Friends recommended watching “Schitt’s Creek” but for a while I couldn’t get there with it. Despite a great cast, starring Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, the first season was somewhat awkward and unpleasant. Everyone seemed to be working too hard.
But like a real pro (sitting on the couch and eating cookies) I ended up with “Schitt’s Creek” and I’m glad I did. The characters developed in a likable way and started playing each other perfectly. When the sitcom’s sixth and final season basically swept the Emmys in 2020, I was delighted with the band of misfits that came together to become the winner.
That kind of thing happens all the time in baseball, so it’s never wise to fully count a team with a lot of talent until or unless math does it for us.
So far, by 2022, there are five teams that are widely known as contenders who have collapsed for one reason or another. All five of these teams entered the weekend with records of being excluded from the playoffs at the end of the season.
But the season is not over. So, what kind of TV program can these five teams make and come together? let’s discuss
That situation: The South Siders entered as the clear favorite to repeat in American League Central in 2022. However, their roster was ambushed early with injuries and the Twins did well enough to take first place. Lance Lynn’s absence further accentuated Dallas Keuchel’s 6.86 ERA, the bullpen allowed a lot of traffic (1.38 WHIP) and the offense lacked dumping (0.354 SLG, MLB 24th).
Reasons for optimism: We recently saw third baseman Yoán Moncada and relief pitcher Joe Kelly return from IL and Luis Robert come back from base after a slow start that included a groin injury. Michael Kopech transitioned smoothly into the rotation (0.93 ERA in 6 starts) and Lynn will be back soon from knee problems. As the Sox gets healthy, the relievers take their place in their expected roles, and the bats reach their optimum levels, there’s no reason not to join the Twins team who still have to prove their durability.
Reasons for skepticism: Eloy Jimenez’s torn right hamstring keeps him going for the foreseeable future, affecting the shape of the lineup. Liam Hendriks has had an unusually erratic season so far, and if he isn’t his dominant ego, it’s affecting the shape of his ‘pen’. Sox’s biggest problem is that if injury bugs keep biting all year round, or if important parts are underperforming, the farm system may not have the depth to make a positive impact through call-ups or mid-season trades.
That situation: The defending champions have lost 3 of their first 5 games of the season and haven’t gone over 0.500 since. The struggles of veteran starter Charlie Morton (5.65 ERA, 76+ ERA) hampered the rotation, while outfielders Marcel Ozna, Adam Duvall and shortstop Danmby Swanson were among the NL’s worst regulars. While the Mets have soared to the top spot in the National League East, the Braves are disappointingly in the middle in runs conceded per game (4.15, tied 14th in MLB) and allowed per game (4.48, ranked 23rd in MLB).
Reasons for optimism: Ronald Acuña Jr. made a quicker-than-expected return from a horrific right knee injury and gave an immediate impact despite a recent groin injury (.282/.391/.487 slashes). According to the expected statistics, Ozuna, Duvall, Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies and Swanson all had bad luck. In fact, the difference between the Braves’ slugging percentage (.398) and expected SLG (.493) is the largest of any NL team. Morton has a long track record of positively contributing to the cycle where Max Fried continues to grow into an ace and Kyle Wright provides a boost. The bullpen looked good on paper and worked really well. It is ranked 10th in WHIP (1.17) in MLB and 7th in average (.214). The Braves proved last year that they can get off to a sluggish start.
Reasons for skepticism: It was one thing for the Braves to return to the top of the NL East in 2021, the most disappointing division in baseball. But the Mets got more this year. If Morton is washed out or the rotation needs another fix and the attack doesn’t go on, GM Alex Anthopoulos may also be too much to fix the figure that will be the seller’s trading market.
That situation: The feel of the recent vintage is proof that they can’t make it to the playoffs. They have the second longest postseason drought in MLB and the longest in the National League. With Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber bolstering their lineup around NL MVP Bryce Harper, Philadelphia is poised to compete this year. However, Harper, although productive, is playing limited to DH missions due to a right elbow UCL rupture on a team that already has many DH types. And the pitching team ranked 22nd in the Major League Baseball ERA (3.97) over the weekend.
Reasons for optimism: Offensive is one of the best in baseball by metric (0.747 OPS, 2nd in MLB), but struggles with runners in scoring positions (0.714 OPS, 19th in MLB). A positive regression to the mean for a very good bat collection will help the Phillies improve their sluggish record in a one-point game. The pitching team is performing better than the raw ERA (and particularly noteworthy explosions against the Mets) suggests. Some key members of the staff include rotation lynchpins Zack Wheeler (3.15 vs. 4.26), Aaron Nola (2.51 vs. 3.83), Zach Eflin (2.76 vs. 4.50), and bullpen arm José Alvarado (2.76 vs. 4.50). Estimated defense is better than raw armor. 3.24 vs 7.45).
Reasons for skepticism: Harper’s injury, which won’t go away anytime soon, won’t affect his swing, but it does have a significant impact on how his daily lineup is structured. Defense wasn’t expected to be good, well, it wasn’t (9 defense runs saved). That doesn’t help a team that doesn’t have much room for error.
That situation: After the 90-win club last year finished just two games from qualifying for the playoffs and made big moves for AL Cy Young winners Robbie Ray, Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez, the Mariners are poised to make a real leap forward in the AL West title. It looked. . Alas, it’s the Angels who have skyrocketed to compete with the Astros and the M’s have been on a long punk streak over the past two and a half weeks.
Reasons for optimism: The team is off to a promising 11-6 start, so there’s no need to squint too hard to see them return to that level for the stretch they lasted this summer. The highly rated rookie Julio Rodriguez appears to be on base (.311/.363/.432 slashes since April 22), and Winker (estimated weighted on-base percentage of .371 vs. actual wOBA .276), according to advanced stats). Ty France and JP Crawford will overturn this to bolster their thriving lineup. Young George Kirby and Logan Gilbert both showed their potential in the rotation. Last year’s squad had a 4-11 record in mid-May, while the rest were 68-46. This team can completely shake off a similar run.
Reasons for skepticism: Start with a Ray that pitched better in the last start, but still has an overpowering basic advanced metric. If he’s not right (and if Gilbert’s early success is undermined by increased walks), does the Mariners have a pitch that would be a serious contender? It’s also shocking to see the highly regarded Jarred Kelenic continue to struggle at the plate. And he is now selected for Triple-A. And the Mariners lack reinforcements as Mitch Haniger has been out for months with a right high ankle sprain and Kyle Lewis isn’t expected to return for weeks at the earliest. Unfortunately, the team that has suffered the longest postseason drought in North American professional sports has a lot to prove, but so far the M’s haven’t been able to prove it.
That situation: The Boston team, which had only 2 wins and 1 loss in last year’s World Series, now has the record of being among the rubble of the Major League Baseball (MLB). The roster hasn’t undergone a major overhaul since last year, and Sox did a great job signing Trevor Story, but the lineup was sluggish, Chris Sale wasn’t in the rotation and the ninth was a mess.
Reasons for optimism: The offense was performed by Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and JD Martinez, all with OPS+ scores over 40% above the league average. When the Red Sox add up their league average attacks from six different points in sequence, it’s a completely different team. There could be options within the system in the form of outfielder Jaren Duran and first baseman Triston Casas to improve the lineup depth, and perhaps the story could turn it around after a terrifying start. The Boston bullpen is a mess, but we’ve seen other clubs fix their ‘pen’ on the fly. Sale and James Paxton will eventually return from injury to provide the desperately needed rotation innings.
Reasons for skepticism: math. The Red Sox have resumed their 5 1/2 as well as 12 games in the brutal AL East, and it’s a wild card race that will continue to be crowded. The Red Sox are chasing the club deeper and with fewer questions. And delaying Sale from recovering from a rib injury due to personal health issues doesn’t help their cause. A rough start to the story and an unresolved contract problem for Bogart are sweeping the club considerably.