Colorado Rockies’ Right-fielder Michael Cuddyer recorded a hit in his 27th-straight game yesterday in a 5-2 loss to division-rival San Francisco at home in Denver. The 27-straight is a team record for the Rockies as is another record Cuddyer is currently extending on a daily basis. He has also reached base in 45 consecutive games which again qualifies as a team record.
Cuddyer is batting .344 right now with an OPS of .983 which is almost 200 points higher than his career OPS. Not too shabby for a 34-year old in his 12th season of Major League Baseball.
Right now, Cuddyer might not even be the biggest story in the National League West as LA Dodgers’ rookie Yasiel Puig continues his torrid pace since joining them over the last month. The youngster went 4 for 5 and scored two runs in the team’s 6-1 win over Philadelphia yesterday and is now batting .436.
What both of these guys are doing is helping to make the NL West into the tightest division race in baseball.
The Arizona Diamondbacks lead the West by two games over the Rockies, 2.5 over San Diego, three over the Giants and four ahead of the Dodgers. While we can sing the praises of the division being the tightest in baseball, we must also remember that only the D-Backs are over .500. Compared to what is going on over in the National League Central where the top three teams are 21, 17 and 10 games over .500 respectively.
Certainly the Giants, the defending World Series Champions, were thought to be in the thick of the race as we enter July and Arizona as well. With the depth of their pitching going into the season, many experts had the Dodgers coming out on top but they’ve been riddled with injuries and will be without Josh Beckett all season or so it looks this morning.
The surprises to this point have to be the Padres and the Rockies. While not shockingly the Rockies are near the top in the National League in hitting in the number two spot, the Padres are a surprising sixth. Where the two teams are lacking is in the pitching department. Colorado is 13th while the San Diego is 12th.
If these two are going to have any staying power over the final three months then that pitching has to improve even a little. Despite the injuries, the Dodgers have the division’s best overall pitching as they are ranked sixth in the NL. Arizona is seventh and San Francisco is eighth.
At the end of this month is the Major League Baseball trade deadline. Yes, teams can still grab players after the 31st who clear waivers but the deadline is where we most often expect the big moves to be made. I expect the five teams to all make serious plays for changes at the deadline and whether those actually turn into big moves will remain to be seen.
The Chicago White Sox announced they will be willing to move just about anyone and the D-Backs and Giants are rumored to be looking into outfielder Alex Rios according to mlbtraderumors.com. Obviously both teams could use his bat in their line-ups. The website also reported that the Rockies are looking to add pitching but aren’t willing to give up top prospects if the move brings just a ‘rental.’
I’ve said all along that I believe the Dodgers will find a way to grab the division despite being four games out right now. Puig will cool off but the pitching should remain good and I just don’t see Colorado and San Diego hanging in through the summer. The The Giants and D-Backs are the wild-cards simply because of the potential moves they, and the Dodgers could make at the deadline.