As we enter the late days of summer and the month of August, Major League Baseball is just starting to really heat up. Most of the divisions throughout the sport have neck and neck races, meaning that each game from here on out will be critically important as to postseason hopes and successes, especially with all the wild card teams staring down the barrel of a 1-game playoff at season’s end. The teams that are likely to come out on top of their divisions (and who have the most realistic shot at the World Series) will be the ones that get hot from this point onwards.
Despite great seasons so far by teams like the Oakland Athletics, the San Francisco Giants, and the Milwaukee Brewers, if they cannot hit full stride at this juncture, they will likely be headed for early postseason exits, if they can qualify. Fortunately for the Giants, they have been the hot team several times in recent history, giving the city two championships. But to me several other talented squads seem the most likely to make the trip through October and into the 2014 World Series…
The first team that intrigues me is the St. Louis Cardinals. In the National League Central Division, them, the Brewers, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Cincinnati Reds are all within a realistic shot of claiming the division. But the Cardinals have the most winning experience and were the most active in recent trades, reeling in star pitchers Justin Masterson and John Lackey, while also gambling on the attitude of veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Already a strong contender year in and year out with guys like Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, and Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals have put themselves in prime position to not only get hot, but to make a serious World Series push.
Another team in the NL that intrigues me is the Los Angeles Dodgers. Simply stated, they have more talent than anybody else in the league, including 3 ace pitchers in Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and baseball’s best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw. Offensively, the power of Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, and Hanley Ramirez will keep the Dodgers in any game or playoff series. While they haven’t reached a streak like they managed mid-summer last year, they are certainly a team capable of doing just that in the months ahead to claim the World Series.
In the American League, I have my faith in the Detroit Tigers, who just added David Price to an already strong pitching lineup of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Another team with solid hitting from Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, this could finally be the Tigers’ year should they be the lucky team destined to get hot.
But to get everything clicking into place right at the time for the playoffs is no easy feat. It could be anyone from the Los Angeles Angels to the New York Yankees, or even the Kansas City Royals who could go on a tear and take the title. However it ends up going, we can be certain that for whatever club (or clubs) that get hot, the next few months will certainly provide some exciting baseball!
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