MLB: Which Teams Will Fade As Division Races Heat Up?

John LewisSenior Writer IJuly 22, 2008

The start of the second half of the Major League Baseball season is only five days old and several teams have pulled close to their division rivals.  But as history tells us, most teams will fade as the season ends, but which teams will they be?

As we start in the American League, two of the three division races are tighter than Joan River's face and damn near as frightening. 

The Tampa Bay Rays have recovered from a seven game slide to end the first half and lead the Boston Red Sox by a game-and-a-half.  Meanwhile the New York Yankees have made some adjustments and have seen more ups and downs than a Viagra conference. 

The Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins are separated by just a half game and begin a four game series that starts July 28-31.  Losers of their last three games, Chicago is apparently making a run at closer Brian Fuentes of the Colorado Rockies.

Minnesota, on the other hand, could use another starter to bolster their rotation if Francisco Liriano doesn't return to form.  Their team ERA is a respectable ninth in the AL, but their opponents batting average is 13th and their home runs allowed is 14th.

Over in the National League the Mets and Phillies are in a dead heat as they begin a three game series tonight.  The Mets have won 14 of their last 20 games and are now tied with the Phiiilies who need their offense to get back on track.  Philadelphia has played .500 ball winning 10 of their last 20.

Don't count out the Florida Marlins who sit a game back.  However, with their youth and inexperience, unless they make a trade for a quality pitcher I don't see them continuing in the charge.  They are 14th in the NL in runs allowed and ERA and 12th in home runs allowed.  

In the NL Central the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals are separated by only two games.  Tell Grandma to take her teeth out of the glass because this one will be a nail bitter.

The Cubs made the move to acquire Rich Harden while the Brewers countered with the CC Sabathia trade.  The Cardinals are standing firm on the return of Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter as their trade deadline move.

But the one that has the whole country watching is the NL West race where both teams are fighting it out for the best record under .500.  The Arizona Diamondbacks and LA Dodgers both are sitting one game under .500 and they have a four game set the starts July 31st.

This race will be a crotch-grabber folks, and I'll bet you a handful of nuts this one won't be over anytime soon.

So which team will continue the charge and which team will fall as the end nears?

My bet in the AL East is that the Tampa Bay Rays will stumble as the post season nears.  One reason is they don't have any playoff experience and they may read too much press about their great season. 

I see the Chicago White Sox winning the AL Central because they will make some moves before the trade deadline.  They already have a solid offense but a move will put their decent pitching over the top.

The NL East will see the Phillies take home the division crown simply because they have the better team than the oft-injured Mets and young Marlins.  Their offense is already great but if Joe Blanton can pitch well, the Phil's should make the post season.

As for the NL Central, the Cubs will win the division simply because they have more weapons.  The Cardinals will more than likely flop if their bullpen continues to let them down and the Brewers struggle on the road.

It's anyone's guess who will win the NL West.  Early on, the Diamondbacks looked to be the favorites but with a lackluster offense they will continue to struggle.  The Dodgers on the other hand have given up the least amount of runs and home runs and have the lowest ERA in the NL.

Until next time.