As the first half of the MLB season draws to a close and allows us to reflect on what took place, fans can now get even more excited about the stretch run of the MLB season.
The first half of the season separates the good teams from the bad and presents a clearer picture of who might contend for the postseason. When the second half rolls around, great players and teams step forward and stand out from everyone else.
This is the time of year when the temperatures heat up and the pressure intensifies for general managers, coaches and players. The All-Star break might provide a brief rest, but the real season is about to begin.
Here are the 10 biggest storylines for the second half of MLB’s season.
New York Yankees in position to dominate
Despite dealing with myriad injuries to multiple stars, the Yankees fought their way to finish the first half with the best record in the American League. Now with a sizable lead in the AL East and its stars getting health, New York is in great position to be even better in the second half.
A deep farm system allows New York to land a front-line starting pitcher at the trade deadline, which will only strengthen a great team. This is a team more than capable of winning a World Series. It now just needs to follow through and improve its odds with some deadline moves and good health.
Cody Bellinger’s Triple Crown pursuit
While Mike Trout is the best player in baseball, his counterpart in Los Angeles is quickly making a case for a special crown. The 23-year-old is in the midst of an incredible MVP campaign and currently ranks second in home runs, RBI and batting average in the National League.
The conversation is beyond Bellinger being the favorite for the MVP at this point. If the Dodgers continue to dominate and Bellinger maintains his pace, he can win the Triple Crown.
Big names available at the MLB trade deadline
By creating a single trade deadline on July 31, MLB opens the door for a flood of activity that can change the landscape of MLB. When the likes of front-line starting pitchers Madison Bumgarner, Matthew Boyd and Marcus Stroman could all be moved at the deadline.
Add in the plethora of high-end relievers and hitters that could move this month and it leads to some exciting possibilities for the remainder of the season. This is crunch time for general managers as one move could be the difference in a playoff run.
Will the New York Mets remain a dumpster fire?
When the Mets aren’t threatening reporters or being an utter disaster on the diamond, they find new ways to add fuel to the dumpster fire. The blockbuster offseason deal for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano is already a disaster and even Tim Tebow isn’t drawing in fans in the minors.
New York clearly isn’t going to fire Brodie Van Wagenen in his first year as general manager. While skipper Mickey Callaway’s days should be numbered, it’s going to take a dramatic overhaul to put out this fire and stop being the joke of New York.
Marquee managers on the hot seat
In a year when the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs entered with high expectations and plenty of talent, Gabe Kapler and Joe Maddon now might find themselves on the hot seat.
Philadelphia spent heavily during the offseason, but it’s quickly losing ground in the standings and Kapler may not survive another collapse. Maddon is in the last year of his contract on a club that is falling short of expectations, which is a dangerous combo if he wants to stay in Chicago.
Juiced baseballs keep inflating numbers
While the league might deny it, juiced baseballs are back and the impact can even be seen at the Triple-A level. Home runs are rapidly on the rise and it has led to jaw-dropping home run totals this season. MLB will likely make a change in the offseason, but the juiced baseballs will likely hang around for the rest of 2019 and fans can enjoy some insane stats for their fantasy teams.
Will the Los Angeles Dodgers maintain their dominance?
Los Angeles will coast to an NL West title and seems poised to safely finish with the best record in the league. This team is firing on all cylinders with a loaded lineup and pitching staff. It could even make a few small additions to the bullpen at the trade deadline. Ultimately, the biggest question that lingers is if the Dodgers can maintain their dominance through the World Series. That has not happened in recent seasons.
Bryce Harper’s rough year in Philadelphia
In the first season of his 13-year, $330 million deal, things are already looking bad for Harper and the Phillies. The 26-year-old ranks fourth in strikeouts (105) and ranks 57th in OPS (.843). He didn’t even come close to an All-Star spot. The Phillies desperately need a spark right now and if their $30 million outfielder can’t provide it, it will cause a lot of doubt from Philadelphia’s fan base for years to come.
Young stars continue to steal the show
Fans live in an incredible time with the emergence of future perennial All-Star sluggers quickly proving themselves this season. Pete Alonso could break Aaron Judge’s rookie home run record and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr. looks like a future MVP candidate.
MLB’s bright future is even greater with the emergence of Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada in Chicago. It’s a young man’s game right now and even more talent could be coming to the majors in the weeks and months ahead.
Will the Boston Red Sox make the playoffs?
It’s time for Boston to move on from any real contention for the AL East and simply hope it can grab a wild-card spot. The Red Sox failed to address the bullpen this offseason and now are pushing Nathan Eovaldi into the bullpen. Given how thin Boston’s farm system is and its lack of payroll flexibility, making the necessary upgrades to compete for a playoff spot could be difficult for the reigning champs.