12up Logo12up Logo

Biggest Red Flag for Every MLB Division Leader

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 17:   Luis Severino #40 of the New York Yankees looks on from the dugout in the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on April 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees | Elsa

Now past the midway point of June, the top dogs of the MLB have, for the most part, emerged. But even in their success, there's still plenty of baseball left to play, and there are still concerns that could be these division leaders' undoings down the stretch. Let's identify the most glaring red flag for baseball's six first-place teams.

1. Yankees: Luis Severino's Injury

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 19:   Luis Severino #40 of the New York Yankees warms up on the field prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on June 19, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees | Jim McIsaac

For all of the Yankees' success in the face of key injuries, they aren't going to get very far in the postseason without ace Luis Severino. He's yet to pitch in a game this year due to a rotator cuff injury, and isn't expected back until the middle of July at the earliest. If he doesn't come back healthy and ready to go, the Yanks will be in serious need of rotation help.

2. Twins: Bullpen

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 05: Blake Parker #38 of the Minnesota Twins walks off the field during the seventh inning after gving up three runs to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on June 05, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Indians | Ron Schwane

If there's one weak spot for the Minnesota Twins, it's their bullpen. The relief corps sports a middling 4.58 ERA, and there's not much help to look to in the farm system. Recent playoffs have shown the importance of having reliable relievers, something the Twins really don't have. Addressing the pen should be their primary concern moving forward.

3. Astros: Middle Infield Health

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 22: Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros receives congratulations from Jose Altuve #27 after hitting a three run home run in the seventh inning against the Minnesota Twins at Minute Maid Park on April 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Minnesota Twins v Houston Astros | Bob Levey

The Astros don't have that many areas of concern considering just how deep they are, but the health of their middle infielders has been a problem in 2019. Stars Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa have both struggled with injuries this year; Houston's lineup just isn't the same without the two of them doing their thing.

4. Braves: Starting Pitching

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JUNE 16:  Mike Foltynewicz #26 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at SunTrust Park on June 16, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves | Logan Riely

The addition of Dallas Keuchel helps the Braves tremendously, but half a season from one man can only do so much. Kevin Gausman sports an ERA of 6.21 and Mike Foltynewicz hasn't found his 2018 All-Star form, posting a 5.53 ERA of his own. If anything will be Atlanta's undoing, it will be the starters.

5. Cubs: Closer

DENVER, COLORADO - JUNE 10: Catcher Victor Caratini #7 and  Steve Cishek #41 of the Chicago Cubs confer in the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 10, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs v Colorado Rockies | Matthew Stockman

The Cubs have four separate relievers with multiple blown saves and eight with at least one. Steve Cishek sports an ERA of 6.14 since May 24 and Pedro Strop has been incredibly inconsistent. Chicago just hasn't been able to slam the door this year. They'd better hope Craig Kimbrel can remedy the situation.

6. Dodgers: Catcher

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 13: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs is tagged out by catcher Austin Barnes #15 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Dodger Stadium on June 13, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Dodgers | Kevork Djansezian

Perhaps the only flaw the Dodgers have sits behind the plate. After losing Yasmani Grandal in free agency, they've been unable to squeeze offensive production out of their backstops. Their catchers' combined 86 wRC+ ranks 18th in the MLB, creating an offensive hole in an otherwise sweet-swinging lineup.