81 wins for a team means they are assured they can finish no worse than .500. However, if you have 80 wins in August, you’ll finish above .500, guaranteed. You’ll most likely make the playoffs, too. Of course, barring catastrophic injuries or a strike.
On the radio, Tom Kent brought us back into the 80s on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night, dependent on where you are in the nation and what radio station you listen to. For me, it was Saturday night. In 2019, I bring you back into the 80s, by breaking down the teams that reach 80 wins. We had two that reached that mark last night. Let’s get to work.
The New York Yankees
Are a machine, and their 80-41 record proves just that. On pace for 107 wins, the Yankees have done a lot more than relying on Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton to provide their power. If they’d have done that, their record could stand at 41-80 right now as both Judge and Stanton have been hurt.
It’s been the power of DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela that have stepped in. Each has hit at least 18 homers. Each is batting at least .283 (in fact, Torres is weighing down that stat, LeMahieu is batting .337, Urshela .336). Also, Mike Tauchman and Brett Gardner have played pivotal roles inside and outside the clubhouse to keep the momentum rolling, despite all the injuries.
Yankee Stadium, of course, is known for all the home runs hit over the years. The team is called, “The Bronx Bombers” for a reason. But, the pitching has also been a story of 2019. The starters’ combined ERA is 4.66. This also accounts for Chad Green filling in for CC Sabathia while on the IL. This may seem high, but let’s also account for Yankee Stadium. There, Coors Field and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington yield high home run rates, which is fun for our @theriot326 and other DFS players (like me!). But, this is not fun for pitching.
Domingo German has 16 wins. J.A. Happ has 9 wins. James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka each have 8. Wins don’t mean a lot in terms of Cy Young and MVP race, but this tells us that the team is adjusting to the high home-run rate. The ERA isn’t indicative of how good or bad these pitchers actually are, due to the stadium they play in.
In the Pen, where the ERA really matters, the average is 2.67. (Without Green, add Luis Cessa). In today’s MLB, a lockdown 7th, 8th and 9th inning is key to getting out with a win. For the Yankees, Adam Ottavino, Zach Britton and Aroldis Chapman have effectively locked down those innings. If they stay hot, the Yankees could represent the American League in this year’s World Series.
Now, for the team that joined the 80s club just 30 minutes after the Yankees.
The Los Angeles Dodgers
Are also a machine. At 80-41, they and the Yankees are chasing who will represent home field in the World Series… if they make it that far. Unlike the Yankees, the Dodgers have been blessed by good health and a deep bench.
Without a doubt, Cody Bellinger has had the best season out of the group. With a .316 average and 39 home runs, he’s replaced the pop in the bat that Manny Machado gave the team for three months. It’s also beneficial that Machado’s replacement, Corey Seager, is healthy. While .265 and 49 RBIs doesn’t necessarily replace Machado, he at least doesn’t have attitude issues, that Machado sometimes has.
Justin Turner and Will Smith, the NEW “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” have also contributed greatly to the machine that is the Dodgers. Batting .288 and .324, respectively, it seems as if when one bat gets cold, another gets hot. We saw that in Miami last night. Will Smith, Welcome to Miami!
Now, a surprise of the Trade Deadline was that the Dodgers didn’t add any help to the back of the Bullpen. With an ERA of 3.60, it seems like the Dodgers needed one more pitcher to get over the World Series hump that has dawned on them the last three seasons. However, the rotation is putting in great work. With an ERA of 2.81, the Dodger rotation is among the very best in Baseball.
Hyun-Jin Ryu is on his way to a Cy Young award with a 1.45 ERA. The question for him, besides “Will he stay healthy?” is, “Can he challenge Bob Gibson‘s 1.12 ERA in 1968 with a lower mound?”, the answer right now is that he has a chance. Will he actually do it? Unlikely. But, challenging that record is phenomenal in today’s MLB. I’ve said it in previous articles and I’ll say it again, any time that Clayton Kershaw is an afterthought in your rotation means that your rotation is great.
Also, the pitcher the Dodgers may have been looking for could fall in their system. Dustin May (AKA Gingergaard), has impressed in his first few starts in Chavez Ravine. With a 2.65 ERA, he’s helped fill the void for Rich Hill‘s injury. Needless to say, if the Dodgers make it to a third straight World Series, their pitching will be ready to face the challenge.
Continuing this series
As more and more teams hit 80 wins, more and more articles will be developed by yours truly breaking down the teams. This will be a fascinating Pennant Race, as we go further “Into the 80s with Tom Greene!”
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