The Litmus Test
So, as you’ve probably heard once or ten thousand times, the M’s upcoming road trip is going to be a challenge. The Dodgers sport the best record in baseball, and if they aren’t the best team in baseball, then that honor probably belongs to the Red Sox or Yankees, who we just happen to play after we finish up this weekend. You won’t be seeing Josh Geer or Wade LeBlanc anymore.
It sounds like hyperbole, but this road trip, followed by a seven game homestand that finishes with four games against Texas before the All-Star break, will essentially determine the rest of the M’s season. They play 16 games in 17 days against four teams who would make the playoffs if the season ended today, and they have to fly across the country a couple of times in order to do it. This isn’t just the hardest stretch of schedule for the M’s – this is about as tough of a 2 1/2 weeks of baseball as you could possibly have to play.
So, the M’s did well to load up on wins against San Diego and Arizona, as they’re about to get much tougher to come by. Realistically, 8-8 would be a huge accomplishment and send the team into the all-star break at 45-43, presumably still without shouting distance of the lead in the A.L. West. At that point, if Bedard actually has made a couple of starts without breaking down again and the team had just finished holding their own against the best teams in baseball, Zduriencik would have some reason to try to add pieces to help this team win this year. Anything better than 8-8 (assuming that LA/Texas don’t go nuts over the same stretch) will make it very easy for the M’s to keep the roster intact and make a run at it this year.
However, we also have to acknowledge that there’s a real chance that the M’s just get their butts handed to them between now and then. Honestly, 4-12 or something wouldn’t shock me. They could easily get steamrolled by this stretch of schedule. This isn’t the kind of pitching staff that you want to throw at Boston or New York on the road – the flyball oriented nature of most of these guys means we could see a lot of home runs allowed on the road trip, and the M’s don’t have the offense to play big ball with those boys.
Really, over the next couple of weeks, we have to change our expectations of what success is. If they can win as many as they lose, the team should have a party. This is one of those times where you just try to survive.