Everyone is watching Shohei Ohtani across the globe in amazement and intrigue.
Major League Baseball loves the attention that has been paid to Angels’ star player and the added spotlight that he brings to the game.
Can Ohtani continue this feat? A second half that was sensational. He is the Majors’ leader with 33 home runs. He has not shown any signs of slumping or slowing down — and should soon be accompanied by a healthy Mike Trout.
The big leagues’ pitchers are also doing their part.
Seven no-hitters have been recorded in the majors so far this season, which matches the record for the most in a single year in modern history. Eight was the record for overhand pitching in the first season of 1884.
Will Jacob deGrom and Walker Buehler join the list? Will the uproar about sticky substances be contained?
Torey Lovullo, Arizona Diamondbacks manager, and team are ready for a new start. They want to erase their record 24-game road losing streak that saw them go more than two months without winning at Chase Field.
Fans all over the country are eager to see the playoffs and make their judgments. The second half begins Thursday night with one game. Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, the AL East-leading Red Sox, will be visiting Yankee Stadium to begin an early stretch that could determine New York’s fate.
These are some things you should be paying attention to when play resumes.
As the July 30th trade deadline — moved up one day this year — quickly approaches, Trevor Story and Nelson Cruz will be attracting plenty of attention.
After this season, Story is a free agent and Colorado may try to get something for the star shortstop. C.J., a Rockies teammate, is also available. Cron will also be of interest.
Cruz, 41, is content to continue hitting home runs. He has 18 more hits this year, and is currently batting.304. The big guy at Target Field, a Twins’ downyear, is certain to be a trade target.
Gibson is enjoying his best season on the mound and Joey Gallo, a slugger, could be moving if Texas needs prospect packages for its All-Stars.
For many contenders, Eduardo Escobar from Arizona and Starling Marte from Miami would make solid choices.
OH, YES and OH-TANI
No matter what coast or division you are from, Ohtani is the center of attention.
For the big league lead, the two-day Japanese phenom is five runs ahead of All Star Game MVP Vladimir Guerrero Jr.. He also has 70 RBIs, three more than Guerrero Jr. for the most major league runs.
You want more? With four triples, he’s tied for the AL lead. Since Jim Rice’s 1978 victory, no one has been the league leader in triples and homers (previously Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays did it in 1955). Ohtani is the Angels’ most stealthy base hitter with 12.
He’s a 4-1 hitter with a 3.49 ERA from 13 starts. In 67 innings, he’s allowed just 46 hits and has struck out 87 batters.
Ohtani spoke through an interpreter, “Obviously, the hardest part is the preparation. You prepare differently as a pitcher or a hitter and it’s different every day for me.” The biggest challenge is just getting used to the preparation.
Resurgent Buster Posey and Kevin Gausman, both at 57-32 and resurgent, lead the talented NL West. The surprising San Francisco Giants have the best record in baseball with two more wins than the Red Sox or Houston Astros, which are both at 55-36.
The Giants’ second-year manager Gabe Kapler has a surprising place at the top in a division where the Dodgers and San Diego Padres are expected to win.
Farhan Zaidi (Giants president of baseball operations) said, “With our performance thus far as a group we get asked often, ‘What is the secret?'”. It’s not one thing. There are many things that have worked well. Not only are our veterans performing well, but they also set the tone for the clubhouse by how they approach it day in and day out.
Four straight wins by the Giants at San Francisco were won by Juan Soto, Washington Nationals and Washington Nationals.
Manager Dave Martinez of the Nats said, “We’ve been fighting day in and out.” They know that we must come back strong when we return.
The Yankees and Aaron Judge were not supposed to be eight games behind in first place and 4 1/2 ahead for a wild card spot, but they are. New York hosts the Red Sox in 8 of its 10 first games of the break. A poor showing could make the Yanks buyers rather than sellers.
Many clubs that are hoping to contend come September rely on a superstar to stay healthy. This could be Stephen Strasburg, Red Sox lefty Chris Sale or Trout.
Joe Maddon, Angels manager, has stated repeatedly since Trout’s downfall that the rest of the team needs to keep going until the three-time MVP is back for the final stretch.
Trout injured his right calf on May 17, and was expected to remain sidelined for 6-8 weeks. Trout is eligible to be taken off the 60-day injury list Saturday when the Angels host Seattle for their second game following the break.
Maddon stated, “It’s going be interesting to get them back with all of the growth that has occurred within this team.”
In the Giants’ instance, getting players back from injuries can have an impact on how San Francisco approaches trade deadline. Infielder Tommy La Stella, first baseman Brandon Belt and third baseman Evan Longoria are all in rehab and should be back this month. Posey is currently recovering from a bruised thumb.
“We love our team. Zaidi stated that the team’s pieces fit well together. “We have the best clubhouse team chemistry I’ve ever seen and it’s fun to talk about the moves. However, even though it makes sense on paper, there is an immediate impact on the clubhouse dynamic of bringing in new members.
Other injured players who could make a significant impact in the final 2 1/2 months include Eloy Jimenez, outfielder Luis Robert, and Noah Syndergaard, Mets pitchers with the AL Central-leading White Sox. Also, Mets pitchers Noah Syndergaard, Carlos Carrasco and Mets World Series MVP Corey Seager, pitchers Tyler Glasnow, Chris Archer, and Shane Bieber, both of whom are pitchers for the Rays.
What number of no-hitters could we expect to see in the second part?
This year’s no-hitters were San Diego’s Joe Musgrove (April 9,), Carlos Rodon (April 14,), Baltimore’s John Means, May 5, Cincinnati’s Wade Miley and Detroit’s Spencer Turnbull (May 17), respectively. The New York Yankees’ Corey Kluber (May 19,) was the New York Yankees’ Corey Kluber (May 19), while the Chicago Cubs threw a combined no-hitter on June 24,
Madison Bumgarner from Arizona pitched seven innings without a hit in a doubleheader that took place on April 25, but was not considered a no-hitter.
AND THE PRIZE GOES TO…
Guerrero could add more hardware to the season’s end — provided he can keep up with Ohtani. Both of them look to be front-runners in the race for AL MVP. The Blue Jays’ slugger, aged 22, leads the league in RBIs (73) and average (.332), putting him in contention to win the Triple Crown.
Tatis is now the NL MVP, with Ronald Acuna Jr. being out the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Tatis has 28 homers and 20 stolen bases. He also has 60 RBIs.
DeGrom is close to winning his third NL Cy Young Award. DeGrom’s own health issues are more likely to stop him than any other pitcher. It is harder to choose a favorite in AL — Cole or White Sox teammates Lance Lynn or Rodon.