American League Central News & Notes
The American League Central has been one of the weaker divisions in baseball over the past few seasons. However, it has been getting stronger as many of the teams are starting to become threats in the league.
Chicago White Sox
The current division leader is just over 2.5 games ahead of the next closest team with a record of 33-22. They finished with a record of 20-9 in the month of May with only 1 series lost. Shortstop Tim Anderson was one of the hottest hitters in the month of May with his 12-game hitting streak that was eventually snapped in a 4-5 loss to the Twins.
The most interesting thing we have seen from these White Sox has been their outstanding pitching staff during this month. Carlos Rodon, Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Dallas Kuechel have all been absolutely outstanding this month. They have all put up ERA numbers under the MLB average for this month.
Liam Hendricks is no doubt the best reliever on the staff and one of the best in the majors, and he proved it to everyone again as he is the recipient of the Reliever of the Month for May. He posted an amazing stat line of 11 and ⅔ innings pitched, striking out 19 and walking 2 players, and allowed 0 earned runs.
Currently second in the division with a record of 30-24 the Indians suffered a setback in the push for the division lead with a series loss to the White Sox last week. The main story for the offense this season has been the long ball. To begin the month, the bats were red hot and continued to punish the baseball at an alarming rate.
However, the success during this season and this month specifically can be attributed to the pitching staff. Reigning CY Young winner Shane Bieber has been extremely solid this month posting an ERA of 3.11.
The most important part of the pitching staff has been the bullpen. Relievers – Emmanuel Clase, James Karinchak, Bryan Shaw, and Cal Quantrill have been headlining the ‘pen with their dominance all month.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals have been one of the more disappointing teams ever since their World Series win in 2015. However, they made some great additions in the off-season including signing Carlos Santana, Mike Minor, Michael A. Taylor, and even trading for Andrew Benintendi.
Unlike the White Sox and the Indians, the Royals pitching staff is something that needs to be worked on if they want to succeed later in the season and make a playoff push. Their hitting has been great this month with players like Salvador Perez, Andrew Benintendi, Carlos Santana, and Jarrod Dyson.
Before the month of May, fans were very upset with the organization for their poor start to the season with the worst run differential of the season. However, Manager AJ Hinch has brought the team back to being a decent team. He has been on the hot seat as a manager ever since the Astros scandal in 2017, but has brought this team back up from the shambles it was in.
There’s something really good with the pitching in the AL Central. The staff has significantly improved their stats this month as they were ranked dead last in April and have jumped to top 5 this month.
Akil Baddoo has been setting the majors on FIRE thus far as a rookie. His plate discipline has been incredible and many scouts are saying that he is wiser than his age.
What happened to the Bomba Squad this season? They are the reigning AL Central champions and have been rather disappointing thus far. Starting off this season with a 9-15 record, they somehow got even worse in May, but are improving as of late.
Obviously, they still have those incredible players that have the power that granted them the nickname “Bomba Squad”. However, many of those players alongside key people in the pitching staff have been on the IR.
There is still time for the Twins to turn it around and make the playoffs, but they need to take this next step sooner rather than later. If not, it might be too late for them and they will have wasted a season to make a playoff run.