy Younger Award winner since Clayton Kershaw in 2014? Most significant for Mets followers, can deGrom pull off an October homage to Madison Bumgarner and lead his crew to its third title?
3. The Cubs’ commerce deadline
“Life comes at you quick,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer stated final week, a tribute to his fellow Chicagoan Ferris Bueller, in addition to the bugle name to the possible finish of a Cubs period.
Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Craig Kimbrel, Joc Pederson and Anthony Rizzo all are of their stroll years. What number of will Hoyer unload by the July 30 commerce deadline? Will it matter if the Cubs, at 44-46 far out of their divisional and wild-card races, play properly out of the gate in opposition to tender opponents (the Diamondbacks and Cardinals)?
The Cubs’ latest slippage takes away a number of the luster and leverage from the extremely disappointing Twins, who can store Jose Berrios (beneath management by means of subsequent yr) in addition to impending free brokers Nelson Cruz, J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda and, in the event that they actually wished to tear issues down, Josh Donaldson and Taylor Rogers.
4. Trevor Bauer
Will he pitch once more this season? Will he ever pitch once more within the huge leagues? The highest pitcher of final winter’s free-agent market has shortly penalized the Dodgers for ignoring the myriad pink flags surrounding him and paying him $102 million. He’s presently on administrative go away as each MLB and the Pasadena, Calif., police division examine allegations that he dedicated sexual assault. His standing hovers over the thrilling Nationwide League West race that pits the defending champion Dodgers, presently in second place, in opposition to the surprising Giants, in first, and the thrilling Padres, in third.
5. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s Triple Crown pursuit
We perceive now that neither batting common nor RBIs rank as notably useful measures. Nonetheless, the Triple Crown nonetheless carries a romance to it, as we noticed when Miguel Cabrera captured it 2012, the primary such achievement since Carl Yastrzemski did so in 1967. Vladdy Jr., recent off his MVP efficiency within the All-Star Recreation, presently leads the AL in batting common (.332) and RBIs (73) whereas trailing Ohtani by 5 homers (28).
6. Well being
It has been a predictably tough go for a lot of gamers as MLB climbs again to the usual 162-game schedule after enjoying simply 60 final yr throughout the pandemic. The Mets deserve credit score for combating by means of their blizzard of illnesses, but additionally they have benefited from their opponents’ misfortune. Most lately, the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. went down for the season with a torn ACL in his proper knee. Certainly baseball doesn’t need its postseason to show right into a Darwinian show of survival, like this yr’s NBA playoffs .
7. The Yankees
Oh, there they’re! All the way in which down at No. 7, regardless of the inherent New York bias, as a consequence of their mediocrity. Can they climb out of their gap, with eight of their first 10 video games in opposition to the resurgent Pink Sox? An enormous selloff on the deadline seems fairly unlikely, irrespective of how they fare. Additionally fairly unlikely? Aaron Boone, within the final yr of his contract, touchdown one other deal if the Yankees can’t repair this.
8. Sticky stuff
For all of the early harrumphing over the umpires’ search and seizure, the crackdown on overseas substances has largely labored up to now, with just one pitcher (Seattle’s Hector Santiago, who’s interesting his 10-game suspension) getting caught, and with offense up barely. And hey, prime suspect Gerrit Cole even dominated the Astros whereas beneath scrutiny. Might it’s this straightforward a repair? We’ll discover out in these subsequent few months.
9. The Astros
They’ll play in entrance of Dodgers followers Aug. 3-4 at Chavez Ravine, the primary such gig since revelations of their 2017 sign-stealing, and don’t be shocked in the event that they make Yankees followers look tame and respectful as compared. Regardless, Houston’s dominance beneath Dusty Baker is exceptional. Can the very best villains in any skilled sport proper now attain their third World Sequence in 5 years?
Sorry, we’re not fairly carried out with this storyline, or did you not see the Phillies’ Alec Bohm faraway from a sport proper earlier than the break after testing optimistic? With seven groups not reaching the 85 p.c threshold for vaccination that might restrict them from myriad restrictions — and making them much more susceptible to the Delta variant — this virus sadly will proceed to play a job on this season’s outcomes.