Kamis, 14 Juni 2012

Interleague Play: The Big Weekend

What a weekend of games we have coming up in Major League Baseball as three of the National League's best take on three of the American League's best. So, what will happen in these big matchups.

New York Yankees at Washington Nationals
Harper has become baseball's newest star
The Nationals and the Yankees are the hottest teams in baseball as both teams have won six straight as the Nationals have won nine of their last eleven while the Yankees have won eleven of their last thirteen. The Nationals have the second best record in the majors while the Yankees have the third best. This is the undoubtedly best series in Interleague Play this year as both of these teams are World Series contenders. The Nationals rotation has been dominant and despite the fact that Stephen Strasburg is not pitching in this series, the Nationals have Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Edwin Jackson pitching. All three of those starters are in the top 30 in ERA along with the aforementioned Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals have the best team ERA in baseball thanks to a dominant bullpen led by Tyler Clippard who has done well at taking the place of closer Drew Storen while he is injured.Offensively, the Nationals have been led by All-Star caliber first baseman Adam LaRoche who is tearing it up with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs which is the most RBIs for any first baseman in baseball. Meanwhile, the Nationals might have the NL rookie of the year in 19-year-old Bryce Harper. The thing that makes Harper a great young player is the fact that he plays the game right with his great hustle and high energy. Harper has earned his way into the Nationals lineup and a return minors may never happen unless he picks up an injury.

Jeter has turned back the clock this year.
The Yankees also have a very strong rotation and despite not having the fron two in their rotation pitching this weekend, the Yankees do have Andy Pettitte pitching this weekend. Pettitte has been a huge surprise this season as he has found his old form that allowed him to dominate. Also, Ivan Nova has got it going rcently as he has only allowed one run in his last 15 innings (last two outings). Just like the Nationals, the Yankees lost their closer Mariano Rivera and then his replacement, David Robertson. However, the Yankees have found the replacement and a dominate one in Rafael Soriano. After a rough first season in New York, Sorianohas refound the form that allowed him to be one of the best closers in baseball in Tampa. Curtis Granderson has become one of the biggest power hitters in the game as Granderson is putting more All-Star numbers with 19 home runs and 39 RBIs while Derek Jeter has turned back the clock and has been the table-setter like he has been in the past. This will be an exciting series and this could even be a World Series preview but I think the Nationals will take two of three from the Yankees.

Adam Jones has had a career year at the plate
Baltimore Orioles at Atlanta Braves
The Orioles have been one of the biggest surprises in baseball while the Braves have had a strong start despite a lack of depth in the rotation. The Orioles have been heating up recently with four straight wins while the Braves have lost four straight and are struggling. The Orioles have not had the best rotation but Jason Hammel has been stellar thisyear as he has become the ace of the staff. However, the Orioles have a great bullpen which is led by closer Jim Johnson who is dominating hitters and having a career year. Pedro Strop and Darren O'Day have also been key to the success of the Baltimore bullpen. The Orioles have alsohad some excellent production from their lineup led by star center fielder Adam Jones. Jones has been a key for the Orioles success this year as he has been driving in tons of runs and has been rewarded with a contract extension. Chris Davis has been secretly putting upbig power number as the Orioles first baseman has twelve home runs.

Brandon Beachy has become the Braves' ace.
The Braves have been in playoff contention though they have had some struggles against some of the best teams in baseball like the Nationals and Yankees. The Braves rotation has a lack of depth at the back end but they have an ace at the front in Brandon Beachy who has had a breakout year. The Braves' bullpen has not been as good as it was last year except for closer Craig Kimbrel who is proving once again why he is one of baseball's best in the ninth inning. Dan Uggla is once again hitting well as he has had a great start with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs as he received some support from teammate Freddie Freeman who is having a breakout year with 37 RBIs. The Braves need wins and they will take two of three from the Orioles in what will be an exciting series.

Adam Dunn has refound his home run stroe
Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers
The White Sox have been a major surprise under first year manager Robin Ventura but the Dodgers have been a bigger surprise as they have the best record in baseball. The White Sox were not expected to be AL Central leaders but they are as Chris Sale has gone from a dominant reliever to one of the best starters in the American League. Jake Peavy has returned to the form that made his move to Chicago from San Diego so costly. The White Sox have not found a fit at clsoer as Hector Santiago was not any good while Addison Reed was not much better. However, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton has been rock solid in the bullpen on the south side of Chicago. The White Sox has been electirc thanks in large part to the revival of Adam Dunn who has had 21 home runs in his second season in Chicago after an awful start to his White Sox career. Paul Konerko once again is swinging the bat well as he has a .366 batting average with 12 home runs and 35 RBIs.


Kershaw has been the ace for the Dodgers' rotation once again
The Dodgers have been baseball best so far and Clayton Kershaw is leading one of the best rotations in baseball as Kershaw has been in Cy Young form all year and will face off against Chris Sale Saturday in a great pitching duel. Kenley Jansen took over the closer's role midseason and has been dominant i that role ever since as Jansen could be the Dodgers' closer for years. Andre Ethier was recently rewarded with a contract extension as he led the Dodgers' offense since the injury of Matt Kemp as he has drove in 55 runs, hit 10 home runs, and has a batting average of .291. AJ Ellis has been a surpise as the Dodgers' catcher has been hitting for a batting average of .303 and an OBP of .436. This will be an exciting series but the White Sox are starting to cool off and that will continue as the Dodgers will sweep the White Sox out of LA.

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