With the All-Star break here, we have officially hit the halfway point of the season; meaning that the playoff race is getting ready to commence.
Here are four MLBbros who need to step up and improve their play in the second half of the season (post-All-Star Game), in order to help their respective teams reach the promised land.
1. Mookie Betts
Mookie Betts and his Los Angeles Dodgers are in the midst of one of the toughest division races in the history of baseball. The National League West is home to the three best records in the National League and whichever two teams do not win the pennant will have to face off in a one-game playoff ( where anything can happen).
Friendly reminder that even in his “down year” Mookie Betts is still having a career-year for most players pic.twitter.com/5EydO4i8Hn
— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) July 11, 2021
Betts played well enough to be voted on as an All-Star this season, but we have not seen the usual MVP-type numbers for him. His average sits at .249 with 37 RBI and 12 home runs. Despite that, he is still doing a good job with getting on base as he is fourth for all Right Fielders in walks and has a .819 OPS.
After hitting a grand slam in the Dodgers 22-run performance Saturday night and then following that with a home run Sunday, Betts may be a step ahead of us as he is already heating up right before our eyes.
GRAND SLAM FOR SECOND BASEMAN MOOKIE BETTS pic.twitter.com/7hVsYM2q9X
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) July 11, 2021
Betts was slated to be the only MLBbro on the National League All-Star team, but he will be skipping out on the game in order to have his body ready for the stretch run.
"I think we all know the goal is to win a World Series, and I think this break will definitely help me to help us get to that point.” @mookiebetts on skipping out on the ASG. pic.twitter.com/LMJdK2Je0u
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) July 11, 2021
2. Josh Bell
Whenever we get back to playing baseball next weekend, Josh Bell and the Washington Nationals are going to immediately be in must-win mode in order to determine whether they will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.
Bell has been better during the month of July. He is hitting .314 with three doubles and five RBI, which have all come within his last seven games. Since May 13, he has hit nine home runs and driven in 32 runs.
The Nationals have been dealing with injuries throughout this entire season, mostly coming in their pitching staff but recently those problems have spread to the lineup so Bell will need to be a constant force as they trail the Mets in the standings by five and a half games.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 23, 2021
3. Jackie Bradley Jr.
Jackie Bradley Jr. has always been without question one of the best defensive outfielders in the game but his hitting has been lacking this season, and he will need to turn it around quickly to secure a spot in the Brewers’ lineup.
What. A. Catch.
Jackie Bradley Jr. laid out to take a hit away, showing off his Gold Glove skills. pic.twitter.com/rzbWWy4r5K
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) April 17, 2021
Bradley only has two hits in his last 25 at-bats and is only batting .167 for the season with a .252 on base percentage. That will not get it done in the playoffs! Especially for a Brewers team that has one of the best starting rotations in baseball yet sits 29th in total batting average as a team.
The Brewers have a trio of MLBbro outfielders including Lorenzo Cain who recently began a rehab assignment and Tyrone Taylor who recently snapped his streak of 20 games without a home run. One of those three is likely to be the odd man out whenever Cain returns to their squad.
TIE GAME ?
Tyrone Taylor evens things up in the 8th‼️ pic.twitter.com/KVBjYHf3f4
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 11, 2021
4. Amir Garrett
Amir Garrett began the season as the Reds projected closer but he did not start the way he wanted to, like many members of their bullpen, whose 5.21 ERA is the third highest in all of baseball.
Amir Garrett, K'ing the Side.
And basks in the boos. pic.twitter.com/9f6UcCbFYm
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 11, 2021
Garrett blew a few saves and even blew a gasket in a game against the Cubs that led him to be suspended, but over the last three weeks, he has righted the ship and been one of the better relievers in the Majors.
He has not given up a run since June 17, and has struck out 12 batters and walked only four during that span.
The Reds have the best chance to catch the Brewers for the National League Central crown, but if they cannot close out games and hold leads there is no way they will hoist the World Series trophy this Fall.