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The Leadoff 6/6: Previewing the Week Ahead–ASAP

Managing is everything this week, as teams continue to rely on leaders.

This coming week could be a breaking point for some teams, while other teams hope to keep their hot streaks going.

 

Can the Red Sox Get Above .500?

 

The Red Sox have the second-best record since May 10, going 17-8 in that span.  They finished off a sweep of the Oakland A’s on Sunday, bringing the Red Sox record to .500 at 27-27. Their win, coupled with the Angels’ loss on Sunday, put the Red Sox into the added wild card spot.

While the playoffs are over three months away, being in playoff contention will have ripple effects for the front office, and make it harder for Chaim Bloom to trade away fan favorite Xander Bogaerts at the deadline.

On Monday, the Red Sox eked out a win as they began to face the struggling Angels, freshly swept by both the Yankees and the Phillies. This series could be the turning point for the Angels, or could be the moment the Red Sox hit the gas and continue their playoff push. 

 

Will the Angels Ever Win Again?

 

The 2022 season began with both teams in Los Angeles and both teams in New York leading their divisions. Today, while the New York Mets, New York Yankees, and Los Angeles Dodgers all continue to lead their respective divisions, the Los Angeles Angels continue their plummet down the ranks.

Currently, the Angels’ losing streak has reached double digits, as they lost their eleventh straight game in heartbreaking fashion against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. To make matters more interesting, it came at the hands of reigning MVP, Bryce HarperWith the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, and a four-run lead, Angels manger chose to pitch to Harper. The result? A mammoth home run to right field, to tie the game and shift enough momentum to propel a man to space.

 

 

The interesting part here however, isn’t that the Phillies beat the Angels in dramatic fashion—it’s that Joe Maddon seemingly let it all happen. Earlier this season, he famously walked Corey Seager with the bases loaded, to allow a run to score. The move was questioned by everyone in baseball, but ultimately worked, and the Angels won that game. So, why then, did Joe Maddon think it not right to give Harper the same treatment? Harper has been on a tear of late, slashing .344/.412/.689 in his last 15 games. But, then again, the way the Angels have been playing, everyone has those numbers against them.

Both of the Angels’ stars have been struggling of late. Mike Trout is currently in the worst stretch of his career, as he is hitless in his last 26 at bats and counting. Shohei Ohtani hasn’t provided much better support, hitting just .204 with 18 strikeouts in his last 15 games. Ohtani’s at-bats seem to be the only time he’s missing the bat, for in his past two pitching starts, he has gotten hit all around the ballpark. The Yankees were not fooled by anything he threw in his last start, where he gave up 8 hits, 4 runs, and 3 home runs in just three innings.

But the panic should stop there. Though both Trout and Ohtani’s slumps are concerning, both are former MVPs that will return to form soon enough. They returned home to face the Boston Red Sox on Monday. They have been better at home, going 15-13 on the season. Expect their slump to end soon. And, if the Angels become unwatchable, make an exception to watch them on Saturday, when they will debut their city connect uniforms.

 

 

Will the Phillies Finally Get Going?

 

Philadelphia shocked baseball last week when they announced that they had parted ways with manager Joe Girardi. Wherever you stand on managerial firings, it is hard to disagree with why the Phillies fired him. The team had high hopes going into the 2022 season, and yet was seven games under .500 at the time of the firing. While their defensive woes were predictable from the start, it was expected their offense would overcome those woes and would catapult them into contention. But it never happened. JT Realmuto was slumping, Harper was battling a UCL injury, and their bullpen couldn’t maintain composure.

And so, the old adage happened, and Phillies ownership pulled the trigger to fire the only person they could: the manager of the Phillies. Why? Because you can’t fire players.

Since the firing, the Phillies haven’t lost, so clearly it was the right move. All kidding aside, it’s highly unlikely Girardi was the reason for their defensive and bullpen woes, but his militant style may have contributed to the Phillies’ struggles. Harper even alluded to being a bit happier now that Girardi is gone.

 

 

Clubhouse chemistry matters, especially in a time when a team is performing well below expectations. In Philadelphia, where fans are passionate about their team, the pressure can mount, and having a manager seem to add more pressure likely took its toll on the Phillies.

So far, the Phillies seem to be invigorated by their interim manager, Rob Thompson. This week should continue to test their momentum, as they face the NL Central favorite Milwaukee Brewers.

 

Featured image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)

Christa Lamia

Christa Lamia is a diehard baseball fan that loves the Mets. She is enjoying the new energy and hope that Steve Cohen has given her for the once doomed franchise.

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