MLB Contenders That Have Reason to Doubt 2013 Postseason Hopes
We're only two weeks into the season, but already the division races look tight as can be. There's been a lot of great competition so far, and it will only get better as the season marches on.
While two weeks seem like too short a time to judge contenders, the beginning of the season could have a big impact on October.
Take the 2011 Red Sox for example. Yes the team had a disastrous September, but they lost out on the postseason by one win. If they had started out the season better than 2-10, they play baseball in October.
The races are going to be close this year, and every game, win or lose, counts. You better believe slow April starts are going to play their part come September and October.
Looking towards this year's projected contenders, we're breaking down teams who's once-certain postseason berths look like anything but in the early goings of the season.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays were perhaps the biggest winners of the offseason, using blockbuster trades to bring in two front-line starters (R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson) and All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes.
Despite the big acquisitions, the Jays are 5-6 to start the year. While that has them tied for second in the AL East, a down spiral could be coming.
Injuries buried the Jays in 2012, and they're already a factor in 2013. The most recent loss is Reyes, who is suspected to be out until the All-Star break after spraining his ankle this week (via ESPN).
As for the new-look rotation, things have been far from perfect.
Johnson (1.1 innings, seven hits, six earned runs) and Brandon Morrow (3.2 innings, five earned runs, zero Ks) were horrid in their most recent starts, and Dicky has a 5.82 ERA to start his season.
The AL East is wide open this year, and every win counts. Based on what happened in 2012, injuries are a concern, but the real issue is the rotation.
Until the aces start pitching like they're supposed to, the Jays have huge postseason concerns.
Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels were arguably baseball's most improved team entering 2012, but they still missed out on the playoffs. After another big offseason, the Angels hope to return to the postseason in 2013.
So far, things haven't been pretty in L.A.. The Angels are currently 3-8 and begin the year sitting in last place in the AL West.
One contributing factor has been the slow start of their star corner outfielders. Josh Hamilton is hitting just .179 with 14 strikeouts and Mike Trout has yet to hit a home run.
Injuries are playing a hand as well. Ryan Madson has been on the DL since the start of the season, and he was recently joined by ace Jered Weaver (broken elbow).
The Angels will live and die by their rotation this season, and without Weaver there's not much there—Tommy Hanson and Garrett Richards lead the staff in wins (one) and ERA (4.22), respectively.
The Halos have a ton of talent, but that didn't seem to help much last year. Unless they get healthy and the corner outfielders start playing at full tilt, 2013's going to bring more of the same disappointment.
Injuries and pitching woes led to a tough 2012 for the Phillies, but there was a chance they would return to their winning ways this season.
The big question mark was Roy Halladay, who was coming off one of the worst campaigns of his career. Doc's struggles have continued in 2013, as he has a 14.73 ERA and just 7.1 innings pitched across his first two starts.
Also worth noting is the early struggles of Cole Hamels (7.56 ERA, eight walks), but he has a much better chance at stabilizing than Halladay.
While the one-two punch of Hamels and Cliff Lee is still a powerful one, it won't be nearly enough to win the potent NL East. Without Halladay pitching at an elite level, there's no chance the Phils return to October.
Los Angeles Dodgers
With a healthy offense and strong rotation, the San Francisco Giants have a firm hold on the NL West at 8-4. Nipping at their heels are the 7-4 Los Angeles Dodgers.
After an offseason filled with big-time improvements to the rotation, it's no surprise the Dodger's are competing like they are.
Unfortunately, it's been a tough week for L.A.. After Thursday's brawl with the San Diego Padres, it's being reported that starting pitcher Zack Greinke will be out for at least eight weeks with a collarbone injury (via ESPN).
It's just one more injury for the Dodgers, who are already missing Hanley Ramirez and Ted Lilly to start the season.
Until Greinke is healthy, the Dodgers are rolling with a rotation fairly identical to the one they used last year—sans Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is still a black box this early in the year.
As long as the Giants keep up their winning ways, the Dodgers will have quite a hole to dig out of once healthy. Losing Greinke isn't a death sentence for the team, but it certainly doesn't help.