By Jacob Kornhauser on July 22, 2014
Just like any MLB season, the second half provides plenty of intrigue. With division races heating up, key players potentially moving teams and aging players fighting for one more chance at a World Series title, there's no better time of the year for baseball fans. As you take in the excitement that is late-season baseball, here are 10 storylines to keep an eye out for.
The Cardinals have won two of the last three NL pennants, and a lot of that has to do with their resiliency. They will have to show that resiliency again as they will be without star catcher Yadier Molina for at least eight weeks, and are also without pitcher Jaime Garcia for the season. In addition to those losses, pitcher Michael Wacha and second baseman Kolten Wong are both sidelined with shoulder injuries.
When the trade deadline isn't good enough, why not add a quality player from your own organization? When teams begin to call up promising stars in August and September, there are sure to be standouts. It's exciting to think that someone you may not have heard of could make a big impact on the playoff picture and in October of this season.
There was a period in the late 2000s when the Phillies were as consistently dominant as any team in baseball. That was built on a solid middle infield and rotation. That middle infield of Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins could be dealt this trade deadline, and top pitchers Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are also on the block. The only problem with this situation is that all four players have extensive no-trade clauses in their contracts.
Not since they moved to Washington have the Nationals enjoyed an NL East division title. They did win the Wild Card a couple of years ago, but it's been a while since they were the regular season champs of the division. Neck and neck with the Braves, Washington seems like the more talented team. Now, can the Nats seal the deal?
The Dodgers and Giants are part of one of the most storied rivalries in all of baseball, and they could add to their history this season. Both teams are playing good baseball right now and are tied in the division. Down the stretch, head-to-head games between these two teams are going to be must-watch television.
Where David Price is traded to, if he's traded, will change the baseball landscape at least for the next couple of seasons. On top of changing the playoff race this season, his impact will be felt next season. Whether he's acquired by the Mariners, Dodgers, Cardinals or even Cubs, his destination will shake up baseball.
We've seen it before -- a team that struggles in the first half goes on a surge in the second half and somehow sneaks into the playoffs. On a short list of candidates to do that this year are the White Sox, Royals, Rays, Red Sox, Mets and Marlins. Any of those teams is a hot streak away from being in the playoff picture.
Four teams in the NL Central are separated by just 3.5 games. The Cardinals, Brewers, Reds and Pirates are all experiencing different storylines this season, but they are huddled up in the division standings. If the race remains this close between four teams, September baseball in the midwest is going to be very entertaining.
Part of every baseball fan wants Derek Jeter's emotional sendoff in the All-Star Game to not be the last time he's in the spotlight during his playing career. Even though there is generally a lot of animosity directed toward the Yankees, the casual fan is going to want to see No. 2 lace them up for one last run in October.
The two best teams in baseball are in the same division. It's obviously unfortunate for these two teams because one will have to settle for the Wild Card, but it's a treat for any baseball fan. Watching these two powerhouse teams duking it out over the final two months of the season is going to be something to watch. Neither team seems ready to back down, and that could lead to some classic games and moments down the stretch.
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