Remember when the Twins were supposed to have one of the league’s easiest schedules? Something about Detroit and Kansas City being terrible, and the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals taking a step back ... sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
You’re not going to believe this, and frankly, by the time you’re reading this it may no longer be true, but all three divisional pairings (both Central divisions, both East divisions, and and both West divisions) have played to a perfect .500 mark entering play on Monday, August 17.
It’s uncanny, really. I even did the math twice, but feel free to triple-check me.
The A.L. Central is 56-51. The N.L. Central is 40-45. That adds up to 96-96. The two East divisions have combined to go 101-101, and the West divisions, which have not been subject to a Marlins or Cardinals-level COVID-19 outbreak, is 110-110.
Even with this knowledge, however, it’s fair to suggest that the 9-13 Royals, and especially the 9-10 Tigers, have surprised. Yes, the Tigers have lost five straight, but they’re calling up top pitching prospect Casey Mize to try and regain some of their momentum.
Of course, the Twins have yet to square-off against Gardy’s Tigers and has 10 of their remaining 38 games against Detroit. If they play better against them than they have so far against Kansas City, the Tigers should be in last place to stay in short order.
It’s fair to assume that the Cubs will come back to earth a bit, and the Twins only have three games against them this year. They also have a road doubleheader against St. Louis in early September.
By the time it’s all said and done, it certainly feels as though the Central division schedule should remain easier than the other two divisional pairings. Given the slow start for Houston and the strong possibility that Oakland is for real, the West may end up being more formidable than the east as the Nationals and Mets struggle and the Braves continue to underwhelm.
Yes, we’re still barely more than a third of the way through the schedule, but the evenness with which the early portion of the truncated schedule has been played is fascinating. Things may not have come quite as easily as expected so far for the Twins, but sitting in first place with the second-best run differential in the league suggests that they’re in a good spot as we look ahead to the second half of the season.