How they rank: June 18


With last rankings in parentheses (stats through Friday’s games):

1. Chicago Cubs (1): .Pete Rose says “the Cubs will find a way to screw it up,” probably based on all the baseball acumen he exhibited as manager of the Reds. Yo, Pete, does that mean you’re betting against them? That’s the best news Cubs fans could get, but they’ll worry anyway. It’s what they do.

2. Washingon (3): One more reason to celebrate Dusty Baker’s return: Nats embark on trip west and Baker says: “… I’ve seen the West Coast destroy teams.” Not sure if he was referring to earthquakes or the Padres.

3. Texas (11): Last summer’s trade with the Phillies gave the Rangers the left-hander who cemented their pitching staff. And Cole Hamels isn’t hurting either. Reliever Jake Diekman, who piggybacked Hamels to Texas, has 17 holds, a save, a win, a 1.40 ERA and a .451 OPS against. Hamels is 7-1 with a 2.88 ERA after a 1-0 win over St. Louis on Friday.

4. San Francisco (9): Giants sign ex-Giants Jean Machi, who was released from Cubs’ AAA team after being arrested and charged with public intoxication and urinating in public. They must figure he can provide, uh, relief.

5. Baltimore (6): Orioles pitching coach Dave Wallace on Ubaldo Jimenez after Jimenez was pulled from starting rotation: “We’re going to need him.” For what Wallace didn’t say, but given Jimenez’s 7.34 ERA and .332 batting average against, let’s rule out Game 1 of the playoffs.

6. Boston (12): Boston pitching rhymes, circa 2016: Porcello, Price and Wright, then opponents will have a good night. Six other starters — Eduardo Rodriguez, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Henry Owens, Sean O’Sullivan and Roenis Elias — have combined for a 7.12 ERA in their 26 starts, giving up 100 earned runs, 29 homers, 70 walks and 151 hits in 126.1 innings. That includes a no-hitter Kelly took into the seventh, one of six quality starts the six have made.

7. St. Louis (5): Cards GM John Mozeliak two weeks ago: “Clearly, right now, our bullpen’s not screaming for help.” Unless he’s hard of hearing, Mozeliak should be able to hear Trevor Rosenthal crying out. In five June innings, Rosenthal has given up six walks, six hits and six runs, and in his last 13 innings, Rosenthal  has walked 16. He’s not closing, but opening opportunities for opponents.

8. Toronto (16): Jason Grilli, dealt by Braves with a 5.29 ERA, fans 10 in first 4.2 innings with the Jays. Manager John Gibbons on Grilli: “He knows what he’s doing.” Verdict is still out on Braves.

9. N .Y. Mets (2): More surgery for David Wright, who played 38 games last year and 37 this year. Wright may have been on his way to a Hall of Fame career — .a .296 average, 242 homers, 196 steals, .867 OPS, 50.0 WAR — but you have to wonder at age 33 if he’ll ever get to complete it.

10. Cleveland (15): Indians manager Terry Francona won’t pull reliever Bryan Shaw from eighth-inning role after Salvador Perez’s game-winning homer on Tuesday off Shaw. “I just said he went like 24 innings without giving up an earned run,” said Francona. You can tell Francona didn’t major in math at Arizona since Shaw has only pitched 25.1 innings this year, and has a 5.68 ERA and allowed seven home runs.

11. Seattle (14): Dae-ho Lee hit 10 homers before his first double, which drove in two runs on Thursday. In just 118 at-bats, Lee has 34 hits, 27 RBIs and a .551 slugging percentage.

12. Kansas City (7): Royals designate second baseman Omar Infante, signed by GM Dayton Moore for four years and $30 million. Moore: “It’s a mistake you don’t like to make.” Winning the World Series means you can be forgiven your mistakes. And that you can admit them.

13. L.A. Dodgers (10): Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal argue in dugout after Grandal’s base-running blunder almost costs Dodgers the tying run on Thursday. Turner: “We’re all competitors. Sometimes you have differences of opinion.” Yo Justin, it’s not a debate but a baseball game, even if it looked more like a Trump rally.

14. Detroit (13): GM Al Avila says, “We don’t want to trade away our top prospects …”, which should be reassuring to Tigers fans. Who knew they had any?

15. Pittsburgh (8): Rookie pitcher Jameson Taillon, who missed 2014 and 2015 seasons because of injuries, throws a two-hitter over eight innings in second major league start. Gerrit Cole, who won 30 games as Taillon was hurt, goes on DL. You have to wonder if Taillon and Cole, Pirates’ No. 1 picks in 2010-11 drafts, are fated not to be in the same rotation.

16. Miami (21): Do you want the good news or bad news first? Marlins reliever Kyle Barraclough leads NL with 16.9 strikeouts per nine innings. “That’s good news,” said Barraclough. He also leads NL with 7.2 walks per nine innings. “That’s bad news,” he said. Best news is he came by trade from Cardinals for Steve Cishek, who’s no longer a Cardinal, last July.

17. N.Y. Yankees (23): CC Sabathia, who had 4.81 ERA in previous three injury-riddled seasons, has 2.20 ERA and allowed just two homers in 65.1 innings in 11 starts. If healthy, the Yankees will owe him $25 million for 2017, which will be OK if he pitches like this and not as he did from 2013-15.

18. Tampa Bay (19): Golfer and Yankee fan Chi Chi Rodriguez accepts an award from Tampa Bay Sports Commission and says the Rays have “no pitching.” That rankles Rays manager Kevin Cash, who says, “My gosh Chi Chi, we’re at a Tampa Bay event. C’mon, man.” Why so sensitive? It’s not as if Chi Chi pointed out what the Rays are really lacking — fans.

19. Chicago White Sox (4): Why wins don’t define pitchers’ performance: Chris Sale has 2.94 ERA and .610 OPS against in 14 starts; Jose Quintana has a 2.63 ERA and.627 OPS against in 14 starts. Sale is 11-2, Quintana 5-7. White Sox have scored 69 runs in Sale’s starts, 37 in Quintana’s.

20.  Colorado (25): The Rockies stand on principle and release shortstop Jose Reyes, who was suspended for a domestic assault arrest which didn’t go to trial. The Rockies’ position cost them $40 million or so, which will go to Reyes, but gains them many admirers. You have to wonder how principled they’d be if rookie Trevor Story (.265/.319/.550) was hitting 50 points less and slugging a couple hundred points less.

21. Houston (24): Astros farm rookie first baseman Tyler White, who hit .314 with five homers in April and just .178 with two homers since.”We just need him to exhale and get back to being a good hitter first and a dangerous hitter second,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. If White ever gets his breathing right, he’s likely to find his position occupied by another rookie, A.J. Reed, who’s waiting for the call.

22. Milwaukee (27): Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress is 19-for-20 in save opportunities despite allowing 34 hits in 31.2 innings.Brewers manager Craig Counsell: “No closer comes in and does 1-2-3 every single inning.” Perhaps not. But most do it more often than Jeffress, whose 1.33 WHIP is tied for ninth among NL closers and fifth among his own team’s relievers.

23. L.A. Angels (18): Infielder Jefry Marte starts in left field and when asked after the game about his experience there, he says, “That was my first time ever.” Given that Marte has eight extra-base hits in 46 at-bats, and Angels left fielders are hitting  a utility infielder-light .210 with a .567 OPS,  it won’t be his last.

24. Arizona (20): D-backs say they’re going to play Pete O’Brien every day, and if you like strikeouts and home runs, there should be plenty of both. O’Brien was slugging .670 at AAA with 61 strikeouts and just nine walks in 225 plate appearances. In 20 big-league at-bats, he has three homers, seven strikeouts and no walks.

25. Philadelphia (17): Rookie Zach Eflin gives up nine runs, eight earned, in 2.2 innings in his debut and says, “It still was a dream come true.” Let’s see what he says after they flash his nightmare of a 27.00 ERA on the scoreboard before his next start.

26. Oakland (22): A’s starters have 17 wins, 8 by Rich Hill. Take away Hill’s 8-3, and A’s starters are 9-29 with a 5.89 ERA.

27. San Diego (28): Fernando Rodney, who had a 5.68 ERA for the Mariners last year and gave up his first earned run in 2015 — four of them — on April 12, still has yet to give up an earned run in 2016. Joaquin Andujar was right: Youneverknow.

28. Cincinnati (26): Adam Duvall, in a podcast with ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, on the chance of being an All-Star: “If I’m supposed to be on there, I’ll be on there.” Given that he’s on the 27-41 Reds and Joey Votto is hitting .248, he’ll be on there.

29. Minnesota (29): Twins starter Pat Dean gives up seven runs in 2.1 innings vs. Yankees on Friday night and gets some advice from manager Paul Molitor to use his changeup. He can practice it at AAA Rochester, where the Twins sent Dean after the game.

30. Atlanta (30): Freddie Freeman has 12 of Braves’ 29 home runs. No one else has more than three (Adonis Garcia, Tyler Flowers and Mallex Smith).

Sources: Kansascity.com, Baltimore sun.com, ESPN.com, MLB.com, baseballl-reference.com, latimes.cvom, mlive.com, sportsnet.ca, miamiherald.com, tampabay.com, chron.com, jsonline.com, startribune.com

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