With 50 games in the books, the pressure is starting to mount for teams to decide whether they are 2023 contenders. Although it’s only May, some teams that made it to the playoffs in 2022 are already experiencing a lacklustre start to the current season, which is a cause for concern.
While it’s still too early for teams to hit the panic button, their current performances have raised some eyebrows and generated doubts about their ability to make it to the playoffs once again.
In this article, we will take a closer look at six playoff teams from last year that need to be concerned about their performances thus far in the 2023 season.
Here are six teams that have not had the start to the season that they were hoping for:
St Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals’ World Series 2023 odds appear to be slim, with a current record of 21-28 and Fangraphs Playoff Odds of 42%. The team has experienced a dismal beginning to the season, failing to win the first game of a series until Monday night. Their pitching staff, particularly the rotation, has been problematic, and the All-Star catcher they signed to the largest free-agent contract in team history was demoted following a significant commotion.
Despite having skilled players such as Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, the Cardinals may face a challenging ascent to the playoffs this year.
The Mariners have a current record of 23-24 with a 19% chance of making the playoffs, according to Fangraphs. The team has been facing a challenging time finding momentum in a highly competitive division this season.
The absence of Robbie Ray has been a setback for them, and their off-season acquisitions of AJ Pollock, Teoscar Hernández, and Kolten Wong have not yielded the desired results thus far. Additionally, the highly-touted prospect Julio Rodríguez has been struggling with a batting average of just .204.
While the Mariners possess a lot of potential, they will have to elevate their performance significantly to secure a spot in the playoffs this year.
The Phillies’ current record is 22-25, and their current Fangraphs Playoff Odds are 39%. Although the Phillies have welcomed back Bryce Harper this season, they have encountered some obstacles along the way. Despite being expected to excel, the rotation has fallen short of expectations, and the bullpen has encountered familiar issues. If the Phillies hope to secure a playoff spot this year, they must improve their performances.
The Cleveland Guardians have a current record of 21-26 and a current Fangraphs Playoff Odds of 18%. So far this season, the Guardians’ offence has struggled to produce outside of José Ramírez, while the rotation has underperformed slightly. However, Logan Allen has been a pleasant surprise, and Shane Bieber is pitching at his usual high level.
There is still hope for the Guardians, as they are in the AL Central division, where the White Sox have struggled, and the Royals are among the worst teams in baseball. However, the success of the Guardians’ season will depend on whether Andrés Giménez and José Ramírez can get the offence going.
If the Guardians can stay competitive and the Twins continue to underperform, they have a good chance of staying in the race until the end of the season.
The Astros are currently 29-19, with an 83% chance of making the playoffs, according to Fangraphs. Their offence, which was once the most feared in baseball, has not lived up to expectations with underperformance from key players like Alex Bregman and Jose Abreu.
However, the return of Jose Altuve from the IL and potential improvements from struggling players provide hope. The pitching staff is not as deep as desired, but the Astros have a history of finding new talent.
Despite concerns that the team’s peak may be behind them, they are still the defending champs and have not missed the playoffs since 2016. Although the division has improved, the Astros are predicted to remain the top team and are expected to make a playoff appearance.
New York Mets
The New York Mets have had a rocky start to the season, with injuries and underperformance plaguing the team. However, they are still in a good position with a 25-23 record and a 63% chance of making the playoffs, according to Fangraphs.
The rotation has struggled, but the return of Justin Verlander and expected improvement from Max Scherzer and others provide reasons for hope. The offence has yet to click, but the talent is there, and the team is only 4.5 games out of first place. The Mets’ age is a concern, but they are still predicted to be a clear playoff team.
While it may be too early to panic, these six teams need to be concerned about their current performances if they want to make it to the playoffs again this year.