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AL Central Update

By Jake Lunemann

We have now wrapped up April and May and it is well overdue for another update on the AL Central race. In about 20 days we will officially be halfway through the season and it is getting near that time when teams start making moves.

  1. Detroit Tigers: The Tigers have been off to the start that everyone expected of them last year. There are the usual suspects that are playing well like Miguel Cabrera but others such as Adam Everett are playing so far over their head the fallout will come hard and fast. We can expect Everett's batting average to drop about 40 points in the next month or two. The starting pitchers have been amazing or terrible and nothing in between. Justin Verlander has 90 strikeouts in just less than 70 innings pitched and Edwin Jackson has been performing better than even the Tigers could have expected. On the other hand Dontrelle Willis has returned from his anxiety disorder and has pitched average in some games and below average in others. He is not striking anyone out anymore and he will be an innings eater at best if he cannot bring that back. Armando Galarraga is about to lose his spot in the rotation and his replacement is less than obvious. One potential option is Jeremy Bonderman who has been on a rehab assignment but personally I am not very optimistic about him being any better than Willis. The Tigers are in this race for the long haul but they definitely have some issues that will need to be addressed if they want to win this division.
  2. Chicago White Sox: The White Sox have been playing well the last couple weeks and it has brought them as high as second place in the division. Their bullpen has been pitching extremely well. So well in fact, that they will be likely to fall off throughout the rest of the season. Other than Bobby Jenks and Matt Thorton I do not believe what we have seen so far from DJ Carrasco, Scott Linebrink, and Octavio Dotel. Carlos Quintin just went on the disabled list but the way he had been playing I am sure not too many people are missing his "performance." Josh Fields on the other hand has people wishing they had held onto Joe Crede with the way he has been playing. Their starters have been pitching well enough with the exception of Gavin Floyd who will be out of the rotation within a few weeks.
    The White Sox are a team that is very old and needs to stay incredibly healthy to stay in this race.
  3. Minnesota Twins: The news has not come out as of the writing of this article but it is almost for certain that Joe Mauer will be named player of the month for May. He has been on an absolute tear since he hit the first pitch he saw for a home run. His performance has overshadowed the incredible play of former MVP Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, and Denard Span. On top of these performances Joe Crede has also been heating up lately after a slow start in April. Hopefully his back stays healthy because he is a big part of the Twins offense. In his first two starts Anthony Swarzak has pitched very well in place of injured Glen Perkins and most likely will keep his rotation spot when Perkins comes off the DL. My guess is that Francisco Liriano will be making another trip back to AAA or at the very least to the bullpen. Scott Baker has also put up some ugly numbers but he has at least shown some signs of pulling it together. He seems to have one bad inning that ruins an otherwise good start. The Twins definitely have holes but should finish in the top two of the division at the very least. The Tigers are their real competition so look to their head to head matchups for some real entertainment.
  4. Kansas City Royals: After a fast start the Royals have come back to earth in the past month. Zack Greinke was the name at the beginning of the season and he still is now. He has been one of the top three pitchers in baseball so far and does not look to be slowing down. The rest of the rotation however has not been what they hoped it would be. Brian Bannister has pitched quite well and he should be a quality #3 of #4 starter for the next few years. Gil Meche has been knocked around as of late but he also started slow last year and rebounded to have a good year. The other two rotation spots have been filled by the likes of Kyle Davies, Sidney Ponson, Luke Hochevar, and Horacio Ramirez. Davies will probably stick for the remainder of the season but the rest of those names do not excite anybody. At some point this year the Royals will probably give the job to Hochevar for good and cut ties with Sir Sidney. The Royals should stay competitive throughout the year. Look for them to finish in 3rd place in the division.
  5. Cleveland Indians: In my first AL Central update six weeks ago I said that everybody except Masa Kobayashi had pitched terribly. Since then, the Indians bullpen has continued to pitch poorly and Kobayashi has pitched worse than every single one of them. Other than Cliff Lee this team does not have one single reliable pitcher. If the Indians do decide to trade Lee this could be a train wreck of a team for the remainder of the season. The only thing getting the Indians wins is their offense which has performed very well for the most part. In fact, if outfielder Grady Sizemore had been producing they could arguably be one of the best offenses in the American League. Look for the Indians to be sellers in the trade market in the very near future and for them to finish last in the AL Central.

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