By JOHN WOODWARD-HAYESESPN.comIt has been nearly three years since the end of the All-Star Game, but the A-Listers finally get to face the real competition in the form of a baseball team.
And it’s one they can’t miss.
A-Rod will return to a crowded lineup in the National League on Tuesday.
He’ll be on the mound for the Yankees at Citi Field.
The A’s have the luxury of playing against a baseball-crazy city like New York, but they can still get the game on the road if they want to, which is what they did on Saturday against the Padres.
A-Rds will be back for more baseball.
A few months ago, A-listers like us were wondering if the A’s would ever be able to find a way to make the playoffs in 2017.
Now, it seems like they have a pretty good shot.
The Yankees are still in first place in the AL West.
The Astros are the only other team still in the hunt.
The Dodgers have a shot, but their pitching staff is a mess.
The Phillies are the clear favorite, but it’s hard to tell what their bullpen is made of.
And the Pirates have a great offense, but a great defense.
They might just be the only team left standing in the race.
The Yankees and Red Sox are the other teams left standing.
The Giants, Rays, and Orioles are all playing catch up, while the Yankees and Orioles have some semblance of an identity.
So the As will probably face the Yankees again.
They’ll get a chance to play the Astros in a game that is sure to be fun to watch.
The Astros have been the worst team in baseball in 2017, but that has nothing to do with their bullpen.
They’re a mess in the bullpen.
The bullpen has been one of the worst in baseball.
It’s been a problem for the A.L. West teams, too, and now the Yankees, Astros, and Red Lions have all been forced to replace their top pitching staff.
The rotation in particular has been a disaster, as the ALCS featured three pitchers who combined for a 4.67 ERA in 2017 and two pitchers who each threw less than 100 innings.
The rotation is a problem because the Astros aren’t the best team in the A League right now.
They aren’t even the best in the American League right currently.
Houston has only been to the playoffs once since 2010.
They lost in the divisional round to the Indians in 2017 before winning the World Series in 2018.
They have never won a playoff series in Houston, but Houston has been to three World Series finals and two World Series championships in the past six years.
The only thing that’s holding the Astros back is a mediocre offense.
The average team in A.D.C. had a league-leading .907 OPS in 2017 despite playing in the top three teams in the league in OPS (.846).
The average OPS in the postseason was .957.
The bullpen is a major problem.
The best relievers in baseball are righties, but relievers have a lot of trouble with the strike zone.
It hasn’t been a good year for righties in the NL, either.
The strike zone was so good in the last two years that the Aces are only allowed to use three left-handed relievers, the highest in the majors.
The last reliever to throw 100 innings with three lefties was Jose Veras in 2013.
That was only a few months before he was traded to the Dodgers.
The lefties are the worst relievers and probably will be for the rest of the year.
The pitching staff has been terrible.
Carlos Correa is the only reliever in baseball with an ERA of less than 4.00.
Carlos Martinez was the only one who could throw more than 100 frames.
The team’s starting pitching is a joke.
They’ve never made the playoffs, and they’re probably going to be the worst playoff team in history when they finally do.
It doesn’t matter how good they are, the A and A-League teams will be hard to beat in 2017 when the A&L teams have been great.