MLB Week in Review (August 18-24)

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The MLB season is beginning to wind down with the last month of the regular season approaching. Although some teams have found themselves out of the postseason already the last month will see a final race for the playoffs. As teams begin preparing for the playoffs teams get bigger and the top players become key to any success as days off become sparse. At least this is the general rule in the MLB as teams stock up for a playoff run. Then there is the Washington Nationals who have had a spectacular season. In fact it may be a season that many in the organization never expected as they sit in first place in the NL East and look to be on track for their first division title since moving from Montreal. As they approach the end of the season they are seeing great performances from young phenom and potential NL rookie of the Year award winner Bryce Harper and a number of other players. The biggest reason for their success this year has been their rotation as Gio Gonzalez, Jason Zimmerman, Edwin Jackson, and Ross Detwiler have all had great seasons. None of the starting rotation though has had as good a season as Stephen Strasburg who has racked up a 15-5 record with a 2.85 ERA. What makes this even better is that Strasburg who was touted as the next greatest pitcher, is doing all of this coming off of Tommy John Surgery from last year. This surgery has ended pitchers careers and usually takes some time to recover from but Strasburg has shown that the younger you are the faster you can bounce back. Still though there is concern for Strasburg, especially by the owners and GM Mike Rizzo, who have been watching Strasburg closely all summer. With their future invested heavily in Strasburg the Nationals have put some limitations in place to ensure that the young pitcher will be around for much longer. The Nationals established an innings limit, 160-180 innings, at the beginning of the year on Strasburg to ensure that he would not reinjure his arm and possibly end his career. When they put this limit in they did not expect their team to be this close to a playoff run and for Strasburg to be as good as he has been. Now with only one month left and the division still not clinched the Nationals are still thinking of shutting down their best pitcher before the season is done. That would include the postseason where the ace pitchers usually pitch on a shorter rotation to be able to play in key games. For the Nationals they are thinking that shutting him down will be a good option as they hope to have a long period of success with Strasburg at the helm. There is only one problem with that train of thought though as the Nationals cannot guarantee that their 2013 season will be like this season. In sports there is no guarantee that in any given year a team will be amazing or terrible as anything can happen. Next year the Nationals may not be in the same spot at this time and they will regret shutting down Strasburg for a great opportunity. The entire debate centres around the strength and weakness of controlling pitchers today. Protective teams continue to shut down pitchers early and limit pitches and for many this is doing more harm than good. The other theory is to let pitchers simply pitch as more pitching makes a stronger arm. The latter theory is one that many are wishing the Nationals would take as shutting down Strasburg may hurt the Nats chances of going far this postseason. The Nationals have a big decision to make in the next few weeks as they can attempt to continue their innings limit, shut him down now so he can pitch in the postseason under the limit, or scrap the limit all together and make a run at the World Series. Only one of these options will be chosen and for Washington it could be the difference between the World Series and a first round flame out.

As teams begin to prepare for the postseason star players are beginning to arise but over the last two weeks two of these players fell. Last week Melky Cabrera was found to have elevated levels of testosterone and was suspended 50 games, including the playoffs if the Giants make it. Then this week only a short distance away another star fell in the same way. Bartolo Colon had been having a great season and was a big reason as to why the Oakland Athletics were in the hunt. Then his resurgent year came crashing down as he was found to have elevated testosterone levels as well. Colon received the same suspension earning 50 games. The story was not as big as it seemed many had just said that it was yet another example of the game being dirty. It was much more than that though as both players represent something that the MLB has feared for years. That is the return of the steroid era that the MLB would love to forget but can’t seem to get away with. These are not the only representations of steroids this year in the MLB but they are the biggest and in a sport that made strides to be clean but cannot get there. The Colon and Cabrera suspensions are the two biggest names this year and as these reports surface the talk of the steroid era continues to creep in. The MLB is hoping that these players will be the only ones and that most indiscretions will be forgotten by the postseason but the fact is that baseball still has a problem. This problem will never go away but the MLB is hoping that big name players like Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder will stay out of the headlines to preserve the game and represent a clean era that the league is trying to become.


MLB Standings

American League


1. New York Yankees (.584)

2. Tampa Bay Rays (.551)

3.  Baltimore Orioles (.544)

4. Boston Red Sox (.476)

5. Toronto Blue Jays (.448)


1. Chicago White Sox (.556)

2. Detroit Tigers (.536)

3. Kansas City Royals (.444)

4. Cleveland Indians (.432)

5. Minnesota Twins (.408)


1. Texas Rangers (.592)

2. Oakland Athletics (.548)

3. Los Angeles Angels (.524)

4. Seattle Seahawks (.484)


National League


1. Washington Nationals (.616)

2. Atlanta Braves (.563)

3. Philadelphia Phillies (.468)

4. New York Mets (.457)

5.  Miami Marlins (.449)


1. Cincinnati Reds (.598)

2. St. Louis Cardinals (.552)

3. Pittsburgh Pirates (.536)

4. Milwaukee Brewers (.468)

5. Chicago Cubs (.384)

6. Houston Astros (.315)


1. San Francisco Giants (.563)

2. Los Angeles Dodgers (.540)

3. Arizona Diamondbacks (.508)

4. San Diego Padres (.449)

5. Colorado Rockies (.408)


Key Scores:

Boston Red Sox 4 – 1 New York Yankees

– The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is one of the best and biggest in the MLB but this year has lost some of its fight with the Red Sox well out of the playoff race and the Yankees dominating again but the Red Sox didn’t get the memo as they beat their rivals in another meeting this year


Washington Nationals 5 – 4 Atlanta Braves (13th)

– The Nationals and Braves are in a tight battle for the NL East and this battle translated on the field with a close game between the two teams only ending when Chad Tracey hit a walk off single in the 13th inning


San Francisco Giants 8 – 4 Los Angeles Dodgers

– As the pennant race heats up so does the Dodgers-Giants rivalry as both teams are looking to take the NL West but this time the Giants got the better of their division rivals as they added to their lead in the division and the playoff race


Oakland Athletics 5 – 4 Tampa Bay Rays

– The Athletics and Rays are in the midst of a tight wild card battle as the Rays look to make the postseason again out of the strong AL while the Athletics are looking for a return to the postseason after years of sitting on the outside


Next Week:

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers (August 27th; 8:05 pm EDT)

– As the Rays continue to fight for the Wild Card Spot the Rangers are looking to put their division away with the Angels and Athletics fighting it out by themselves as the Rangers are trying to get back to the World Series


Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs (August 28th; 8:05 pm EDT)

– Although both teams seem to be out of the playoffs this year but a matchup of two Midwest teams is always a good one especially with the football season around the corner with the Chicago-Green Bay rivalry ready to kick off the baseball teams look to get a win


Chicago White Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles (August 30th; 12:35 pm EDT)

– With both teams in the middle of a playoff run the White Sox and Orioles will both be looking for a win as the Sox try to beat the O’s to extend their division lead and the O’s look to beat the Sox in their pursuit of a wild card spot


St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals (August 31st; 7:05 pm EDT)

– The Cards are looking for another storybook season where they make it in to the postseason in the last second while the Nationals are looking for their first birth in the playoffs as both look for a win to ensure their spots

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