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This Week in Baseball: Who to Watch After the All Star Break

It’s week 16, there are about 13 weeks left of the regular season, and only 13 days until the trade deadline.  Every game counts now more than ever, and it will only get more difficult for a team to recover if they struggle.  Just as it is said that everything can change in the playoffs, same same can be said about the All Star break.  This week in baseball I take a look at 2 teams that are poised to give the current leaders in their division a run for their money.  

In my mind the American League team to keep your eyes on the is Houston Astros.  Before the season started I had picked them to win the west.  The Astros had a rough start to the season losing 17 of 26 in April.  May began a slow climb back toward the top of the division.  The Astros played 29 games and only dropped 12.  Right now they sit in 2nd with 50 wins behind the team with the most wins in the AL, the Texas Rangers.  

The Astros start of the week playing one of the doormats of the AL The Oakland Athletics.  The best match up of the series happens Monday night when Mike Fiers takes the mound for the Astros and Kendall Graveman for the Athletics.  They are evenly matched, both with ERAs just over 4.3.  The ace Dallas Keuchel pitches Tuesday and always makes for a good watch as well.  The Astros finish out the week playing the other team at the bottom of the west, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  I look to see the Cinderella team of 2015 to at least 4 of the 6 games.

To me, the National League team to watch is the Miami Marlins.  This team has managed drag itself out of obscurity and are currently tied for 2nd place (49 wins) in the NL East with the 2015 NL Champion New York Mets.  The Marlins finished out 2015 3rd in the division despite their early season struggles.  The firing of their manager Mike Redmond being managed by GM Dan Jennings was enough to term any team on it’s head and the organization knew it needed to do it again, but in a positive direction, for 2016.   The shake up the team needed came by way manager Don Mattingly and hitting coach Barry Bonds.  

The Marlins start their week playing the Philadelphia Phillies and ace Jose Fernandez is the first to take the mound.  Prior to the All Star break, the have won 7 of their last 12 game.  The Marlins have played the Phillies twice already this season (both times in May) and have yet to win a series.  They will definitely be looking to make a statement and winning a 4 game series against this divisional rival is a good way to do it.  The weekend will see another divisional match for for the fish, the Mets.  The Marlins have met the Mets 3 times already and only winning 4 of 9.  If they even want to entertain the notion that they can win the division, winning this series is integral in making their playoff dreams come true.  

As we close in on the trade deadline teams will be making moves to either help propel them to the playoffs this season or perhaps secure new talent for the future.  Next week I will take a look at the teams most likely to make moves this week in baseball.  

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