Teams like the Nationals, Mariners, White Sox, Indians and Pirates have struggled to start the season. But some of those teams appear more likely to bounce back than others.
So we are now about 30 games into the 2015 baseball season, and those preseason playoff predictions? Well, some of those projected powers aren’t inspiring much confidence thus far.
And yes, it is early, much like the first 20 minutes of “The Godfather” or one chapter into “War and Peace.”
Still, there have been some disappointing showings from teams expected to be postseason, if not World Series, participants.
There are still 130-plus games to get there, but these first 25-30 games have exposed some warts and blemishes on teams, leaving fans scratching their heads and mildly panicking.
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The Nats were the consensus favorite to win the National League East and the World Series by most baseball “experts.” Blessed with the best starting rotation, featuring Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez, and a lineup with Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman, the Nats were supposed to roll through the season — a possible 100-win team.
But it hasn’t happened. Injuries to Rendon and Denard Span have hampered an offense that has basically revolved around Harper hitting home runs. Shortstop Ian Desmond leads the majors in errors with nine, the bullpen has yet to find a replacement for Tyler Clippard, and Jayson Werth is hitting under .200.
The Nationals were 7-13 following a loss on April 27 and have fought their way back above .500 after Saturday’s win. Their starting pitching is too good to let them falter. They should be fine.
Every season there’s a chic pick of a team that isn’t usually good, but is projected to find its way to the playoffs. In past years, it’s been the Royals or Pirates or Rays. This year it was the Mariners.
After going 87-75 last season and missing the playoffs by a game, the addition of Nelson Cruz and the returning core of players had people picking the Mariners. Instead, Seattle sputtered out of the gate with each facet of the game — starting pitching, bullpen, hitting, defense and baserunning.
The Mariners are the worst hitting team with runners in scoring position in the AL with a batting average hovering around .200 heading into Saturday. Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager are climbing out of minor slumps.
The low point was being swept by the Astros in Houston in a four-game series. Seattle came into this weekend’s homestand with an 11-17 record and in last place in the AL West. But with the Astros unlikely to play at their current level all season and the Angels struggling as well, Seattle hasn’t destroyed its hopes — yet.
Chicago White Sox
They went out and had a major roster overhaul, signing free agent closer David Robertson, outfielder Melky Cabrera and first baseman Adam LaRoche while trading for starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija. But as so often has been the case in baseball, major roster overhauls like that don’t lead to wins.
The rotation featuring Chris Sale (5.93) and Samardzija (4.38) has a collective 5.41 ERA in 25 starts with opponents hitting .290 with a .819 OPS against them.
With the exception of Jose Abreu, the team is devoid of power. Despite playing in hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field, the White Sox have hit 14 home runs coming into Saturday, which was tied for the same amount as Cruz. The team’s .344 slugging percentage is the worst in the American League, and its .644 OPS is second-worst.
Heck, the Cubs and their team full of rookies look more competent.
They’re the only reason why the White Sox aren’t the biggest disappointment in the American League. Picked by Sports Illustrated as a playoff team, the Indians have been awful this season.
Their starting pitching hasn’t been very good, their hitting has been inconsistent and the bullpen has been meh.
At 10-19, the Indians team in “Major League” had more hope.
Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber is 0-5 with a 5.04 ERA in seven starts. The Indians have also lost every game Kluber has started this season — not what you want from your staff ace.
They are getting little if any production from Jose Ramirez at shortstop and third baseman Lonnie Chisenall.
Cleveland is already 8½ games out of first in the AL Central. The Indians won’t make up that ground. They simply aren’t as good as the Royals and Tigers, who are vying for the top spot in the division.
A playoff participant the last two seasons, they seemed like a legitimate contender to challenge the Cardinals for the NL Central title. Instead, they are 14-16 and in fourth in the division, eight games out of first place.
Leading the National League with five walkoff losses doesn’t help their cause.
They are also near the bottom of the NL in batting average (.223), on-base percentage (.288) and slugging percentage (.347) heading into Saturday.
It doesn’t help when your best player and former NL MVP, Andrew McCutchen, entered Saturday hitting .219 with a .639 OPS and two everyday players — Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer — are batting under .200.
There is no catching the Cardinals. At best, the Pirates can hope for another wild-card spot for the third straight season.