Have the Houston Astros Already Won their Division
The Houston Astros are unfair competition for American League rivals. The game’s top team is playing their personal best of the year. They put together the best week of baseball in the league so far this season and seem to have already won their division.
Over the past week, the Astros have scored 60 runs with a 10 game winning streak. They have also basically clinched the AL West already, carrying a 13.5 game lead into the new week without much competition from Trout-less Angels and the up-and-down Mariners and Rangers. The AL West is already a done deal but the rest of the AL division’s teams are as close as ever waiting for a leader to emerge. Early baseball results have defied predictions with teams like the Rockies and Yankees, but the Astros were predicted to win their division with a 91 win season. But they are playing beyond that lofty prediction on tract to win over 100 games.
Aside from the Astros large lead, other tight divisional races in the American League depend on which teams can find their winning streak.
Boston Red Sox: The Sox closer Craig Kimbrel dominated all comers in May en route to American League Pitcher of the Month honors. He struck out 25 batters over the past month while allowing just one hit. And while he has been lights out in closing affairs down, the club also received a boost from David Price, who made his return to the club on Memorial Day. After struggling in his initial outing, he looked be regaining his winning form over the weekend. Price allowed just one run over seven innings against the Orioles at a time when the club needs him more than ever. Fellow southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez will pay a visit to Dr. James Andrews this week, to gauge the severity of a knee injury that sent him to the 10-day DL after his season-worst outing on Thursday. Expect Boston to continue at or near the top of the AL Eastern division with a very good chance to win that crown.
Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles slid in the standings over the past few weeks but they proved they are a legitimate threat. They opened the week by taking two of three from the division leading Yankees, before splitting a weekend series with the Red Sox. They are still three games out of the lead and in third place, but the AL East race is a competitive force and next weekend’s series in the Bronx will provide the Orioles a chance to move up the difficult AL East ladder.
Cleveland Indians: After two months into the season, the defending AL Champions are a puzzling question to answer. They have been dealing with an underwhelming effort from their starting staff with injuries throughout the roster and they have struggled to find consistency. After taking three of four against an A’s team they can easily handle, they struggled to do the same against the Royals, dropping both of the first two games in their weekend match. It was a missed opportunity to reclaim the AL Central from the Twins, who were being overwhelmed by the Astros early in the week. This is another close division race but it is for the Indians taking unless their competition keeps the pressure on them. The surprising Twins will need help but a stronger Detroit Tigers lineup is showing signs of coming together.
New York Yankees: With Mike Trout out of action, many opinions have shifted towards Aaron Judge as being the leader of the pack for AL MVP honors right now. It has been 16 years since Ichiro last pulled off dual MVP/Rookie of the Year honors, Judge is making a great impression. He is carrying an eight-game hitting streak into the new week and has the Yanks positioned with a two-game lead in the AL East, a division that they have lead for all but one day since May 14. This Yankee team was underrated from the start and continue to surprise with power and pitching and consistency. Getting reliever Chapman back to the Bronx was a smart move for the Yankees to keep their winning ways throughout the season.