Baseball’s Second Half: Scenarios for the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets |

At the start of the baseball season, the generally cordial relationship between the Yankees and their franchise player, Aaron Judge, became strained under the stress of contract negotiations.

The judge turned down a big offer and opted to “bet on himself”, the key phrase, and so far he’s winning. The Yankees too.

With its monster season, 33 homers at the All-Star break and a few upsets, a revamped Yankees team has the best record in baseball and, until recently, maintained the scorching pace set by their 1998 predecessors, who won a record 125 regular and playoff games.

Across town, the new Mets manager has proven himself to be a wise old man. Buck Showalter, 66, immediately earned the respect of his players and brought professionalism and edge to the Mets. When their top pitchers, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, the combination that fueled their preseason optimism, were absent, the Mets held on to the top spot despite a long hot streak from world champion Braves.

The Mets have passed every test so far.

In Boston, the Red Sox floundered early, then went 19-5 in June, but still failed to gain ground on the Yankees in the AL East. Now 17 in the loss column, there is little hope for a division title race, but the Red Sox are in the thick of the wildcard race, and with three spots available, they could get their crack in October s they can get and keep their key pitchers healthy.

It’s baseball for the second half of 2022, with Connecticut fans watching intently night after night, making an emotional investment for a playoff win.

But there’s about 45% of the regular season left to play as the all-star break ends and the trade deadline (August 2) approaches. Here is the situation, the outlook and some intrigue for the teams in the zone:

Yankees: Peak performance?

The record: 64-28, first place in AL East by 13 games.

The situation: After starting 7-6, the Yankees have won 11 straight and haven’t looked back. They were 52-18 after beating the Astros on June 23. Despite losing three of five games to Houston and dropping a series to the Reds, the Yankees ended the pre-All-Star era with two resounding wins over Boston. Although every team in the AL East is .500 or better, the Yankees are 30-15 in divisional play.

The stats: The Yankees lead the majors in runs scored (497) and home runs (157), and they’re second to the Dodgers in runs allowed, 298.

The Stars: While Judge is well positioned to chase Roger Maris’ team and the league record 61 homers, All Star Game MVP Giancarlo Stanton (24) and Anthony Rizzo (22) have big seasons. Gerrit Cole is 9-2, with a 3.02 ERA in 19 starts.

The surprises: Starter Nestor Cortes (7-3, 2.63 ERA), receiver Jose Trevino and closest Clay Holmes (4-1, 16 saves, 1.61) were All-Stars no one has seen it coming, but the biggest shocker of all is Matt Carpenter. Thought to be washed, he was saved from the minor leagues and delivered 13 home runs and 34 RBIs in 13 games.

The threat: If the Yankees are unassailable in the East, the Astros, who knocked them out in the 2017 and 2019 playoffs, run away with the West and are only 4 ½ behind the Yankees for better record and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

By Deadline: With Luis Severino injured and the bullpen showing signs of fatigue, the Yankees could use a starter or a reliever. They could offload struggling Joey Gallo and look for a left-handed outfielder. Could Michael Conforto be ready to help as a free agent by signing in September?

Circle the calendar: A doubleheader in Houston on Thursday is another chance for the Yankees to quiet down the Astros-have-their-number talk.

The bottom line: The Yankees haven’t won the World Series since 2009, and with their record as it stands, there will be intense pressure to deliver in October. The 1998 Yankees handled that pressure, what about 2022? Did they peak too early?

Mets: Incredible summer and fall?

The record: 58-35, first in NL East by 2 ½

The situation: The Mets have won their first three games and nine of their first 12, setting the tone. As of June 1, they were 35-17 and led the division by 10½ games. The Phillies and then the Braves turned red and closed the gap, but taking a series in Atlanta last week kept the Mets in first place.

The stats: The Mets have 92 homers in the middle of the pack, but are fourth in the majors with 437 runs scored. Despite the injuries, their 3.61 ERA is tied with Atlanta just behind the NL Dodgers.

The stars: After a disappointing first season in New York, Francisco Lindor, with 16 home runs and 54 RBIs, looks more like the player he was in Cleveland. Pete Alonso didn’t win the Home Run Derby for a third straight year, but he hit 24 in real games for the Mets. Before and after his oblique tension, Scherzer (6-1, 2.22 ERA) threw like an ace. How do you like the trade for Edwin Diaz, 20 saves and 75 strikeouts in 37 ½ innings, now?

The upsets: DeGrom missing the entire season and Scherzer for six weeks strained the starting rotation, but Chris Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson and Taijuan Walker are combined 29-14.

The threat: The Braves are still lurking in the East, but if the Mets make it to the playoffs, either as division champions or wildcards, the ultimate team to beat will be the Dodgers (60-30).

Deadline: The Mets can use help from the bullpen and were recently linked to the Cubs’ David Robertson, a seasoned playoff arm. If and when the Nationals move young superstar Juan Soto, the Mets could be a team with the combination of young major leaguers and exciting prospects to win the toss.

Circle the calendar: The Subway Series games against the Yankees in Queens on July 26-27 and in the Bronx on August 22-23 will be absolutely insane.

The bottom line: If the Mets can recover from Grom (yes, a big if), they’ll have the strongest 1-2 starting punch for the short October series. Otherwise, they are still a formidable force in NL.

Red Sox: Never count ’em

The record: 48-45, fourth in AL East, two games behind Toronto for third place wild card.

The situation: The Red Sox were 10-19 on May 8, but surged, breaking even at 27-27 on June 5. After a frustrating month chasing the Yankees, the Red Sox missed a chance to gain ground, or at least make a statement, by losing four of seven in two series in July, as injuries forced them to use several non-starters. experienced.

The stats: The Red Sox, with 430 points, have little trouble scoring. They committed 50 errors, 19 more than Seattle, which leads the wild card and has the fewest in the majors, and allowed 40 unearned runs. To the naked eye, their defense looked worse than the numbers.

The stars: Rafael Devers, with 22 homers and 55 RBIs, was everything anyone could ask for. Xander Boegarts is hitting .316 and offseason big pick Trevor Story has 15 home runs and 58 RBIs.

The surprises: Rob Refsnyder, who has been bouncing around in the majors and minors for years, hits .338 since joining the Red Sox. Reliever John Schreiber (1.60 ERA) was one hell of a find.

The threat: The Red Sox are going to have to have a much higher second-half winning percentage to keep pace with the Rays, Blue Jays, Mariners, Guardians and, yes, even the Orioles.

Deadline: Chris Sale’s latest injury, a broken finger, will hold him back until September. In order for the Red Sox, whose playoff odds are currently calculated at 30.9%, to stay in the hunt for wild cards, they need a starting and relief pitching assist soon.

Circle on the schedule: Starting Friday, the Red Sox will play three against Toronto and four against Cleveland. They’ll be in the middle of a series in Houston at the trade deadline. They end the season with three in Toronto, where, if current Canadian policies remain in place, several unvaccinated key players could be a problem.

The bottom line: It just doesn’t look like a Red Sox year, but they’ve proven over the years that they shouldn’t be counted out. They shouldn’t mortgage the farm, but they’re close enough that it’s worth making marginal acquisitions to try and get into the wildcard, where anything can happen.

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