Around the Horn Talk Writer’s Roundtable: Playoff Forecast Edition

Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports
Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB season is slightly over 70% of the way complete. The National League has 7 teams vying for 5 playoff spots, whereas the American League is more of an open race. An August trade involving Chase Utley or James Shields seems like a possibility as teams make a final push to strengthen their rosters for the playoffs. Let’s see what our writers forecast for the remainder of the season and the playoffs.

The Lead-Off

1. If you were Terry Collins and your Mets were to play in the NL Wild Card game, who do you start on the mound: Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Colon, Niese, or Matz? Why?

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): If I am Terry Collins, I am handing the ball to Jacob deGrom. In my opinion, he is a slightly better option than Matt Harvey because he has been more consistent throughout the season. deGrom has posted slightly better numbers than Harvey this season. deGrom is 11-6 with a 2.03 ERA, whereas Harvey is 11-7 with a 2.61 ERA.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): If I was Terry Collins I would give the ball to Jacob deGrom. deGrom was the ace when Harvey was out with injuries and has been the Mets best pitcher this season. He is a filthy pitcher. deGrom also had a great All-Star game. The 2014 NL Rookie of the Year award winner has improved in 2015 and has pitched himself to a 11-6 record with an impressive 2.03 ERA in 146.2 innings of work, while punching out 152 batters and only walking 28 hitters. This is the right man for the job.

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer): I would hate to be Terry Collins and be forced into making this decision. Intellectually, I would choose the kid phenom and 2014 Rookie of the Year deGrom. So far this season deGrom is 11-6, with a 2.03 ERA, and has racked up 152 strikeouts. Emotionally, I would go with the ageless Bartolo Colon. Colon is 10-11, with a 4.76 ERA, and ninety-eight strikeouts. The playoffs take on a life of their own. There is a carnival like atmosphere. Colon is an excellent choice as a carnival barker! deGrom, arguably the better pitcher, has no post-season experience. Colon has six years of post-season experience involving seven series. Like this season, Colon has a losing record in the postseason. However, I would go with Colon for the experience factor. I would hope to coax six innings out of Colon. Use any combination of Carlos Torres, Alex Torres, or Bobby Parnell for the seventh. For the eighth I would follow with Tyler Clippard- 2.35 ERA, 18 saves, 40 strikeouts, and a 1.17 Whip, or Sean Gilmartin-2.08 ERA, 31 strikeouts, and a Whip of 1.18. For the ninth, Jeurys Famila- 1.94 ERA, 32 saves, 57 strikeouts, and a  0.97 Whip. With the addition of Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets are a better team offensively and defensively making the risk of choosing Colon worth taking.

Jacob Book (Cubs’ Writer): If I am Terry Collins I have all the faith in the world in both Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom. That being said I would hand the ball to Matt Harvey. Since upgrading the offense the Mets have averaged 5.6 runs in the month of August, best in the MLB. I would want to save Jacob deGrom for a series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. Ultimately I do not see New York giving the division back to Washington.

Joe Botana (White Sox’s Writer)Terry Collins has a really nice problem, one which most managers would love to have. Which of my young superstar pitchers do I give the ball to in a crucial must-win one game series. I would hand the ball to Jacob deGrom. Simply put, you have to win this game to move on, and he gives you the best chance to win as leader in every category that matters. Further, this sets him up for a mid-series appearance at home against the Cardinals in either game three or four, which could be critical games in that round.

Tucker Peterson (Padres’ Writer)To me this is a no brainer – Matt Harvey. Although second year pitcher Jacob deGrom (11-6) is having a fantastic season with the second lowest ERA (2.01) in all of majors, I still believe Harvey is the way to go. Harvey is pitching to the tune of an 11-7 record and 2.61 ERA, which is 7th in the National League. Despite battling injuries last season, Harvey is still a 4th year pro and has been the Mets’ ace the last couple years he has played. Harvey has more experience and that is why I would start him.

2. Have the Royals ran away with the AL Central? If there is one team in that division that can catch them, who is it?
USA Today
USA Today

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): The Royals have absolutely ran away with the AL Central and I believe that they’ll be the only AL Central representative in the playoffs. However, if there was one team that could catch them, it would have to be the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers talent wise, are the only comparable team in the division, which is still a little bit of a stretch.

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): Yes, the Royals have ran away with the AL Central Division. The one team that could “try” and catch them could be the Twins. It is a long shot because the Royals keep winning and the Twins are already 11 games back. It could be done, but the Royals would have to lose and Twins would have to win almost every game.

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer): With the possible exception of Armageddon, I don’t see anyone or anything which is capable of preventing the Kansas City Royals from capturing the American League Central Division Crown.

Jacob Book (Cubs’ Writer): The Kansas City Royals have absolutely run away with the AL Central. I can not even picture another team coming close to overtaking them for the division lead, outside of a ‘69 Cubs collapse and letting the Twins slip by them.

Joe Botana (White Sox’s Writer): The Royals have absolutely run away with the AL Central Division for two reasons. First, they have by far the biggest lead. Second, they have the weakest pack of pursuers.This division race features American Pharoah being chased by the Budweiser Clydesdales. Statistically speaking, the Twins would have to play at the .640 clip of the Cardinals, and the Royals at the .400 clip of the Phillies, to overcome the eleven game differential. Neither of these is going to happen, and certainly not both.

Tucker Peterson (Padres’ Writer): I am going to keep this simple for everyone: yes the Royals have ran away with the AL Central and no one is catching them. They are clearly the front-runners in the division and you could argue of the entire American League.

3. Now that he has cleared waivers, do you think that Chase Utley will get traded in an August trade? What teams are the best suitors for Utley?

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): I think that there is a very good chance that Utley will get traded, especially since he has been hot since returning from the DL. Also, Cesar Hernandez has established himself as the Phillies’ second baseman going forward after this year, which would be solidified by an Utley trade. As for Utley, the Angels, Giants, and Cubs have all contacted the Phillies regarding his services. The Phillies are likely to deal the veteran to whomever can package the best prospect in the deal. With that said, Utley can deny any trade he wants to, due to the 10/5 rule. Reports have indicated that Utley would be choosing between the Angels and the Cubs because he would play a larger role on those teams in comparison to the role he’d play on the Giants.

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): Yes, with Chase Utley clearing trade waivers I can see him getting moved. The Phillies will move him to gain prospects, which is a must need, and also to save money. The one team that could use him could be the Giants, with everyday second baseman Joe Panik on the DL.

Aldo Soto/ Sportsmockery
Aldo Soto/ Sportsmockery

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer): It appears Utley would be a nice fit for San Francisco.  Either as a bat off the bench, or sharing second base with Joe Panik who is currently on the DL.

Jacob Book (Cubs’ Writer): It is in the best interests of the Phillies, Chase Utley, and the San Francisco Giants to make something happen. With Joe Panik on the DL and the Giants falling farther and farther out of the wild card race, a solid veteran presence could do no harm. Philadelphia would be wise to try to get something in return for Utley, especially when San Francisco needs the deal more than they do. Finally I think a change of scenery, coupled with being healthy, will help get Utley back on track.

Joe Botana (White Sox’s Writer)The Phillies are in full rebuild mode and will try to move a veteran like Utley for prospects. One team which could make a move for him would be Toronto, in spite of the fact that they recently acquired Cliff Pennigton. His veteran presence and historically strong bat would fit well with a young team that’s clearly “all-in” for 2015. The Giants GM has admitted to making an offer for Utley in response to Joe Panik’s longer than expected absence due to a back injury. One other possibility would be the Cubs, for whom a veteran presence would be valuable, and whose bat would be an upgrade over light hitting rookie Addison Russell.

Tucker Peterson (Padres’ Writer): Chase Utley has had a great career with the Phillies, batting .285, but it may be the right time to cut him loose. He is hitting a putrid .208 this season after batting .270 just last season. Utley has been with the Phillies every season of his 13 year career so it would be hard to say goodbye. He still has a few years left on his contract so it may be time to sell now with anticipation his production is going to continue to drop. He will probably fit best on a contending team ready to make the push. I am thinking either the Angles or the Cubs only because they both could use middle infielders and are in good position down the home stretch of the season.

4. As the offseason approaches and many tough decisions must be made regarding the manager position, which manager(s) are most likely on the hot seat and headed out?

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer): I would have to say that John Farrell is on the hot seat. Since winning the 2013 World Series, Farrell has failed to have a winning season. With the talent on the Red Sox’s roster, they should at least be in the playoff hunt. One thing that is out of Farrell’s control is their weak pitching, and it’ll be up to new GM Jerry DiPoto to upgrade that this offseason.

Christopher Evans
Christopher Evans

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer): There are quite a few managerial candidates to be fired at the end of the season. That list includes Robin Ventura, John Farrell, Brian Price or Lloyd McClendon. Out of all of those managers I could see John Farrell losing his job. Farrell could be fired due to what it seems to happen as back to back seasons in the bottom of the cellar. The Red Sox spend all that money on players such as Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Bad signings and the team needs a new look and voice. Clean out the roster and get a new voice to lead the Red Sox.

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer): I believe there is a tie in this category with Brian Price of the Reds and John Farrell of the Red Sox.

Jacob Book (Cubs’ Writer): There are quite a few managers who could be finding new homes come October. However, none shine quite as brightly in this conversation as Brian Price. With all of the talent on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster, it was very hard to picture them being 22.5 games out of first place. After dealing 40% of the starting rotation, It is time for the Reds to proceed with another manager next season and get these all-star caliber hitters back on track.

Joe Botana (White Sox’s Writer): After the disappointing season that the Chicago White Sox are continuing to experience, I believe Robin Ventura will be “He Gone!” after this season. The only thing that could save him would be if the Sox improbably managed to finish strong and claim the second AL Wild Card. While that’s not as unlikely as the Royals being caught by anyone for the AL Central crown, it’s close. Another almost certain departure will be the Reds’ Brian Price, who’s made headlines for all the wrong reasons, namely 77 of them in one tirade earlier in the season. His team was expected to contend, but instead finds itself down a lap or two, and competing for the NL Central cellar with the Brewers, who already fired Ron Roenicke as their manager a few months ago.  One additional “dark horse” candidate would be the Mets’ Terry Collins, but only if his team folds in the stretch run and fails to make the playoffs. With their stellar pitching staff and improved offensive punch, I consider that to be most unlikely.

Tucker Peterson (Padres’ Writer): Teams like the Padres, Marlins, and Brewers already fired their respective managers early on. My guess would be Brad Ausmus of the Detroit Tigers. They have had a let down of a season even with very high expectations and ended up being sellers in a big way at the trade deadline, shipping David Price to the Toronto Blue Jays. My next choice would be John Farrell of the AL East’s last-place Boston Red Sox. There is always pressure in Boston for the team to do well which makes me think he is good as gone.

Grand Salami

Buy or Sell?
  • Brian Bahr/Getty Images
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Cardinals reach 100 wins

  • Mets win the NL East
  • Giants make the playoffs
  • Padres trade James Shields in an August trade
  • Blue Jays make the World Series

Kyle May (Angels’ Writer):

  • Cardinals reach 100 wins – Buy
  • Mets win the NL East – Buy
  • Giants make the playoffs – Sell
  • Padres trade James Shields in an August trade – Sell
  • Blue Jays make the World Series – Sell

Daniel Satter (Rays’ Writer):

  • Cardinals reach 100 wins – Buy
  • Mets win the NL East – Sell
  • Giants make the playoffs – Buy
  • Padres trade James Shields in an August trade – Sell
  • Blue Jays make the World Series – Buy

Jim Tsapelas (Cardinals’ Writer):

  • Cardinals reach 100 wins – Buy
  • Mets win the NL East – Buy
  • Giants make the playoffs – Sell
  • Padres trade James Shields in an August trade – Buy
  • Blue Jays make the World Series – Buy

Jacob Book (Cubs’ Writer):

  • Cardinals reach 100 wins – Buy
  • Mets win the NL East – Buy
  • Giants make the playoffs – Sell
  • Padres trade James Shields in an August trade – Sell
  • Blue Jays make the World Series – Sell

Joe Botana (White Sox’s Writer):

  • Cardinals reach 100 wins – Buy
  • Mets win the NL East – Buy
  • Giants make the playoffs – Sell
  • Padres trade James Shields in an August trade – Buy
  • Blue Jays make the World Series – Buy

Tucker Peterson (Padres’ Writer):

  • Cardinals reach 100 wins – Sell
  • Mets win the NL East – Buy
  • Giants make the playoffs – Buy
  • Padres trade James Shields in an August trade – Sell
  • Blue Jays make the World Series – Sell
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s