As the Oakland Athletics open up a two-game series with the Los Angeles Angels, they remain right in the thick of the AL West race. The A's have scuffled along this season with fantastic starting pitching and wildly inconsistent hitting and it has left them right at the .500 mark. At 20-20, the A's currently sit 1.5 games back of the Angels and a half game back of the second place Texas Rangers. They remain in the thick of the American League Wild Card race as well, but given the weak nature of the AL West at this point, one has to wonder if the wild card will really matter.
The A's were right in the thick of things at this point last year and hung around into the summer before the Texas Rangers pulled away in August and September. Of course, the Rangers added Cliff Lee in a big July trade, which played a part in their eventual success. The question now is whether one of these three teams will make a big addition over the summer to try and put away a division that is open to any of the three. Seattle is only five games back, but they have not shown any signs of jumping back into this race anytime soon.
For the Angels, if they pull this thing out, it could be due to their deal last season that netted them Dan Haren. The deal did not pay dividends last season, but this year he is the veteran leader of the Angels pitching staff. If they can come together, LA would seem to be the favorites for now.
The Rangers will get back Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz in the coming weeks, but their pitching remains wildly inconsistent. They need Colby Lewis to revert to his 2010 form if they want to really have a chance.
And then you have the Oakland A's. They've got the necessary starting pitching and will be getting Andrew Bailey back as their closer in the next couple weeks. There is no question they've got the pitching to win the AL West. Unfortunately it all comes back down to their hitting. They need their hitters to regroup and form a cohesive lineup. If they can do that, they very well could be the favorites in the West.
AL West Standings
American League Wild Card Standings
|New York||20||18||.526||1||Lost 5|
|Kansas City||20||19||.512||1.5||Lost 2|
(updated 5.16.2011 at 8:25 AM PDT)