The All-Star break is a double-edged sword for MLB clubs, giving struggling teams a chance to regroup and acting as a rather large speed bump for those on a roll.
Here are three teams who could be hurt by the break and three which could benefit the most from some time off:
Hurt by the break
Tampa Bay Rays (51-40, +3.36 units)
Tampa Bay is finally gaining ground in the AL East, winning six straight and 10 of its last 11 games heading into Wednesday. The Rays have benefited from some weak competition, facing the Astros, White Sox, and Twins in their final 14 games before the break. They hit the road for a 10-game divisional tour after the holiday, at Toronto, Boston and New York.
Oakland Athletics (54-37, +14.67 units)
The A’s normally wait until well after the All-Star break to really get rolling. But this year, Oakland started hot and leads the AL West by half a game heading into Wednesday. It’s won seven of its last 10 games, knocking off the Cubs, Royals and Pirates and closes with a three-game home set vs. Boston before the break. A six-game road trip awaits following the All-Star Game.
Los Angeles Dodgers (44-45, -9.72 units)
The Dodgers have come back from the dead in recent weeks, thanks to the hot-hitting of rookie Yasiel Puig and the return of Hanley Ramirez. Los Angeles has won eight of its last 10 and has climbed to second in the NL West. While the downtime does allow Matt Kemp more time to heal from a shoulder ailment it’s a huge momentum stopper, with a six-game eastern road trip on deck after the break.
Helped by the break
San Francisco Giants (40-49, -15.31 units)
My how the mighty have fallen. The defending World Series champs are counting the days to the All-Star break after picking up just three wins in their last 18 games, sinking to the bottom of the NL West and dropping in the MLB money rankings. San Francisco closes out the first half of the sked on the road against the Padres. The break will allow the Giants to heal up and clear their heads before another strong second-half run.
Pittsburgh Pirates (53-36, +21.98 units)
Bettors were waiting for the other shoe to drop when it came to the Bucs’ hot 2013. The Pirates have lost four in a row and are just 4-6 in their last 10 games heading into Wednesday, watching the Cardinals jump them in the NL Central standings. Pittsburgh opens the post-break slate with a 10-game road swing to Cincinnati, Washington and Miami.
Toronto Blue Jays (43-46, -2.58 units)
The Jays are looking forward to a fresh start after the break. The first chunk of 2013 was up and down and leaves them at the bottom of the AL East. However, this team saw how good it could be with an 11-game winning streak and the break should help rush some key bats and pitchers back into action for a post-ASG push. Toronto can gain ground with a 10-game home stand following the hiatus.