As baseball fans gear up for the home stretch there are several division races that are starting to take shape.
You have teams like Atlanta and Los Angeles in the National League, who have bashed their way to the largest division leads. Meanwhile, no other division leader has built a lead larger than five games.
With so many close races potentially coming down to the wire, there will be plenty of opportunities for MLBbros on every division-leading roster to have an impact on October baseball.
Typically, when we mention MLBbros and a battle for the AL East crown, we are talking about the Bros in the Bronx. This season there’s a new bunch looking to claim the pennant, as Cedric Mullins and the Baltimore Orioles continue to hold firm atop the division.
Mullins has provided more pop for an impressive Orioles lineup, slugging .609 with two homers and six RBI over his last seven games. Deadline addition Jack Flaherty looked impressive in his debut on the mound, and although he lost his second start, he only gave up three earned runs and kept his potent offense in striking distance of their opponent.
Albeit a small sample size, over the past week Twins slugger Byron Buxton has looked like the All Star Twins fans have grown to love. Buxton is slashing .375/.444/.833 over his last seven with nine hits in 24 ABs including two homers, six RBI and six runs scored.
Once the Guardians decided not to be buyers at the deadline, this division was pretty much gift wrapped for Minnesota. Now they just have to see it through.
After being scoffed at for spending big on their middle infield, Marcus Semien and the Rangers get the last laugh as they head into one last Texas showdown with Dusty Baker’s Houston Astros.
Semien’s production has been a key component to victory all season for Texas, and he has consistently delivered. Over his last 30 games, Semien is slashing .307/.398/.544 with seven homers, 16 RBI, 17 walks and 26 runs. Dusty’s boys won’t be going anywhere, so Marcus will need to continue this pace if they want to hold on to that division,
MLBBro.com has been all over Money Mike Harris since he made his debut last season, and this year has been more of the same. Michael has been spectacular for the Braves and has once again established himself as one of the best left-handed hitters in the game.
Harris has been so good that he’s been moved up from the ninth spot to the second spot in the order for this series against the Yankees.
Despite the hot start for Marcus Stroman and the talented bunch of youngsters over in Cincinnati putting up numbers, Devin Williams and the Milwaukee Brewers once again find themselves poised to take the NL Central.
Devin has continued to dominate, posting a 3-1 record with a 0.00 ERA, nine saves and 27 strikeouts over his last 14 innings pitched. His changeup is arguably the most devastating off-speed pitch in the game, so Brewers batters will need to do everything in their power to get the ball in his hands with a lead.
Los Angeles Dodgers
If not for his own teammate Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts would be getting the full Hollywood push for Most Valuable Player. Not only has Mookie taken on the added responsibility of playing the infield when needed, Betts is putting up one of his best offensive seasons ever.
Mookie is hitting .287 with 31 homers, 80 RBI and an OPS+ of 156 as the Dodgers have overtaken the young Arizona Diamondbacks. They have made additions to their pitching staff to help overcome some of the injuries they have faced, and with an offense lead by Betts and Freeman, the Dodgers are prepared for all challengers.
The Minnesota Twins are currently 54-50, two games ahead of the Cleveland Guardians in the American League Central. They are in a great position heading into a weekend series against the lowly Kansa City Royals. However, the Twins will not be able to make a sustained playoff push without their MLBbros contributing to the cause.
Micheal Taylor has been enjoying his best month of the season in July. With a batting average of .268 and OPS of .821, Taylor has helped the Twins go 13-8 so far this month (as of July 27). Providing stability at the bottom of the lineup, the MLBbro has been a welcome addition to the Twins in his first year. His solid play in the outfield has also allowed the team to use the injury plagued Buxton at the DH position.
The Twins are hoping that some of the recent struggles that have plagued their slugger, MLBbro Byron Buxton, will go away. Post All-Star break, Buxton has batted only .091, tallying only three hits in 33 at-bats. There are some concerns with his lower-than-normal OPS (.702). He still has significant power, evidenced by 30 of his 57 hits being extra-base hits. Eliminating some of the strikeouts will go a long way in helping Buxton to get back to himself down the stretch.
Boasting an exit velocity that ranks in the 77th percentile shows that he is hitting the ball hard, just not in the right spots, so a breakout is almost inevitable.
MLBbro Nick Gordon has not played since May 17th. He fractured his right shin and has been on the IL ever since. He is slated to resume baseball activities as early as next week. His versatility will be a welcome addition, especially as a playoff stretch piece that comes from inside the clubhouse, rather than via a trade. The Twins will need all hands on deck to keep their playoff hopes alive and to fend off the pesky Guardians. The return of another solid young player like Gordon, could help them in many ways.
With Baltimore Orioles All-Star outfielder Cedric Mullins injured over the weekend, the team signed former New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks as a replacement.
The former Yankees outfielder didn’t waste any time making his impact felt.
Hicks was removed from Wednesday’s game against the Guardians due to muscle cramps (probably due to inactivity), but before he departed Hicks had a sparkling debut for the O’s, reaching base in all three plate appearances with a walk and two singles in a 12-8 slugfest loss to the Cleveland Guardians.
With Mullins expected to be out for a few weeks with a groin strain, Hicks could be a dark horse signing. The Orioles aren’t looking at it as only a fill-in while Mullins is on the mend, but per reports, team brass believe the Yankees may have given up on the talented Hicks too soon.
On Tuesday, Orioles executive vice president and general manager, Mike Elias expressed optimism of Hicks, while talking to reporters via the Baltimore Sun.
“We have stuff that we look at from a scouting and evaluation perspective that, as I’ve said before, it’s very different from looking at the back of a baseball card. We hope that we get a bounce back from anyone that we bring in here.”
“You may not get a great outcome on everything, but we see stuff with Aaron Hicks that we like, and it feels good like a good fit for us. I hope this is a shot in the arm for him, and I hope he helps us out and helps us win some games.”
On Wednesday, Elias expanded on those sentiments in an interview with Brian Kenny, prior to Aaron Hicks starting in centerfield and hitting sixth in the lineup against the Cleveland Guardians.
“The thing we like about him is the defense,” Elias raved. “He can switch-hit and gives us a left-handed option. We didn’t have a left-handed option from the centerfield position while Cedric is hurt, on this roster. He manages a really good at-bat. Real good swing decisions and he’s always drawn his walks so hopefully joining the Orioles this fun team that we have, a change of scenery, gives him a shot in the arm and he’s the right guy at the right time for us.”
The fact that Hicks could barely get any playing time on the Yankees and was thrown right into the fire with a Baltimore team that has a better record is a sure sign that Baltimore brass thinks that Hicks has more bite than bark left in his stick.
Elias Contacted Hicks’ Agent As Soon As Mullins Got Injured
Elias says once Mullins went down with the groin pull, he called Hicks’ agent and told him the team needed Hicks’ services and he would play right away. That was naturally music to Hicks’ ears. Elias didn’t seem too concerned about Hicks’ struggles prior to his release in mid-May.
“I don’t think (the groin injury) is too bad,” Elias told Kenny. “We got an MRI and thankfully it doesn’t look too severe. what I can say right now it’s probably best measured in weeks instead of months in regard to how long Mullins will be out.”
“But we’ve got some internal options, Elias added, “who can play centerfield. We brought in Aaron Hicks, who gives us another option from the left side.”
Elias says Hicks’ experience and talent is needed right away because Baltimore’s outfield prospects are also injury-riddled at the minor league level.
“So we’re in a bit of a rough patch right now with Cedric being hurt, but every team goes through that.”
“I’m excited to be here. It’s an exciting young team and excited to help them win.”
Hicks Struggles In The Bronx Leads To Designation For Assignment
For Hicks it was a three-year struggle in the Bronx for the outfielder, but his 2023 start was icing-on-the-cake. After batting .188 with one homer, five RBI and a paltry .261 on-base percentage in 28, the Bronx Bombers decided that the relationship wasn’t up to par anymore and designated him for assignment on May 20th.
Hicks didn’t last there long with Mullins getting hurt, and now he’ll have an opportunity to show some of the things he can do for a surprising 35-20 Orioles, who currently have the third-best record in MLB behind the Tampa Bay Rays (39-18) and Texas Rangers (35-19).
Orioles Manager Brandon Hyde also likes the versatility that Hicks provides.
“Aaron’s got a lot of centerfield experience. Played left field here before also. Brings the defensive aspect and then the switch-hitting.”
While no one will confuse Hicks for the dynamic Mullins, he can help the team immensely by hitting for average and getting on-base when called upon as he exhibited in his first game witht he team. If he can show the promise that he displayed last year in New York when he had a 15-49 June stretch with a .286/.386/.408 slashline — that also included three homers and eight RBI, his best stretch of ball while in a Yankees uniform — then Hicks could play himself back into good graces with the baseball Gods.
Hicks is no longer the 27-homer and 79 RBI guy he was in 2018, and the Orioles know that, but they believe he still has enough left in the tank to at least be the guy who had that hot stretch last season. Adding Hicks was just a prorated $480,000, and the Orioles believe their bargain pickup could pay huge dividends for their very young, and steadily rising team.
MLBbro.com reporter Nick Hamilton and MLBbro Dominic Smith discuss all things Washington Nationals and how Smith’s career is going since he left the Mets. He’s a credit to the team on and off the field and is dedicated to impacting the next generation of Bros who are getting lost in the inner-city shuffle and priced out of the game.
Willie Calhoun went 2-for-7 during a three-game set against his former team, the Texas Rangers. Calhoun, who is batting .237 in limited duty, even hit cleanup in Friday’s opener. The outfielder has been on a hot streak, getting six hits in his last 16 at bats (.375) with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton nursing injuries.