The second half of the 2021 MLB season is about to start.
Teams are getting ready to resume division and Wild Card races.
What are the most fascinating storylines to follow in the second half in the National League?
Here are three of them.
3. Can The Braves Survive Acuña’s Injury?
This past weekend, Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. suffered a complete tear of his ACL while chasing a ball in the outfield.
The injury will knock him out for the entire 2021 season, and puts a cloud on his 2022 status.
If everything goes well, though, he should be ready by next season.
Still, the Braves had high hopes for 2021.
Lose Acuña. Lose Soroka. Lose All-Star Game. D’Arnaud injury. Ozuna injury/arrest.
This #Braves season has been blow after blow after blow.
— Cory McCartney (@coryjmccartney) July 11, 2021
They are currently 44-45, just four games out of first place.
In theory, they are still close to a postseason spot, and overtaking the New York Mets for the division lead is certainly not impossible.
But doing it without Acuña and Marcell Ozuna, who is currently going through legal issues stemming from a domestic violence incident, seems like a tall task.
Freddie Freeman will have to return to his MVP ways and the rotation needs to get healthier, as it is currently missing Huascar Ynoa, Tucker Davidson, and Ian Anderson, with Mike Soroka already lost for the year.
Surviving Acuña’s injury seems like a long-shot this year.
2. Will the Cubs Sell Some Assets Or Completely Rebuild?
The Chicago Cubs front office has insisted that they will not rebuild.
They will, however, act as sellers as the trade deadline approaches.
The Cubs are indeed planning on being sellers this month, according to sources. Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel appear to be the most likely trade candidates, though others (Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez) could also be available. @Ken_Rosenthal and @PJ_Mooney were all over it.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 9, 2021
For the Cubs, though, retooling for next year doesn’t make too much sense if they are going to sell all assets with contracts ending in 2021.
Closer Craig Kimbrel, who is having quite the resurgence season, has a team option for 2022, so he could have some value, too.
Chicago doesn’t seem too inclined to extend any of them, and if they are not going to be part of their future and they won’t contend this year, it makes sense to trade them.
And if you trade them all, it would be very hard to compete next year even if they don’t play in the strongest division.
Bryant seems gone at this point, but there haven’t been many indications as to whether the Cubs will also negotiate Rizzo, Baez, or Kimbrel.
It remains something to keep an eye on with the MLB trade deadline two weeks away.
1. How Much Longer Can The Giants Hold Off The Dodgers And Padres?
The San Francisco Giants are currently 57-32, and top the NL West division against all odds.
San Francisco, entering the season, was viewed as a good team, but no one thought they could hang with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.
Here they are, besting both of them after half the season.
How long can it last?
That’s one of the most fascinating storylines in the NL for the second half.
With the current state of MLB, there is a strong chance the three teams make it into October.
However, it is not a given.
Can the Giants keep the division lead for the remainder of the season?
They also developed Kevin Gausman into a legitimate MLB ace.
However, the Dodgers are getting healthier, and they are close to getting Corey Seager back.
The Padres are a dangerous team, too, and they have Fernando Tatis Jr., so anything can happen.
The NL West race will be electrifying all year.NEXT: 3 Top American League Storylines As MLB Second Half Begins