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  • Around the AL Central (5/27): Minnesota and Chicago Pulling Away

    Ted Schwerzler

    The AL Central was expected to be among the weaker divisions in baseball and so far that’s been accurate. With Minnesota the current favorite and Chicago trying to hold serve, everyone else has gone backwards. Only the top two teams have a winning record across their last ten games.

    Image courtesy of Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

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    The Standings:

    • Minnesota 27-18
    • Chicago 22-22
    • Cleveland 18-23
    • Detroit 16-28
    • Kansas City 15-28

    This week we saw the Tigers rip off a few wins and they’ve jumped the Royals to get out of the cellar in the division. Chicago is still treading water despite adding consistently to their negative run differential. Although the Twins have a lead in the division, they’ve dropped back-to-back games against Detroit and Kansas City rather than adding on.

    The Stories:
    Chicago signed reliever Joe Kelly this offseason to help bolster their relief corps. They moved on from Craig Kimbrel and having another high leverage arm to pair with Liam Hendriks sounded like a good idea. Unfortunately, he’s been injured and on Thursday Chicago placed him back on the IL with a left hamstring strain. Dallas Keuchel was brutalized against the Red Sox this week, and with an ERA over 7.00, it’s worth wondering how long they’ll continue to trot him out there. Tim Anderson had another consistent week at the dish and again looks zeroed in on a batting title. Obviously, there were disappointing storylines this week involving Anderson and former Twins third basemen Josh Donaldson. The Yankees' third baseman uttered disrespectful comments in what he called an inside joke, but no one seemed to get it but him.

    After dealing with Covid issues last week the Guardians were happy to have manager Terry Francona back in the dugout. Their coaching staff had been riddled with the virus having only pitching coach Carl Willis available to the team. On Thursday the club placed slugger Franmil Reyes on the injured list with right hamstring tightness. It’s unfortunate to see Cleveland struggle so mightily with much of it coming on the mound. Shane Bieber has regressed, Cal Quantrill looks uninspiring, and Triston McKenzie is spotty at best. Although things are bleak at the big league level, top prospect George Valera has been on a tear in May. He’s still at Double-A, but there’s no reason to rule out a 2022 debut.

    The Tigers are beginning to look at bit better and while Miguel Cabrera is once again batting .300, Javier Baez continues to provide little of substance. Manager A.J. Hinch was hoping to see big performances from his young players, and rookie Spencer Torkelson is starting to turn a corner. Going 7-for-22 during a recent road trip, Torkelson contributed three doubles and a homer. The batting average isn’t where you’d like to see it, but there are definitely positives to be seen here. Tarik Skubal continues to be the best arm in Detroit and his latest outing has his ERA sitting at a shiny 2.44. There’s a real reason to believe he could make the All-Star team this year, and his emergence as a staff ace is exciting for Tigers fans.

    Mike Matheny has seen his club trend backward the past week. They’ve gone just 3-7 over their last ten and the ugliest outing was giving up a six-run lead to the divisional rival Twins. Brewer Hicklen, a 7th-round pick from UAB, made his Major League debut on Thursday night against Minnesota. Top prospect M.J. Melendez had a nice game earlier in the week against Arizona and continues to fill in nicely for Salvador Perez. Regarded as Kansas City’s top prospect, his bat has played very well. Similar to Detroit, Kansas City is heavily reliant on youth right now and they’re going to take their lumps. Although Bobby Witt Jr. still isn’t hitting exceptionally well, he made an outstanding diving play at shortstop against the Twins on Thursday night.

    The Week Ahead:
    Minnesota continues to play through the AL Central for the rest of the month and during the first week of June. Three games remain at home against the Royals before heading to Detroit. The Twins play the Tigers five times in four days. The scheduled doubleheader was originally set to take place after the All-Star game but is now slated for Tuesday to close out the month.

    With a pair of off-days sprinkled in, Chicago gets a crosstown series with the Cubs before going north of the border to play the Blue Jays. They’ll eventually get an easier swing playing some of the Central opposition, but the beginning of June is brutal for them with matchups against the Rays and Dodgers.

    Cleveland flip flops with Minnesota as they finish playing in Detroit over the weekend and then welcome Kansas City for a three-game tilt next week. 



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    Still not convinced that the twins are in command. They certainly look like the best team in the division, but our bullpen and the lack of run production against our lousy divisional foes gives us plenty to concern ourselves with

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    46 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

    Still not convinced that the twins are in command. They certainly look like the best team in the division, but our bullpen and the lack of run production against our lousy divisional foes gives us plenty to concern ourselves with

    What am I missing. I looked at tonight's box score and at the bench and I don't see celestino.  Never mind I found the answer. Since I'm currently in New York with covid myself I understand how difficult it is to avoid this plague  I would consider bringing Lewis back up instead of another pitcher. 

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