Well the Aces Wild weekend is in the books and there’s not much shuffling to be done in the playoff races quite yet. But this week we’ve got 5 head-to-head matchups going between teams in the playoff hunt. The Nationals have a somewhat evenly-matched opponent in the Cubs for three games, so they might really be worth watching this week. Especially considering CJ Abrams is set to make his Nationals debut. But if you’re looking for other matchups to watch this week, I’ve got you covered below.
Current Playoff Picture
This year will be the first year with expanded playoffs as the field as gone from 10 teams to 12. Gone are the one game Wild Cards, replaced with a Wild Card Round that pits the #3-6 seeds in each league in a best of 3 series with the higher seed hosting all three games of the series. The top 2 teams in each league will get a bye into the Divisional Round.
1. Houston Astros 75-41 (AL West Leaders)
2. New York Yankees 72-43 (AL East Leaders)
3. Cleveland Guardians 61-53 (AL Central Leaders)
4. Toronto Blue Jays 61-52 (Wildcard #1)
5. Seattle Mariners 62-54 (Wildcard #2)
6. Tampa Bay Rays 60-53 (Wildcard #3)
Baltimore Orioles 59-55 (1.5 GB in Wildcard)
Minnesota Twins 58-55 (2.5 GB in AL Central, 2 GB in Wildcard
Chicago White Sox 59-56 (2.5 GB in AL Central, 2 GB in Wildcard)
Boston Red Sox 57-59 (4.5 GB in Wild Card)
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 79-34 (NL West Leaders)
2. New York Mets 75-40 (NL East Leaders)
3. St. Louis Cardinals 63-51 (NL Central Leaders)
4. Atlanta Braves 70-46 (Wildcard #1)
5. San Diego Padres 65-52 (Wildcard #2)
6. Philadelphia Phillies 63-51 (Wildcard #3)
Milwaukee Brewers 61-52 (1.5 GB back in NL Central, 1.5 GB in Wildcard)
San Francisco Giants 56-57 (6 GB in Wildcard)
Four Series to Watch
1. Rays (60-53, 3rd AL East) at Yankees (72-43, 1st AL East)
Monday, 7:05: Jalen Beeks (2-1, 2.35) vs Gerrit Cole (9-4, 3.38 ERA)
Tuesday, 7:05 (TBS): Jeffrey Springs (4-3, 2.56 ERA) vs Nestor Cortes (9-3, 2.67 ERA)
Wednesday, 7:05: Corey Kluber (7-7, 4.40 ERA) vs Domingo German (1-2, 4.18 ERA)
The New York Yankees have lost another series over the weekend and are now 8-15 since the All Star Break. They’re still very comfortable with a double digit lead atop the AL East, but this slide is concerning for their hopes in October. The Rays, on the other hand, had an up-and-down week after being swept in a short 2-game series to the Brewers before bouncing back and winning 2 of 3 from red-hot Baltimore. The Rays are now 1.5 games up on the Orioles for the third AL Wild Card spot, but just 1 game behind the Blue Jays for the top Wild Card spot.
The Rays will go with an Opener on Monday against Gerrit Cole as Jalen Beeks makes his 7th start of the year for the Rays. The Yankees will miss having to face 2022 All Star Shane McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen, who nearly had a no hitter against the Orioles on Sunday afternoon. The Yankees will be going with their top two pitchers on Monday and Tuesday in Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes, so you’d expect it to be Yankees advantage.
Rays shortstop Wander Franco has started taking batting practice and should be ready for a rehab assignment soon. Randy Arozarena might be heating up as he’s hit 3 home runs over his last 7 games. Meanwhile Aaron Judge continues to rake as he hit his 46th home of the year over the weekend and new acquisition Andrew Benintendi might be breaking out his slump as he has hits in each of his last three games. And I know Yankee fans are finally glad to see Isaiah Kiner-Falafa finally hit his first home for the team.
The Tuesday game will be on TBS starting at 7:00. The other two games can be seen on MLBtv.
2. Orioles (59-55, 4th AL East) at Blue Jays (61-52, 2nd AL East)
Monday, 7:07: Kyle Bradish (1-4, 6.42 ERA) vs Yusei Kikuchi (4-6, 5.13 ERA)
Tuesday, 7:07: Dean Kremer (4-4, 3.69 ERA) vs Alek Manoah (12-5, 2.56 ERA)
Wednesday, 3:07: Austin Voth (3-1, 5.34 ERA) vs Ross Stripling (5-3, 3.16 ERA)
For the third preview in a row, the Orioles are highlighted in the “big series” section. The Orioles have now lost 3 of 4 after a hot streak and find themselves 1.5 games back of the Rays for the final AL Wild Card spot. The Blue Jays likewise have been struggling, losing 4 of their last 5 which included two games to the Orioles at Camden Yards last week.
Kyle Bradish is pitching better as of late but did just give up 3 earned runs to the Blue Jays last time out in only 5.1 innings. Dean Kremer had a rough time at Fenway last time out, but did have a dazzling performance against the Pirates recently where he went 6.1 shutout innings. And Former National Austin Voth gets the nod in the finale on Wednesday after starting with 5 no hit innings against the Tampa Bay Rays last time out before giving up a 2-run homer to Randy Arozarena. Voth is now 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA in 13 games (9 starts) for the O’s since coming over from DC.
None of the games will be on national broadcasts, but are available on MASN or to stream through MLBtv if you live outside the blackout area.
3. Mets (75-40, 1st NL East) at Braves (70-46, 2nd NL East)
Monday, 7:20: Carlos Carrasco (13-4, 3.75 ERA) vs Spencer Strider (6-4, 3.11 ERA)
Tuesday, 7:20: Taijuan Walker (10-3, 3.43 ERA) vs Charlie Morton (5-5, 4.26 ERA)
Wednesday, 7:20: Max Scherzer (8-2, 1.93 ERA) vs Jake Odorizzi (4-4, 3.80 ERA)
Thursday, 7:20: Jacob deGrom (2-0, 1.62 ERA) vs TBD
The New York Mets just keep winning. They took two of three from a hot Phillies team over the weekend and lead the Braves by 5.5 games in the NL East. And that’s despite the Braves being in the midst of a 6-game winning streak.
Spencer Strider was roughed up by the Mets 8 days ago in Queens and he’ll be looking to bounce back in a big way against Carlos Carrasco on Monday night. And the Braves will really want to take care of business Monday and Tuesday night because if not, the pressure to win against Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom will be immense.
None of the games will be on national broadcasts for some reason, but are available to stream through MLBtv.
4. Astros (75-41, 1st AL West) at White Sox (59-56, 3rd AL Central)
Monday, 8:10 (FS1): Jose Urquidy (11-4, 3.85 ERA) vs Johnny Cueto (4-5, 2.91 ERA)
Tuesday, 8:10: Justin Verlander (15-3, 1.85 ERA) vs Dylan Cease (12-5, 1.96 ERA)
Wednesday, 8:10: Framber Valdez (11-4, 2.73 ERA) vs Michael Kopech (4-8, 3.18 ERA)
Thursday, 2:10: Luis Garcia (9-8. 4.03 ERA) vs Lucas Giolito (9-6, 4.92 ERA)
The Astros beat up on the Rangers and Astros last week to get to 75-41, which is good enough for best in the American League. The White Sox, after losing 3 of 4 to the Royals, swept the Tigers and now sit 59-56, which puts them 2.5 games behind the Guardians in the AL Central and 2.5 games behind the Rays in the AL Wild Card race. So this 4-game series with the Houston Astros at home is massive for the Tony LaRussa and the White Sox.
If there’s one game to watch this week, it might be Tuesday’s match-up between the Astros and White Sox because it’s got one hell of a pitching matchup. The two AL Cy Young frontrunners, Justin Verlander of the Astros and Dylan Cease of the White Sox, are going head-to-head and it should electric. Expect a lot of swings and misses and a low scoring game.
Cease and all of White Sox pitching will have their work cut out for them having to face Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, and Alex Bregman all week. For the White Sox, Luis Robert is day-to-day with a sprained wrist but supposedly isn’t heading to the IL. Tim Anderson is still injured and Yasmani Grandal and Yoan Moncada’s poor performances somewhat encapsulates what’s been a disappointing 2022 campaign for the White Sox so far. But a big series win over the Astros this week could propel them to a big finish, so who knows.
The Monday night showdown between the Astros and White Sox will be on FS1 while the Sunday finale will be on MLB Network. All three of the other games will be available on MLBtv.
The Rest of the Games
Cubs (47-66) at Nationals (38-78)
Mon 7:05, Tue 7:05, Wed 1:05
The Nationals and Cubs meet again after playing each other in Chicago last week. The big news for the Nationals is that CJ Abrams, the #1 prospect from the Juan Soto/Josh Bell trade, is set to be called up and make his Nats’ debut on Monday night, weather permitting.
Tigers (43-73) at Guardians (61-53)
Mon 3:10 (MLB Network), Mon TBD, Tue 7:10, Wed 7:10
The Guardians have won 7 of 8 and find themselves 2.5 games clear of the Twins and White Sox for the AL Central lead. Their pitching has been elite and the look to sweep the Tigers in this 4-game series that includes a doubleheader on Monday.
Phillies (63-51) at Reds (45-68)
Mon 6:40, Tue 6:40, Wed 12:35
The Reds were swept by the Mets last week so the Phillies will be hoping to do the same as they look to rebound after losing a tough series in Queens over the weekend.
Padres (65-52) at Marlins (50-65)
Mon 6:40, Tue 6:40, Wed 4:10 (MLB Network)
The Padres World Series chances took a hit with the Fernando Tatis Jr. news, but they stayed focused over the weekend and took two of three from the Nationals in Juan Soto and Josh Bell’s return to DC. The Marlins, on the other hand, were swept in 4 games by the Braves and will look to Sandy Alcantara to bounce back against the Joe Musgrove and the Padres starting Monday.
Royals (48-68) at Twins (58-55)
Mon 7:40, Tue 7:40, Wed 1:10 (MLB Network)
The Twins are struggling and now find themselves 2.5 games back of the Guardians for the AL Central and 2 games back in the AL Wild Card race. Rookie Joe Ryan takes the bump on Monday, and he’s been roughed up in two of his last three starts. He’ll be hoping an outing against the Royals gets himself back on track.
Athletics (41-74) at Rangers (51-63)
Mon 8:05, Tue 8:05, Wed 8:05, Thu 2:05
It’s a 4-game series between two non-competitive teams so there’s not much to talk about.
Dodgers (79-34) at Brewers (61-52)
Mon 8:10, Tue 8:10, Wed 8:10 (FS1), Thu 2:10 (MLB Network)
The Dodgers had their 12 game winning streak snapped by the Royals on Sunday while the Brewers dropped a crucial series against the Cardinals that had a big impact on the NL Central Standings. The Brewers now sit 1.5 games back in both the NL Central and NL Wild Card race. Now they’ll have to scuffle against the league’s best for 4 games while the Cards host not so good Colorado Rockies.
Mariners (62-54) at Angels (51-64)
Mon 9:38 (MLBN at 11), Tue 9:38 (MLB Network), Wed 4:07
The Mariners beat the Yankees to start their week and then dropped a seemingly easy series to the Texas Rangers. Julio Rodriguez is back in the lineup and the offense looks healthy for the first time in a while. They have a nice stretch against the Angels, A’s, and Nats over the next 8 games. You’d expect them to go at least 6-2 in those games. Shohei Ohtani pitches for the Angels on Monday night which should be a fun watch.
Diamondbacks (53-61) at Giants (57-57)
Mon 9:45, Tue 9:45, Wed 9:45 (MLBN at 11), Thu 3:45
The Giants are back to .500 and host the Diamondbacks, who have been playing pretty well lately. The Giants are hanging around the edges of the NL Wild Card race after sweeping the Pirates over the weekend and are 6 games back of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Red Sox (57-59) at Pirates (45-70)
Tue 7:05, Wed 7:05, Thu 7:05
Like the Giants, the Red Sox are hanging around the edges of a Wild Card race and are 4.5 games back of the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League. They just won a crucial series over their arch-rivals the New York Yankees, and will get Monday off before taking on the woeful Pittsburgh Pirates, who were swept by the Giants over the weekend.
Rockies (51-66) at Cardinals (63-51)
Tue 7:45, Wed 7:45, Thu 1:15
The Cardinals lost a series to the Rockies last week that allowed the Brewers to get within a half game of the NL Central lead, but Paul Goldschmidt and company bounced back to take two of three from the Brewers to reclaim a 1.5 game lead in the division. A home series against Colorado should go better than the road series did as the Cardinals look to gain ground on the Brewers while Milwaukee is playing the Dodgers for 4 games.