The End Of The Line

Paulie Malignaggi

Most people that are 34-years old are not contemplating retirement, but that is not the case for Paulie Malignaggi. Malignaggi is a former boxing champion at both the Junior Welterweight and Welterweight Divisions. Malignaggi has a professional record of 33-7, but he has lost three out of his last four fights including a ninth-round technical knockout at the hands of Danny Garcia last night. The fight against Garcia was stopped in the ninth round by referee Arthur Mercante Jr., who felt that Malignaggi was enduring too much punishment. And during Malignaggi’s post-fight interview at the Barclays Center in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, he let it be known that his fight with Garcia was more than likely his last one.

Malignaggi’s last four fights have taken a lot out of him. Malignaggi lost a controversial split decision to Adrien Broner in 2013 which resulted in him relinquishing the WBA Welterweight Title. Malignaggi would rebound later that year to score a unanimous decision over fellow Brooklynite Zab Judah. But last April, Shawn Porter destroyed Malignaggi and it only took him four rounds to do it in. The bout with Porter should have signaled the end of the line for Malignaggi as he was thoroughly beaten and outclassed, but he decided to give it one more go when he stepped into the ring against Garcia last night who appeared to finish off the job.

The timing is right for Malignaggi to walk away from competing as he shouldn’t hang around in the ring just to be a litmus test for the young and upcoming welterweights in the same fashion as the Brooklyn Brawler was for World Wrestling Entertainment. Aside from fighting, Malignaggi also provides excellent color commentary for Showtime during their boxing telecasts which is a way to keep him around the sport that he loves without having to take the physical punishment in the ring.

Malignaggi’s professional career has spanned 14 years as he scored his first victory in July 2001 when he won a first-round TKO over Thaddeus Parker at KeySpan Park in Brooklyn; so it was only fitting that potentially his final professional bout would take place in Brooklyn as well.

Malignaggi has never been known to have tremendous punching power, but he still managed to win 33 fights as a professional. But as Malignaggi got older and his boxing skills began to diminish, his lack of power was on display when he met the top welterweights in boxing who were able to get past him with relative ease.

In the ring, Malignaggi embodied his hometown of Brooklyn to a tee as he was tough, scrappy, and if he was knocked down, you knew that he would pick himself up off of the canvas to give it a go one more time. Malignaggi’s career didn’t end in the fashion that he would have liked it which is the case for most people, but that wont diminish what he was able to accomplish in the sweet science as he has cemented his name alongside some of the other great boxers to emerge from Brooklyn.

 

 

Just Like Old Times

It’s been 22 years since the Toronto Blue Jays last made the postseason and a lot has changed on the baseball scene in Canada since then. The Montreal Expos left Canada in 2004 to become the Washington Nationals which left the Blue Jays as the only Major League Baseball team to not call the United States home. But the Jays have become a forgotten team in the American League East. Since Toronto won the World Series in 1993, they’ve watched the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox combine to win the Fall Classic eight times while every team in the AL East with the exception of the Blue Jays, has won the division title at least two times over that stretch. But Toronto is out to change that this season.

Alex Anthopoulos

In recent years, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has been active as far as making deals to turn the fortunes of Toronto around. In 2013, the Blue Jays acquired starting pitcher R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets while also making a move to obtain starting pitcher Mark Buehrle and shortstop Jose Reyes from the Miami Marlins. In 2013, the Jays were only able to win 74 games, but last year they went 83-79 as they finished five victories short of the final wild card spot in the American League.

This season the Jays have been a team that is hovered around the .500 mark, but they could be ready to take their game to another level.

Troy Tulowitzki

Leading up to the MLB trade deadline, Anthopoulos was very active. The Blue Jays traded Reyes to the Colorado Rockies along with three minor league players in exchange for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins. This past Thursday would see the Jays strike a deal with the Detroit Tigers to acquire starting pitcher David Price and just prior to the deadline, they were also able to get outfielder Ben Revere from the Philadelphia Phillies. The moves to bring in Tulowitzki and Price have brought excitement to the fan base in Toronto as it could be just what the doctor ordered to get the Blue Jays to the postseason this October.

This year the Blue Jays are 12th in the American League in both quality starts (47) and team earned run average (3.99) But not since the days of starting pitcher Roy Halladay have the Blue Jays had a player in their rotation that was a true ace which changes now with Price. Price fits that mold of an ace as he is a pitcher that you want on the mound to start a winning streak, stop a losing streak, and the Jays are hopeful that he’ll ultimately begin a playoff series for them this October. Price has a career earned run average of 3.13 and he also won the AL Cy Young Award in 2012 as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. Price is in the final year of his contract as he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent this winter which means that he’ll be in line for a hefty payday. The Blue Jays decided to roll the dice in acquiring Price who should pitch lights out for them coming down the stretch due to the fact that he’s looking to get paid in the off-season.

David Price

Price’s presence in the Blue Jays starting rotation also pushes Dickey and Buehrle who are both veteran pitchers further down in the pecking order. Dickey throws the unpredictable knuckle ball while Buehrle is a “junk” pitcher who no longer has to feel the strain of attempting to carry the Blue Jays starting rotation.

Josh Donaldson

But as bad as Toronto’s pitching has been this year, their lineup makes up for it. The Blue Jays have one of the top offenses in Major League Baseball as they are first in the American League in runs scored (556) and slugging (.443), while they are third in home runs with 142, as they have some fierce power hitters in their lineup in the form of Tulowitzki, third baseman Josh Donaldson, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, and outfielder Jose Bautista. And with all of that power, it is surprising that the Blue Jays have only struck out 732 times this year which is just 11th in the AL as once you factor in catcher Russell Martin whom Anthopoulos signed last winter, there really isn’t a perceived soft spot within Toronto’s batting order.

The Blue Jays entered play today tied with the Baltimore Orioles for second place in the American League East as each team is six games behind the Yankees while Toronto is just a game behind the Minnesota Twins for the final wild card slot on the Junior Circuit. I previously commented earlier this season that the Yankees, Orioles, and Blue Jays will fight for the title in the AL East as now Toronto has a full squad that can close the gap on New York within the division. And what the additional wild card spot has done is to give more teams hope as far as making the postseason which is good news for the Blue Jays who are looking to end the longest current drought in Major League Baseball without reaching the playoffs.

The old adage is that pitching wins championships and if the Blue Jays were to find themselves in a one-game, wild card playoff, they have a guy in Price that can get the job done as he proved that by pitching the Rays past the Texas Rangers in 2013 in a one-game playoff to get Tampa to the American League Wild Card Game. And the Blue Jays definitely have the hitting lineup behind Price and the other pitchers that will keep them in games coming down the stretch of the season.

Toronto has won three out of their last four games and you can feel the buzz that is building there as the folks are coming to the Rogers Centre to support their beloved Blue Jays. From 1985-1993, the Blue Jays won the American League East five times with the last two titles being the prelude for them winning the World Series. Those Blue Jays teams enjoyed tremendous balance as they had tremendous hitting with the likes of Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar while they had solid starting pitching with the likes of Jimmy Key and Dave Stieb. For Anthopoulos and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, they could be potentially riding the wave of something special down the stretch of the regular season. And as teams can still put a waiver claim on a player until August 31, the Blue Jays and Anthopoulos aren’t necessarily done upgrading as this team could still use some help in the bullpen. But these next two months could be very special for the Blue Jays and their fan base in Toronto.

An Embarrassment Of Pitches

The New York Mets have failed to reach the postseason since 2006 and they haven’t had a winning record since 2008. The Mets bottomed out in 2009 when they lost 92 games and after winning 79 games last season, they appear to be climbing back into contention. This season the Mets are 52-50 and they are only three games behind the Washington Nationals for first place in the National League East whereas at this point a year ago, the Metropolitans had a record of 52-56 and they trailed the Nats by 7 games. The Mets are trying to gain some momentum for themselves as they are thinking about the postseason. And if the Mets plan on playing baseball this October, a large part of it will be due to their starting pitching.

Matt Harvey

The Mets organization has been built on pitching and that is once again the case in 2015 as they have an array of young arms. Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard are all starting pitchers in the Mets rotation with Niese being the oldest one at 28. Starting pitcher Steven Matz who is 24-years old is currently on the disabled list as he is recovering from a lat injury while starting pitcher Zack Wheeler who is 25-years old is on the shelf this year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. The Mets quality pitching isn’t exclusively in their starting rotation as in their bullpen they have the likes of Jeurys Familia, Hansel Robles, and Sean Gilmartin. And make no mistake about that as far as pitching goes, the Mets are loaded.

This season the Mets earned run average of 3.18 is third in the National League while they’re tops in opponent’s batting average (.242), second in quality starts (66), and fifth in strikeouts (807) which is bringing the fans out to Citi Field in Flushing, New York this summer.

Jacob deGrom

Previously the only day of the week in which the Mets saw a boost in their home attendance was when Harvey took the mound, but that is no longer the case. Last year saw deGrom named as the National League Rookie of the Year and he was the Mets lone representative at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game earlier this month. In the Midsummer Classic, deGrom struck out the side on just 10 pitches in the inning that he worked and he’s also second in the NL this season in earned run average at 2.05 while he is 10th in strikeouts with 128. Syndergaard is in his rookie campaign and like deGrom last year, he is garnering some interest as far as being named the NL’s Rookie of the Year. Syndergaard has a record of 5-5 with a 2.70 earned run average and 91 strikeouts in just 86.2 innings pitched. Syndergaard is showing no signs of hitting the dreaded rookie wall as he went 8 innings while taking a perfect game into the seventh inning against the San Diego Padres earlier this week. Niese has been with the Mets since 2008 and he has seen his fair share of ups and downs. This season Niese has a record of 5-9 with a 3.63 earned run average which isn’t indicative of how he’s pitched lately due to the fact that he is now being pushed for a spot in the rotation. Niese was being pushed for that spot by Matz who in just two starters earlier this summer recorded an earned run average of 1.32 with 14 strikeouts. And all of this is going on while Harvey has a record of 9-7 with an earned run average of 3.16 this season as he is still feeling his way back as he missed the entire 2014 MLB season while he recovered from Tommy John surgery.

In the bullpen, Familia has become one of the top closers in the National League as he is fifth in saves with 27 to go along with his 2.22 earned average and 49 strikeouts while Gilmartin and Robles have been solid in middle relief. And due to the fact that the Mets starters are able to go deeper into the game, it has made their bullpen more effective as they are not being overworked,

The Mets organization has a pair of World Series Championships to their credit and whenever they’ve won, their pitching was at the forefront. In 1969, the Mets were led by pitchers Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, and Nolan Ryan. And when the Metropolitans won the World Series once more in 1986, it was all about starting pitchers Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, Ron Darling, and Bobby Ojeda.

Noah Syndergaard

What makes it so special about this current crop of pitchers for the Mets is that they were mainly developed in their system. Harvey was the Mets first round pick in 2010 while deGrom was chosen that same year in the ninth round. Niese was a seventh round selection of the Mets in 2005 while New York would select Matz in the second round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. Wheeler and Syndergaard were acquired through trades as Mets general manager Sandy Alderson stuck to his guns. In 2011, Alderson put former Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran on the trading block. The San Francisco Giants wanted Beltran, but they were unwilling to part with Wheeler who was a prized arm in their system. Alderson’s persistence won out as he got the player that he wanted. After former Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey won the NL’s Cy Young Award in 2012, he too was put on the trading block. The Toronto Blue Jays were interested in Dickey and they were willing to part ways with Syndergaard who since the trade has been groomed in New York’s system under former Mets pitcher Frank Viola who is the pitching coach for the team’s Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s. In the bullpen, Robles and Familia were signed as amateur free agents out of the Dominican Republic. Gilmartin was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2011, but the Mets picked him up in the Rule 5 Draft in 2014. And once you factor in a veteran in starting pitcher Bartolo Colon and the Mets recent acquisition of relief pitcher Tyler Clippard from the Oakland Athletics, New York is gaining confidence.

This season the Mets are far from being a complete team as they possess one of the worst offenses in the National League. Already this season the Mets have lost four games by the score of 1-0 as the offense has let the pitching staff down. But through it all the Mets are right there for the top spot in the National League East and they’re just 4 games behind the Giants for the final wild card berth and as long as you have solid pitching, anything can happen.

Aside from this year, the Mets are set up to win due to their young core of pitchers as they can be a team to be reckoned with for the next few seasons. The Mets have a luxury that most Major League Baseball teams currently don’t have which is the ability to possess multiple aces in their starting rotation. Pitching has kept the Mets afloat so far this season and it should continue to be that way this season. And if the bats are able to come around consistently, anything can happen down the stretch for the Metropolitans.

Source: Baseball-reference.com

The Gospel According To Phil

Phil Jackson

The 2015-2016 NBA season is three months away from starting, but that doesn’t mean that basketball isn’t on the brain. The New York Knicks are coming off of their worst season in franchise history as they only won 17 games which is something that team president Phil Jackson is attempting to remedy this summer. Jackson missed out on signing the top-tier players in free agency as none of them wanted to be a part of the Knicks rebuild. But the Knicks are high on forward Kristaps Porzingis who was the fourth overall pick of last month’s NBA Draft. Jackson envisions Porzingis as a work in progress while he still looking to build a team around small forward Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is 31-years old and he is coming off of knee surgery as it will be interesting to see if he can regain his form as one of the best scorers in the NBA. The head coach of the Knicks is Derek Fisher who is set to embark on his second year with the team. Jackson brought Fisher to New York due to the fact that Fisher is a disciple of his coveted triangle offense as he played under Jackson for 10 years. But it will be interesting to see if Jackson’s love for the triangle will hurt or help the Knicks going forward.

A big part of the Knicks struggles last season were a lack of talent and the fact that they were trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Most of the Knicks roster didn’t grasp the triangle offense and it was like attempting to mix oil with water as Jackson and Fisher never attempted to adjust to their personnel. And going forward that stubbornness could hurt Jackson in New York City with the Knickerbockers.

As a head coach Jackson has won more NBA Championships (11) than any other head coach in league history and it was all done under the banner of his triangle offense. But Jackson also had the luxury of winning with two of the best shooting guards in NBA history. Jackson won six NBA Titles with the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan, while he won five more with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. But like I’ve said in the past, Jackson has never built a team from the ground up, and more importantly, he hasn’t done it in New York City where the media and fans alike can be relentless.

Carmelo Anthony

Even as Anthony is recovering from knee surgery, he is still the Knicks best player. For his 12-year NBA career, Anthony has averaged 25.2 points per game and he’s never had a season where he averaged under 20 points. But as good of a scorer that Anthony is and can be, he is more of an isolation player that is a volume shooter due to the fact that he needs to take numerous shots to score and he isn’t effective without the basketball along with the fact that he doesn’t make the players around him better. Last summer, Jackson had to talk Anthony into re-signing with the Knicks after he opted out of his deal. Jackson’s championship resume was enough to make Anthony stay with the Knicks and although last season was a wash for New York, he is trying to build a team around the eight-time NBA All-Star.

During the 2015 NBA Draft, Jackson shipped shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., to the Atlanta Hawks for the draft rights to guard Jerian Grant. Hardaway was one of those players on the Knicks roster last season that struggled in the triangle as there were internet rumors that he and Anthony weren’t on the same page. And whereas Jackson was unable to bring in free agents with star appeal, he was able to sign center Robin Lopez and shooting guard Arron Afflalo.

Kristaps Porzingis

What Porzingis, Grant, Lopez, and Afflalo all bring to the table for Jackson is that they are players that are effective without the basketball in their hands which is something that is important if Anthony isn’t going to alter his game as the Knicks will need that kind of personnel in order to be able to contend in an Eastern Conference that is improving.

Jackson has received is fair share of criticism from the press in New York City, but being that he played 11 seasons for the Knicks which included helping the franchise win their only two NBA Championships, he knows how to deal with the folks in the Big Apple, and thus he has thick skin. Like any physical structure, building a solid foundation for a team takes time as you need the right pieces to fit your system. But in the NBA, all players don’t like the triangle system which could scare players away from potentially joining the Knicks. And if that is the case, would Jackson be willing to adjust his system or would the bling from his 11 title rings blind him from seeing that? Only time will tell.

A Quiet Surge

For their existence the New York Yankees have been one of the most storied franchises in all of professional sports. The Yankees have won 27 World Series Championships which is by far the gold standard in Major League Baseball. The Yankees have had a who’s who of Baseball Hall of Famers such as Babe Ruth and Yogi Berra suit up for them while they’ve also been romanticized in film as well. The Yankees have also had no problem with being front page news as they play in the world’s biggest media market. Former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner once equated owning the team to having the Mona Lisa due to the fact that it is very rare which makes this year’s edition of the Bronx Bombers very intriguing.

From 1995-2012, the Yankees only missed the postseason one time and over that stretch as they enjoyed five World Series Championships in seven appearances in the Fall Classic. But the past two seasons have resulted in the Yankees watching the playoffs from home. We didn’t know what to expect from the Yankees in 2015, but they appear to have found their groove this summer.

http://www.todaysknuckleball.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Yankees-Fist-Bump-400x240.jpgAs the month of July is winding down, the Yankees have a record of 54-42 which is good for the top spot in the American League East. The Yanks have an 12-game lead in the AL East over their arch-rival in the Boston Red Sox while they swept a three-game series this week from the Baltimore Orioles to put them seven games back which might be too much for them to recover from. The Toronto Blue Jays are in second place in the division as they are 5.5 games behind the Yankees who are keeping all of the teams within the AL East at a distance and they’ve done it without much fanfare.

The Yankees didn’t have one starter elected to this month’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game and in spite of the fact that they are in first place in the AL East, they’ve flown under the radar which is rather surprising as they typically have been an organization that garners a ton of media attention.

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Joe Girardi

This is the first season since 1994 in which the Yankees don’t have shortstop Derek Jeter in the lineup. The Yankees came into this season with many questions and uncertainties about their team. But under manager Joe Girardi, the Yankees are showing that actions speak louder than words. On May 24, the Yankees had finished a stretch where they had lost 10 of 11 games and their record was 22-22. The Yanks were in second place in the AL East and they were searching for answers as they were trying to find themselves, but since then they’ve been in a strong groove and it has been the veterans on this club that are answering the bell.

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Alex Rodriguez

After being suspended for the entire 2014 MLB season as the result of performance-enhancing drugs, Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez came into this season with something to prove. At first the Yankees wanted nothing to do with Rodriguez as they were looking to get rid of him as they felt that he was an embarrassment to their organization. But A-Rod has been one of the Yankees best players this season as he is batting .277 with 23 home runs and 58 runs batted in. Rodriguez is doing this in the twilight of his career as he’ll be 40-years old on Monday and he’s attempting to show that he is clean along with proving that he has the ability to still be one of the better power hitters in the game of baseball. Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira entered 2015 coming off of consecutive subpar seasons. But Teixeira changed his diet as he is now gluten free and at the age of 35, he is still a productive player for the Yanks. Teixeira might not be a .300 hitter like he was at one point during his MLB career, but he is tied for fourth in the American League in home runs with 24, and he’s second in runs batted in with 65 as he and A-Rod have provided the pop in the middle of New York’s lineup. Outfielder Brett Gardner is enjoying one of the best seasons of his MLB career as he is batting a career best .293 with a .370 on-base percentage. And because of this Gardner would go on to be named to his MLB All-Star Game earlier this month. Now that outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has returned from the disabled list, the Yankees have their leadoff man and table setter as their lineup in rounding out.

Pitching wise, the Yankees team earned run average of is one of the highest in the American League as they’re 11th in the category at 3.95, but they continue to crank out wins. Starting pitchers Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Adam Warren, and Nathan Eovaldi have all had their fair share of ups and downs this season, but Sabathia is the only one that currently has a losing record. Pineda has shown flashes of potentially developing into an ace, but he still needs to put it together consistently while Tanaka has been able to shake off the words of his detractors that say that he is destined for Tommy John surgery due to his elbow problems. Tanaka is 7-3 with earned run average of 3.64 in 13 starts this season.

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Andrew Miller

But wherever the Yankees starting rotation has been unable to hold their own this season, the bullpen has picked up the slack. Relief pitchers Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances each have the ability to be a closer for Girardi, but it is Miller that gets the ball in the ninth inning as he has 23 saves this season.

The ups and downs of the Yankees this season and the fact that this isn’t you’re typical “murderers row” type team that we’re accustomed to seeing from them has allowed them to go a bit unnoticed this season. Under the control of team owners Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, these Yankees don’t consistently spend the big bucks on players like they did when the team was being run by their father George, but one stroke of the pen can always change that. And if the Steinbrenners give Yankees general manager Brian Cashman the okay, this team will be a player on the trade market. With what the Yankees currently have on their team, they’ll be in the hunt to win the American League East, but a trade for another starting pitcher, middle reliever, or quality bat could be the difference in them merely making the playoffs and hoisting the World Series Championship Trophy this October. And regardless of what this current Yankees roster looks like, they’ll still be must-see TV if they can make it to October.

Here Come The Angels

It took the Los Angeles Angels some time to get on track this Major League Baseball season. The Angels won 98 games last season en route to winning their first American League Western Division Title since 2009. The Angels were expected to do big things in the playoffs last October, but in the American League Divisional Series, they were swept by the eventual AL Champion in the Kansas City Royals. As a result the Angels came into this year with a bit of a hangover from that along with personnel issues that sidetracked them.

The Angels had signed outfielder Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal prior to the 2013 MLB season. But Hamilton never came close to being the player that was the American League MVP in 2010 as a member of the Texas Rangers. Hamilton had relapses with drug and alcohol abuse which led to the Angels trading him to the Rangers this past April. Jerry Dipoto was named as the Angels general manager in 2011. But Dipoto inherited manager Mike Scioscia who has been with the club since 2000. Dipoto and Scioscia were never on the same page as their baseball philosophies were totally different and their rift negatively affected the Angels team. And on July 1, Dipota resigned from his post with the Angels as it finally appears to be all systems go for this team.

On June 26, the Angels were 37-37, but since then they are 17-4 including winning their last seven of their last eight games. In late June, the Angels were tied for second place in the AL West as they were trailing the first place Houston Astros in the division by five games. But with the Angels improved play along with the recent struggles of the Astros, Los Angeles has turned that five-game deficit in the AL West into a one-game lead and by the looks of things, they don’t appear ready to slow down.

Mike Trout

Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the reigning American League MVP and he is in the running to once again win the award. Trout is currently batting .303 with a .395 on-base percentage to go along with 28 home runs and 57 runs batted in as he is one of the most exciting players in baseball. The Angels lineup has also be helped out by the resurgence of first baseman Albert Pujols. Pujols joined the Angels in 2012 after being a three-time National League MVP with the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols is now 35-years of age and whereas he may no longer be a .300 hitter, he still has plenty of thunder in his bat as his 29 home runs lead Major League Baseball this year.

Aside from Trout and Pujols, the Angels are getting contributions in their lineup from the likes of shortstop Erick Aybar who has an on-base percentage this season of .322 and outfielder Kole Calhoun who is coming into his own offensively and defensively.

Garrett Richards

Pitching wise the Angels team earned run average of 3.46 is second in the American League and they have more depth in their starting rotation this year. Last season starting pitcher Garrett Richards was cruising along for the Angels with a record of 13-4 until a crippling knee injury ended his run. But Richards has returned healthy this year for the Angels and he is currently sporting a record of 10-7 with a 3.25 earned run average. In 18 starts this season, starting pitcher Hector Santiago has posted a 7-4 record with a 2.30 earned run average as he earned his first appearance in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game earlier this month. Relief pitcher Huston Street has been one of the top closers of this era. The Angels acquired Street from the San Diego Padres last season and he continues to be a dominant closer as he picked up the 300th save of his MLB career this past Wednesday night against the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles will need him coming down the stretch of the regular season if they want to entertain a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

And now that the Angels have dusted themselves off of the canvas, they can become buyer’s with the MLB trade deadline rapidly approaching next Friday. The Angels could be in line to acquire another arm for their starting rotation; especially since the Astros were able to make a trade with the Oakland Athletics to get starting pitcher Scott Kazmir yesterday. And as far as the Angels go, you’ll here the names of Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, Detroit Tigers starting pitcher David Price, and Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels as potential trade targets. The Angels could also be in line for another bat and the names of Oakland Athletics utility man Ben Zobrist, Miami Marlins utility man Martin Prado, and Reds outfielder Jay Bruce could be floated around as Los Angeles could be ready to make another World Series push.

Mike Scioscia, Arte Moreno

Angels owner Arte Moreno believes in Scioscia as he is the only manager in franchise history to win a World Series Championship and his old-school approach is still effective. The players on the Angels have rallied around Scioscia and there is no longer a contrast in styles and philosophies between he and Dipoto. The Angels are rolling right now and their next three series could tell the tale of where this team is headed. The Angels host the Rangers this weekend which will be followed by a three-game road series against the Astros that should be very intense. The Halos will then travel to meet the Los Angeles Dodgers and if they continue on the current pace that their on, the Angels could soon have a strangle hold on things in the American League West. The 2015 version of the Angels are proving that it isn’t how you start, but more about how you finish.

Source: Baseball-reference.com