Week eight ends with some incredible comebacks and hard fought games throughout Memorial Day weekend. If you blinked, you might have missed that the Royals now sit atop the AL Central with three impressive come-from-behind victories against the imploding Chicago White Sox. Stephen Strasburg, Johnny Cueto, and Clayton Kershaw continued to dominate hitters, while Noah Syndergaard got ejected for throwing a 99 mph fastball behind Chase Utley. And the Twins, Blue Jays, and Astros have strung together positive weeks to build upon, hoping to recapture their winning ways of 2015.
Kansas City Royals up 6 spots to #11 overall
Houston Astros up 6 spots to #21 overall
Chicago White Sox down 8 spots to #15 overall
Philadelphia Phillies down 10 spots to #18 overall
1. Chicago Cubs (34-14) 1st in the NL Central – No Change
They continue to prove that they are the most complete team, in both hitting and pitching, in the National League, if not the entire Major Leagues. This week, they took two out of three from the Cardinals in St. Louis in a hard fought Series and they swept the Phillies handily at home. Ben Zobrist continues to be the unsung hero in one of the most dynamic lineups as he leads the league in On Base Percentage (OBP) with a .451 mark.
2. San Francisco Giants (32-20) 1st in the NL West – Up 1
The starting rotation leads the Giants as they continue to separate themselves from other NL West teams and put themselves in the conversation as the best team in the National League. This week, they swept the Padres at home and took two out of three in Colorado. Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija have led that dominant starting rotation, as they have combined for a 1.53 ERA over their last 16 games. The Giants are 14-2 in that span.
3. Boston Red Sox (30-20) 1st in the AL East – Down 1
Led by the league’s most lethal offense and AL MVP favorite David Ortiz, the Red Sox had an even week, taking two of three at home against Colorado and avoiding the sweep in Toronto by winning David Price’s return to Rogers Centre. As JBJ’s streak ends at 27, Xander Bogaerts’s streak continues as he has hit safely in 22 straight games. Clay Buchholz had another disappointing start and consequently moved to the bullpen in the wake of the return of young left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. Hopefully, the move will improve the Red Sox average starting rotation.
4. Washington Nationals (30-21) 1st in the NL East – No change
After losing two out of three to their NL East rivals, New York Mets, the Nationals split a four-game series with the Cardinals. Stephen Strasburg won two games this week as the team has now won his last 15 starts, dating back to last season. Gio Gonzalez had a rough week as he lost two, and his ERA jumped from 1.86 to 3.57 in two starts. As Harper’s slump continues (4-24), Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon have led the offense this week helping the Nats stay atop the NL East.
5. New York Mets (28-21) 2nd in the NL East – Up 4
The Mets are 6-3 in their last nine, and this past week displayed the incredible depth they have in their starting rotation. Thanks in large part to Steven Matz, who dominated in Washington (at one point retiring 16 in a row in eight shutout innings), they took two of three in Washington. Matz is 7-0 with a 1.13 ERA since his first start and is arguably the best starter in the Mets rotation. Even with Matt Harvey’s well-documented struggles, the Mets starting staff has a collective 3.35 ERA, which ranks third in the majors.
6. Seattle Mariners (28-21) 2nd in the AL West – No change
This week, the Mariners took two out of three against Oakland in convincing fashion. However, they got swept in a disappointing series against the Minnesota Twins, lowlighted by Felix Hernandez being tagged for six earned runs at home. Although they are the best road team in the majors with an 18-7 record away from Safeco Field, their woes at home continue as they cannot consistently win in their home ballpark. Robinson Cano has stayed hot as he has a seven game hit streak with five extra base hits this week. The Mariners will have to deal with injuries moving forward, as starting shortstop Ketel Marte and center fielder Leonys Martin both landed on the DL. They must improve at home to be considered real contenders for the AL West crown.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates (28-21) 2nd in the NL Central – Up 4
The Pittsburgh Pirates have turned it on as of late and are returning to last season’s form. After sweeping the Diamondbacks, they fought hard against Texas in Arlington, but took only one of three games. They have won nine of their last twelve games, with their starters going 8-2 with a 1.21 ERA during that span. Since moving to the three hole in the lineup, Gregory Polanco has come on strong. In his last 17 starts in the three hole, he is hitting .343 with twelve extra-base hits and 17 RBIs. If not for the Cubs incredible start, the Pirates would be neck-in-neck with the best team in baseball.
8. Baltimore Orioles (28-20) 2nd in the AL East – Down 3
Week eight proved to be extremely tough for the Baltimore Orioles. They started the week being swept by the Houston Astros, the first time they were swept this season. During that series, the O’s set an MLB record for most strikeouts in a three-game series with 52 punch-outs. However, the Birds fought back to take two of three against a good Indians team.
9. Texas Rangers (29-21) 1st in the AL West – Up 1
The Rangers won both series this week against the Angels and the Pirates. Yu Darvish returned to the mound Saturday and pitched extremely well against the Pirates. As Cole Hamels has cemented himself atop the Rangers starting rotation, Yu Darvish complements Hamels extraordinarily well and is the reason they should be the favorites to win the AL West. Rookie outfielder Nomar Mazara has continued to fill the void for injured veteran Shin-Soo Choo as he leads all AL rookies in batting average, on base percentage, hits, runs, and walks.
10. Cleveland Indians (26-22) 2nd in the AL Central – Up 3
After winning three of four against the Chicago White Sox, the Indians dropped two of three to the Baltimore Orioles, but many encouraging signs are pointing in the right direction for the Tribe. Josh Tomlin, Danny Salazar, and Corey Kluber have solidified the starting rotation as the Indians wait for Carlos Carrasco, who is working himself back from a hamstring injury. Carrasco may return to the lineup as early as this week. Offensively, Jose Ramirez has been irreplaceable in the lineup as a versatile position player and a productive hitter. Ramirez is batting .393 with runners in scoring position and .421 with runners in scoring position with two outs.
11. Kansas City Royals (27-22) 1st in the AL Central – Up 6
After the Royals began the season in what seemed to be a World Series hangover, they have come on strong of late, winning five of six games this week against AL Central foes. After taking two of three from the Twins, the Royals swept the White Sox in come-from-behind fashion in each match. Injuries have begun to mount for the World Champs. But, even with three important, middle-of-the-lineup guys on the shelf (Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, and Salvador Perez), the heart of a champion willed the Royals to victory as they have taken a half game lead over the Indians for the AL Central lead. Hosmer paved the way offensively as he went 6-13 with three extra-base hits and eight RBIs during the White Sox series.
12. Miami Marlines (26-24) 3rd in the NL East – No change
Don Mattingly is leading a very poised Miami Marlins team. Jose Fernandez shined in his outing against Tampa Bay as Miami took three of four against their Florida rivals in the Citrus Series. However, there wasn’t any Southern hospitality as the Braves stole two games in Atlanta. Marcel Ozuna continued his on-base streak that has now reached 36 games. Ozuna has improved significantly from last year as he has a .341 batting average, thanks in large part to new hitting coach Barry Bonds. Even with Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich struggling with injuries, the Marlins are a formidable team that will only get better when the two sluggers return.
13. St. Louis Cardinals (26-25) 3rd in the NL Central – Up 1
After losing a hard-fought series to the Cubs, the Cardinals split a four game series with the Nationals in Washington. In what has always been a staple for the Cardinals organization, the starting pitching has struggled. Specifically, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha have been uncharacteristically bad in May as they both have 6.84+ ERAs. They are as excited as anyone to see the calendar turn to June.
14. Los Angeles Dodgers (27-24) 2nd in the NL West – Up 4
The Dodgers started the week dominating the lowly Cincinnati Red with a three-game sweep at Dodgers Stadium. The weekend series against the Mets was highlighted by Julio Urias’s MLB debut. The 19-year old phenom out of Mexico didn’t last long, but he showed flashes of brilliance of what is to come. Clayton Kershaw continues his historical stretch on the mound as he had a complete game shutout against the Reds. Without their ace, who knows where the Dodgers would be right now?
15. Chicago White Sox (27-24) 3rd in the AL Central – Down 8
After starting the season 23-10, the Pale Hose have gone 4-12 in their last 16 games to move down the AL Central standing to third place. Everything has gone wrong for the White Sox this week, as they have lost five straight series. Over the weekend in Kansas City, the White Sox bullpen imploded, giving up 14 runs in their latest sweep.
16. Detroit Tigers (24-25) 4th in the AL Central – Down 1
The Tigers started the week off well, taking care of the Phillies at home as they won two of three. However, the West Coast trip to the Bay proved difficult, as they lost two of three to the A’s. Michael Fulmer, whom they received from the Mets in the Yoenis Cespedes deal, enjoyed his best major league outing this weekend and displayed encouraging signs as he tries to solidify his spot in a rotation filled with a ton of question marks.
17. Toronto Blue Jays (26-26) 3rd in the AL East – Up 3
The Blue Jays have floundered in trying to meet the high expectations they set for themselves following last year’s ALCS run. The Blue Jays started off the week well, winning two of three at Yankee Stadium, and then proceeded to take another two out of three against the first place Boston Red Sox. Russell Martin broke out of his slump as he homered twice in the Bronx and had multiple hits against the Red Sox to help them win a 10-9 thriller. In injury news, as the Jays got back their second baseman Devon Travis, they lost Troy Tulowitzki to a strained quad, which has landed him on the 15-Day DL.
18. Philadelphia Phillies (26-24) 3rd in the NL East – Down 10
The Phillies early season magic seems to have come to an end. They have lost nine of their last thirteen, including their last three series. Their weekend ended in a sweep by the Chicago Cubs, as the Cubs manhandled the Phillies in Wrigley. Even with their promising starting rotation, the Phillies have struggled to score runs as their most productive hitter, Maikel Franco, has languished over his last fifteen games with only one home run and eight RBI’s.
19. Colorado Rockies (23-26) 3rd in the NL West – Down 3
The Rockies lost both of their series this week, first losing two of three in Fenway and then two of three against the Giants at Coors Field. After putting runs on the board against Madison Bumgarner, the Rockies quickly lost the lead to Buster Posey’s second three-run home run of the game and the rest was history. One positive takeaway from this week is that it seems Jon Gray, the third pick in the 2013 Amateur Draft, had another dominant performance, this time against the Red Sox.
20. New York Yankees (24-25) 4th in the AL East – Down 1
The Yankees split their six games this week, losing two at home to the Blue Jays and winning two in Tampa. They snuck out of Tampa with a series victory as Starlin Castro broke up Jake Odorizzi’s no-hitter and shutout with a two-run home run late in Sunday’s game. Masahiro Tanaka and Nathan Eovaldi were both spectacular in their respective starts this week, as the Yanks won both starts in low scoring affairs. There is a small margin of error for these pitchers since the Yankees offense has been anemic, even with Alex Rodriguez’s return from the DL.
21. Houston Astros (22-29) 4th in the AL West – Up 6
Last year’s AL West Champs seem to have found success late in May. Astros pitchers struck out 52 Orioles in their first series, setting a new record for most strikeouts in a three-game set. The Astros ended the week winning two of three against the Angels, a series highlighted by a strong performance from reigning Cy Young Dallas Keuchel and a pinch-hit three-run homer by Carlos Correa in the top of the thirteenth inning. Also, their bullpen posted the third best ERA in the majors for the month of May (2.39).
22. Milwaukee Brewers (23-27) 4th in the NL Central – Up 4
The Milwaukee Brewers put together one of their best weeks in the young MLB season. They swept the Braves in Atlanta and brought their winning ways back home as they took two of three against the Reds. Though they remain the bottom feeders of the their division, a win is a win, and the Brew Crew have won five out of their last six. Jonathan Lucroy had three RBIs in all three games of the weekend series. To help the Brewers, a key starter, Matt Garza, is set to pitch his first rehab game and may be on his way up to help the big league club in a week or two.
23. Los Angeles Angels (22-28) 3rd in the AL West – Down 1
The Angles won only two out of their six games this week against two AL West opponents. Their starting pitching has been destroyed by injuries and is waiting on Tim Lincecum and C.J. Wilson to work their way into to the rotation. Albert Pujols hit his 571st home run of his career, passing Rafael Palmeiro for 12th All-time. He is two homers away from tying Harmon Killebrew and twelve away from Mark McGwire.
24. Minnesota Twins (15-34) 5th in the AL Central – Up 6
Another team that has seemed to recapture their winning ways of 2015 is the Minnesota Twins. They have won four straight and swept the Mariners in Seattle. A big reason for their turnaround is their young slugger, Miguel Sano, who has hit eight home runs since May 11th, including four in his last four games. Over the last six games, the Twins have scored 33 runs with twelve homers. Remember, this is a team that a year ago was a game or two away from clinching a Wild Card berth. Don’t be surprised if they make a run.
25. Oakland A’s (22-29) 5th in the AL West – No change
The A’s have dealt with a large number of injuries to impactful players, such as Josh Reddick and Sonny Gray. Even though they won the last two games against the Tigers over the weekend, thanks in large part to an error by Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, Rich Hill was forced to leave Sunday’s game prematurely with a slight groin strain. Hill has been one of the biggest surprise offseason moves as he surprisingly has been their best pitcher this season with eight wins and a 2.25 ERA. Hopefully, it’s not too serious and he can avoid the DL.
26. Tampa Bay Rays (22-26) 5th in the AL East – Down 5
Jake Odorizzi’s almost perfect game, no-hitter, shutout against the Yankees is indicative of how the Rays have played as of late. They have had a ton of bad luck. They have lost seven of their last nine games, and the hole left by injured Kevin Kiermaier may be too big to fill in the short-term.
27. Arizona Diamondbacks (23-29) 4th in the NL West – Down 4
The Diamondbacks managed to salvage their week by winning their last two against San Diego after losing four in row, three to the Pittsburgh Pirates. But, the Diamondbacks have caught the injury bug as two starting pitchers, Shelby Miller, and Rubby De La Rosa, have both been put on the DL. Shelby Miller was one of the big pickups the Dbacks front office made this offseason, giving up the number one overall pick Dansby Swanson. They will be short-staffed until their two starters return.
28. San Diego Padres (20-31) 5th in the NL West – Down 4
Having lost six of their last seven, the Padres are in a full downward spiral. Last in the NL West, rumor has it that they may be shopping their ace, James Shields, to a contending team. He has gone at least six innings in every start this year and has elevated his play in May. Drew Pomeranz, who has been a lone bright spot for this team, got roughed up in his last outing against Arizona. Prior to that start, he had a 0.87 ERA in his last five outings.
29. Atlanta Braves (14-35) 5th in the NL East – Down 1
After getting swept by the Brewers, the Braves were able to take two out of three against their NL East opponents, Miami Marlins. They were able to take advantage of some late game miscues by the Marlins to steal the two first games of the series.
30. Cincinnati Reds (16-34) 5th in the NL Central – Down 1
The Cincinnati Reds are bad; extraordinarily bad. After another losing week, in which they were swept by the Dodgers and lost two out of three against the Brewers, the Reds have yet to win a road series this season. They have lost twelve of their last thirteen overall and are now 4-19 away from home. Look for them to try and move some of their big contracts, if they can, at the deadline.
Photo taken from Flickr Creative Commons. Keith Allison’s photo can be seen here.
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