Roy Halladay

Your Monday Morning Power Rankings


The rain really messed with stuff last week. There were so many close calls on the rankings that would have been way easier to make if there was one more game in a given series, but a ton of teams had a game — or two — scratched.  Oh well. April showers and all of that. Anyway:

1. Phillies (2): I had a hard time deciding whether to knock the Rockies to number two and elevate the Phillies to the top spot. Yeah, it was a bit of a rough week for the Rockies, but they were facing the world champs and the hot Marlins. It was likewise a great weekend for the Phillies but, dudes, it was the Padres. And the Phillies are still struggling offensively. At the moment I tend to think that each of these teams are strong yet imperfect, and I believe that the differences between them are pretty small from an overall Power Rankings perspective. But ultimately I think the Phillies are better suited for the long haul of the season and, for the moment, that will serve as a tie-breaker.

2. Rockies (1): See above.

3. Yankees (6): An off day and a postponement made for a short week, but at their age they can use the time off.

4. Rangers (3): Neftali Feliz on the DL is bad news. If Ron Washington’s usual bullpen preferences win out, Feliz will be replaced by a bullpen-by-committee featuring C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison.

5. Marlins (9): Hanley Ramirez continues to struggle, but the Feesh are doing just fine without his contributions at the moment.

6. Indians (4): Because I’m often too lazy to actually log on to, I end up watching more Indians games than anyone else’s. And I gotta admit: they’ve been fun to watch. Even if the winning doesn’t keep up — which I don’t think it will — it’s been great to watch the development of Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera as well as a resurgent Grady Sizemore.  It’s just an interesting team to watch, which I didn’t anticipate before the season began.

7. Royals (4): Kila Ka’aihue is struggling. Meanwhile, Eric Hosmer is hitting .380 as a 21 year-old in his first go-around at AAA.  You don’t need to be a MacArthur Grant recipient in order to have the sort of creativity required to solve this predicament.

8. Angels (8): I assume the bad series against the Red Sox is a form of mourning for the departure of Brandon Wood.

9. Cardinals (10): The bullpen is still a problem, but taking two of three from the rival Reds is a nice pick-me-up.

10. Brewers (12): Two of three from Philly, two of three from Houston and their star left fielder locked up for a decade. Not a bad week.

11. Reds (7): Miguel Cairo steps in for Scott Rolen for a couple of weeks. I always want to mock when Cairo gets more playing time than he deserves — which seems to happen a lot — but then he does stuff like hit the go-ahead RBI on Saturday night. And it’s not like Rolen was tearing up the pea patch or anything.

12. Tigers (19): I’ve moved them up a lot because they’ve won, but let’s keep in mind that the wins this past week came against the bottom two teams in our Power Rankings.

13.  Giants (11): Brian Wilson’s ERA is 9.82.

14. Rays (18): Hard to find a pitcher who had a better week than James Shields.

15. Blue Jays (13): If there were any illusions on the part of Jays fans about their team’s prospects of challenging in the East, they can look back at the last week and change and note that they lost three of four to Boston, split two with the Yankees and lost two of three to Tampa Bay. No, they aren’t there yet.

16. Dodgers (24): The Dodgers have taken well to being wards of the state, taking three of four from Atlanta and two of three from the Cubs.

17. Athletics (15): The two losses against the Mariners may seem bad on the surface, but they came against Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda. There are a lot of teams that are going to go through that experience over the next couple of years.

18. Red Sox (29): Winners of eight of ten including five straight on the road, with most of those wins coming in convincing fashion.  Yeah, I think the Red Sox are gonna be just fine.

19. Braves (17): Are they the listless and feeble team that got pwned by the Dodgers early last week or are they the explosive and opportunistic team that swept the defending world champs in San Francisco over the weekend?

20. Cubs (16): They may have looked OK against the punchless Padres, but they gave up 27 runs in three games to the Dodgers.

21. Nationals (21): Another team with two postponements in the past week. I sure hope the makeup games don’t end up tiring out the pitching staff before the playoffs begin.

22. Pirates (22): The Pirates got creamed by the Marlins early in the week. They bounced back nicely, however, when a random fan wearing a Pirates shirt was sitting along the left field line at Busch Stadium during last night’s Reds-Cardinals game, got a foul ball and then proceeded to thump his chest and yell “Pirates rule!”  The fire still burns inside for some fans.

23. Mets (27): Four wins in a row for the Mets, an off day today and a week in which the biggest gloomy off-the-field news did not involve them. Ya think they’ll get one day without anyone in the press slamming them?

24. Diamondbacks (25): They get three at home against Philly starting tonight. Except they’re flying back from New York while Philly was in San Diego, chilling on Pacific time and likely relaxing in Phoenix before the Dbacks were. Probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but I always wonder what about a home game makes it the most advantageous for the players. The beds they sleep in? Travel fatigue? Crowd? Familiar surroundings?

25. Orioles (20): Well, I guess it was a better week than the week they had before. But man, not good. 21 runs given up to the Yankees in two days.

26. Twins (28): My kids’ school sends home letters when epidemics of various stripes are floating around. Strep throat, head lice, that sort of thing. With all that has ailed the Twins so far this year I suppose their moms are getting the same sorts of letters. But hey, three wins in a row suggest that maybe things are looking up.

27. Astros (26): No one has given up more runs than the Astros have (123).

28. Padres (23): No one has scored fewer runs than the Padres have (63).

29. White Sox (14): They’ve lost 10 of 11 and have tumbled down the Power Rankings accordingly.

30. Mariners (30): They have the worst record and the worst run differential in baseball. They’ve earned this.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.