As we go into the second half of the season, some teams look like they will run away with their division. The good news is there are still some races wide open. Let’s look at some division races to watch in the second half of the season.
(All odds via DraftKings)
Minnesota Twins (+110)
The Twins have had an incredible turnaround season after a huge disappointment in 2021. They made some moves in the offseason, including trading away Josh Donaldson to the Yankees. In return, they received Gio Urshela, a solid lower half, a great replacement, a third, and Gary Sanchez, who still has a ton of pop in his bat. They also bolstered the rotation with Chris Archer and Sonny Gray, who are both having tremendous seasons.
The White Sox have the better talent, but injuries and inconsistencies have them struggling to gain ground in this division. Both the pitching and hitting have struggled, and both sides have yet to get it going simultaneously. They will need to be buyers at the deadline to help each side, or else it could be a disappointing year for the Southsiders.
The same argument can be said for Cleveland. The Guardians have one of the better pitching staffs in the league, but often this offense has gone cold, and that’s why they’ve experienced several losing streaks.
Minnesota has brought consistency, and with the presence of veteran leadership and youth, they have the best chemistry and cohesive unit to win.
St. Louis Cardinals (+165)
The Cardinals provide one of the more balanced teams in the NL Central race. They have a lineup that can hit (fifth in the league in hits), draws walks (13th in walk rate), and rarely strikeouts (eighth in strikeout rate). You mix that with Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, who are both making cases in the NL MVP race, and they have a dangerous lineup.
The pitching staff has a ton of talent, especially the starting rotation. Miles Mikolas is having a season that’s on par with his 2018 all-star year; 40-year-old Adam Wainwright is looking ageless, and they’ve recently added Andre Pallante to replace the injured Dakota Hudson, who’s had some good starts. They should be a team that will look to add someone in the back of that rotation, and if they do, they’ll be solid.
The bullpen is proving to be one of the best as they sit tenth in ERA. The combination of Giovanny Gallegos and Ryan Helsley exchanging both being closers has worked well. They recently moved Jordan Hicks to the bullpen, and it’s been smart as he’s yet to allow a run in eight innings.
The Brewers will be their only competition in the central, but they do have some holes to fill if they want to get through the next couple of months. They have a great starting rotation with Corbin Burnes, Eric Lauer, and Brandon Woodruff, and of course, the bullpen led by Josh Hader, but the offensive is streaky. They possess a lineup full of pop but lack consistency, and that’s why they’re top 10 in slugging but 24th in batting average and BABIP. We’ve seen this lineup go cold and affect the team with a few extended losing streaks.
New York Mets (-190)
The Mets came right out of the gate with an incredible April and had a 10.5-game lead in NL East. They’ve played well in the last month and a half, but Atlanta and Philadelphia have played, and both look to compete for the division in the second half.
New York will have options in the rotation, especially when deGrom returns, while Scherzer has already come back and pitched well. They have Taijuan Walker, Chris Basset, David Peterson, and Carlos Carrasco all stepping up in Scherzer and deGrom’s absence, and it will be tough to decide who the odd man out is. There have been rumors of a possible six-man rotation that they may experiment with it going forward, giving these veteran arms an extra day of rest and saving them for October could be the smart move. They’re also set up well in the bullpen, with the nine-best ERA in the league and Edwin Diaz with 20 saves going into the break.
The offense is poised to excel as we get into the fall. A contact-based lineup, they’re top 10 in AVG, OBP, wRC+, BABIP, and strikeout rate.
Atlanta and Philadelphia will undoubtedly make this race close till the end, but the Mets have better pitching depth, and the offensive continues to stay consistent and doesn’t rely on strictly power to push across runs. They don’t strikeout, are not afraid to walk, and are all great contact hitters, and that type of lineup is poised always to play well.
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