MLB’s second half about to begin

My annual mid-season reports on the Mets and Yankees ran in the paper today. You can follow those links to read those stories.

For the first time in a long time, both New York teams stand a pretty good chance of qualifying for the postseason. Here’s a look at some things that may be big stories over the next few months.

Mets

  • If the playoffs were to start today, the Mets wouldn’t qualify, as they’re two games behind the Cubs in the loss column for the NL’s second Wild Card. And we’ll probably know much more about the Mets’ playoff chances after the next 10 days. The Mets begin the second half with three games in St. Louis, three games in Washington and four games at home against the Dodgers, NL division leaders all. These are the teams the Mets are going to have to beat if they want to make a run in the postseason. They’ll also need to at least keep their heads above water during this stretch or run the risk of falling out of reasonable wild card contention in July.
  • Michael Cuddyer won’t play in the Mets’ first game of the second half, even though he’s healthy enough to go if his name was on the lineup card. Cuddyer hasn’t done nearly what the Mets had hoped he would to help this offense and a perpetually hobbled Cuddyer down the stretch is only going to make a weak Mets lineup weaker. Does this injury force the club to look for outfield help on the trade market?
  • How hard does management push its young pitchers? Matt Harvey is in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. Jacob deGrom is in his second MLB season. Noah Syndergaard is but a rookie. How many innings do these guys pile up this year, whether the team is chasing a playoff berth or not?

Yankees

  • The offense has been great so far, and there’s reason to believe that the Yankees will continue to keep scoring runs in the second half. But there is a little bit of a house of cards vibe with this lineup, as Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez aren’t getting any younger. Brian McCann, who gets just as many at-bats as any catcher in baseball, is also a big part of the lineup. Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury seem to come up with these little nagging injuries all the time. Simply put, can these guys stay healthy? An injury to any one or two guys out of that group won’t be crippling, but if a bunch of guys go down at the same time, this offense might be in trouble.
  • Thanks to a lights-out bullpen and an offense that scores runs, the Yankees have managed to survive with a starting rotation that’s above average but not great. Will the team make a move for another starting pitcher? How long will CC Sabathia remain in the rotation if he continues to pitch this way? Will Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda stay healthy? Does Louis Severino get a shot in the bigs? There’s not a huge problem with this Yankees rotation as is, but it doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence heading into October. Are the Yankees willing to make it better for a postseason run? Time will tell.
  • ┬áRookies on the way. The Yankees have already called up Rob Refsnyder to the majors and it looks like he’s going to at least platoon with Stephen Drew at second base for now. Does he win the job outright pretty soon or will he be back in Scranton? The Yankees have a few other promising position player prospects who aren’t too far from being MLB-ready. Is Aaron Judge ready to take over for Carlos Beltran in the outfield? Does Greg Bird get the call at first base should Teixeira get injured? If Gary Sanchez is ready, could he take some of the load off McCann or make for some sort of platoon situation at DH? Perhaps some of these guys get flipped in a trade, but it would be interesting to see them get a chance to play in pinstripes at some point this summer.

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