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MLB playoff race heats up

Nick Martinez-Esquibel

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There’s nothing quite like September baseball. Dreams come true and hopes are crushed all within a month’s time. As the regular season winds down, here’s a closer look into some California MLB teams that are hoping to make their playoff dreams come true.

San Francisco Giants: When the whole team is healthy, this is probably the best lineup the Giants have had in years. The problem is, they’re not healthy. Second baseman Joe Panik has been sidelined with a nagging back injury since early August while right fielder Hunter Pence suffered an oblique injury that could keep him out for some time. New outfielder Marlon Byrd has provided an offensive spark in the absence of the two athletes, but there’s no way he can replace both Panik and Pence’s offensive prowess going into September.

Additionally, the Giants need to tighten up their pitching rotation. Since the 2014 World Series MVP and left-handed pitcher Madison Bumgarner, there has been no consistently good pitcher in the bullpen. The closest thing to one is rookie Chris Heston and even then, there is concern for the amount of innings he’s pitched and if he can handle the pressure of a playoff race. Newest addition to the San Francisco Giants pitching staff, Mike Leake, has struggled to stay healthy, and both Matt Cain and Jake Peavy have performed below par. Is there an answer in Ryan Vogelsong? Who knows? But if the Giants want to win the National League West, they need to get healthy and have a consistent starting pitching rotation.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Riding on the backs of pitchers Zach Grenkie and Clayton Kershaw, the men in blue have the best one-two punch in all of baseball. The problem is who comes after them in the rotation, and the bullpen. Mid-season acquisitions Mat Latos and Alex Wood were supposed to sure up the end of the Dodger pitching rotation, but have failed to do so. The biggest mistake the Dodgers have made this season was not making a big splash at the trade deadline.

The Dodgers were hesitant to give up their star prospects for proven all-star talent such as David Price, Johnny Cueto or Cole Hamels. Had they traded for just one of those guys, there would be no doubt they would have been the front runner to win the World Series. It’s understandable to not want to give up highly-talented prospects to have success in the future, but if you have a $300 million payroll, aren’t you trying to win now?

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Since the All-Star break, the Angels seemed to have lost their wings and fallen back to earth. They have been passed by the Astros for the AL West lead and the margin only continues to grow. The 2014 AL MVP, Mike Trout, has just barely hit above .200 since the All-Star break, and a wrist injury could be the cause. Even more outfield problems arose after the departure of outfielder Josh Hamilton, leaving a big hole to fill in left field. At the trade deadline, the Angels traded for not one, not two, but three different outfielders to try to fill the void. So far, not one of them has panned out. Meanwhile, the division-leading Astros acquired an all-star caliber outfielder, two dependable starting pitchers while division rival, the Rangers, traded for All-Star pitcher Cole Hamels. Ironic as it is, the Angels could actually use some angels in the outfield.

Nick Martinez-Esquibel can be reached at [email protected] or @THENickMartinez on Twitter.

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MLB playoff race heats up