What a weekend of baseball! We’re now into late August and for most teams there’s 50 games or left in the schedule to make a run at the postseason. This week, we have a lot of short 2-game series and interleague play headlined by the Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees in New York. The Orioles, Twins, and White Sox continue to chase a playoff spot, while the Rays, Mariners, and Blue Jays are all tied for the three Wild Card spots in the American League. In the National League, the Braves have suddenly re-appeared in the NL East race, while the Brewers likely turn their focus to the Wild Card race after falling 5 games behind the red hot St. Louis Cardinals. The Nationals are in Seattle for 2 games, including a 10:10 start on Tuesday, so if you’re looking for what other games and matchups to watch this week, look no further. I’ve got you covered.
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 78-45 (AL West Leaders)
2. New York Yankees 74-48 (AL East Leaders)
3. Cleveland Guardians 64-56 (AL Central Leaders)
4. Seattle Mariners 65-55 (Wildcard #1/2/3)
5. Toronto Blue Jays 65-55 (Wildcard #1/2/3)
6. Tampa Bay Rays 66-56 (Wildcard #1/2/3)
Minnesota Twins 62-57 (1.5 GB in AL Central, 2.5 GB in Wildcard)
Baltimore Orioles 63-58 (2.5 GB in Wildcard)
Chicago White Sox 62-59 (2.5 GB in AL Central, 3.5 GB in Wildcard)
Boston Red Sox 60-62 (6 GB in Wild Card)
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 84-36 (NL West Leaders)
2. New York Mets 79-44 (NL East Leaders)
3. St. Louis Cardinals 69-51 (NL Central Leaders)
4. Atlanta Braves 75-48 (Wildcard #1, 4 GB back in NL East)
5. San Diego Padres 68-56 (Wildcard #2)
6. Philadelphia Phillies 66-55 (Wildcard #3)
Milwaukee Brewers 64-56 (5 GB back in NL Central, 1.5 GB in Wildcard)
San Francisco Giants 60-61 (6 GB in Wildcard)
Four Series to Watch
1. Mets (79-44, 1st NL East) at Yankees (74-48, 1st AL East)
Monday, 7:05 (MLB Network): Max Scherzer (9-2, 2.15 ERA) vs Domingo German (1-2, 4.45 ERA)
Tuesday, 7:05 (TBS): TBD vs Frankie Montas (4-10, 3.87 ERA)
The New York Yankees are in a complete free fall. They are 10-20 since the All Star Break and 4-12 since August 2nd. The Mets on the other hand, are finding ways to keep on rolling, despite a small blip last week in Atlanta. They managed to take 3 of 4 from Philly over the weekend, despite not having 4 of their top 5 starters pitching in that series. Now, they’ll have Max Scherzer going on Monday and likely Jacob deGrom going on Tuesday against a reeling Yankees offense. The Mets should be able to sweep the season series against the Yankees.
Both of these games will be on national broadcasts, with Monday’s being the showcase game on MLB Network and Tuesday’s airing on TBS.
2. Brewers (64-56, 2nd NL Central) at Dodgers (84-36, 1st NL West)
Monday, 10:10: Eric Lauer (8-5, 3.58 ERA) vs Julio Urias (13-6, 2.40 ERA)
Tuesday, 10:10: Corbin Burnes (9-5, 2.48 ERA) vs Tony Gonsolin (15-1, 2.12 ERA)
Wednesday, 9:00 (MLB Network): Aaron Ashby (2-10, 4.58 ERA) vs Andrew Heaney (1-1, 1.77 ERA)
The Milwaukee Brewers managed to split a 4-game series against the Dodgers last week before losing a series at Wrigley to the Chicago Cubs. They now sit 5 games behind the red hot Cardinals for the NL Central and 1.5 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the NL Wild Card. The Dodgers just swept the Marlins and roughed up NL Cy Young favorite Sandy Alcantara in the process.
The Brewers do have the pitching to pull off a series upset but I don’t like those odds with Eric Lauer and Aaron Ashby pitching two of the three games. Tuesday’s pitching matchup between Corbin Burnes and Tony Gonsolin should be fantastic, and I would recommend tuning in for that one.
If you’re looking for good hitting matchups for Monday’s game, Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner is hitting .417 career against Eric Lauer with 2 home runs while Cody Bellinger is hitting .333 with home run against Lauer in his career.
Wednesday’s series finale will be on MLB Network, although it is scheduled to start broadcasting at 10pm rather than when the game starts at 9:00.
3. White Sox (62-59, 3rd AL Central) at Orioles (63-58, 3rd AL East)
Tuesday, 7:05: TBD vs Austin Voth (3-1, 4.86 ERA)
Wednesday, 7:05 (FS1): Lucas Giolito (9-7, 5.34 ERA) vs Spenser Watkins (4-3, 4.04 ERA)
Thursday, 7:05: Lance Lynn (3-5, 5.30 ERA) vs Jordan Lyles (9-9, 4.61 ERA)
The White Sox ended up going 3-3 last week in massive series against the Houston Astros and the Cleveland Guardians, respectively. They sit 2.5 games behind the Guardians in the Central and 3.5 behind the AL Wild Card race. The Orioles won both of their AL East showdowns last week over the Blue Jays and Red Sox but lost their one-game makeup to the Cubs to go 4-3. They are just 2.5 games back in the Wild Card and looking to make a run behind the likes of Anthony Santander (who is having a career year) and AL Rookie of the Year candidate Adley Rutschman.
The unfortunate thing for the Orioles is that because of the rainout of the White Sox/Guardians game on Sunday, Dylan Cease will now most likely pitch in the series opener on Tuesday night against former Washington National Austin Voth. Michael Kopech is slated to pitch Monday in a one-game makeup against the Royals before the Sox get to Baltimore. The O’s best chances for wins will come on Wednesday and Thursday when they face the struggling Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn.
Wednesday’s game will be on FS1 but if you’re in the MASN broadcast area, all three games will be on MASN.
4. Guardians (64-56, 1st AL Central) at Padres (68-56, 2nd NL West)
Tuesday, 9:40: Aaron Civale (2-5, 5.63 ERA) vs Mike Clevinger (4-4, 3.63 ERA)
Wednesday, 4:10 (MLB Network): Cal Quantrill (9-5, 3.77 ERA) vs TBD
The Guardians split their games last week, going 3-3 against the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox and maintaining a slim 1.5 game lead over the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central. The Padres didn’t have a great week but still managed to go 3-4 over that span and pass the Phillies for the NL’s second Wild Card.
The Padres had a big opportunity to make up some ground and pad their record with 7 games against the Marlins and Nationals. Instead their bats went cold and they only scored more than 3 runs once against the two NL East teams. Josh Hader lost two games against the MLB-worst Washington Nationals and they had to scrape and claw just to split that series at home. So the Guardians should be looking to try and take both games on the road here, despite a struggling Aaron Civale on the mound on Tuesday night.
Wednesday’s game will be available on MLB Network and both games will be available on MLBtv.
The Rest of the Games
Nationals (41-82) at Mariners (66-56)
Tue 10:10, Wed 4:10
A short 2-game interleague series in lovely Seattle as the Mariners try to stay in the AL Wild Card spots. The Blue Jays, Rays and Mariners are all currently tied for the 3 spots, 2.5 games ahead of the Twins and Orioles. Erick Fedde returns to the Nats and will pitch on Tuesday against former Nationals farmhand and 2021 AL Cy Young Winner Robbie Ray, while 2019 World Champion Anibal Sanchez pitches Wednesday against rookie George Kirby.
Reds (48-71) at Phillies (66-55)
Mon 7:05, Tue 7:05, Wed 7:05, Thu 7:05
The Phillies were in prime position to split a 4-game series with the Mets, but ended up losing the finale on Sunday 10-9. Now they’ll look to rebound against the hapless Reds, who the Phillies took two of three from last week in Cincy. This week they’ll be eyeing a sweep. They are currently in the third NL Wild Card spot, just 1.5 games ahead of the Brewers.
Braves (75-48) at Pirates (47-74)
Mon 7:05, Tue 7:05, Wed 12:35
The Braves are on the warpath after going 5-2 against the Mets and Astros last week, trimming the Mets’ NL East lead to just 4 games. Now they’ll get a 3-game set against the “hodgepodge of nothingness” that is the Pittsburgh Pirates before a big series against the red hot Cardinals in St. Louis over the weekend.
Angels (52-69) at Rays (65-55)
Mon 7:10, Tue 7:10, Wed 7:10, Thu 1:10
Ohtani won’t pitch in this series so if that’s what you’re looking for, you can pass. Otherwise it’s a big series for the Rays to try and gain some separation in the AL Wild Card race. The Blue Jays, Rays and Mariners are all currently tied for the 3 spots, and just 2.5 games ahead of the Twins and Orioles.
Cardinals (69-51) at Cubs (52-68)
Mon 8:05, Tue 2:20 (MLBN), Tue 8:05, Wed 8:05, Thu 2:20 (MLBN)
It’s a 5-game series for one of the best rivalries in baseball which includes a day/night doubleheader on Tuesday. The Cardinals are 17-4 over their last 21 games and 19-7 since the All Star Break. MVP candidates Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado continue to go off while Albert Pujols continues his quest for 700 home runs. The Cubs have actually been decent lately and are 11-5 since August 5th which includes a series win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Marlins (52-69) at Athletics (45-77)
Mon 9:40, Tue 9:40, Wed 3:37
With Sandy Alcantara not pitching in this series after being roughed up by the Dodgers, there’s pretty much no reason to tune into this series if you’re not an A’s or Marlins fan.
Giants (60-61) at Tigers (47-76)
Tue 7:10, Wed 1:10 (MLBN)
The Giants lost a disappointing series at home to the Rockies and are once again 6 games back in the NL Wild Card race. They remain a long shot at the postseason and appear to be the definition of a .500 ballclub. Aces Carlos Rodon and Logan Webb will pitch for them against the Tigers and they should be expecting a 2-game series sweep in Detroit.
Blue Jays (65-55) at Red Sox (60-62)
Tue 7:10, Wed 7:10, Thu 7:10 (MLBN)
The Blue Jays were struggling badly when they got to the Bronx last week after going 2-6 against the Orioles and Guardians, but facing the free falling Yankees were just what the doctor ordered. They took three of four from the Bronx Bombers. The Blue Jays, Rays and Mariners are all currently tied for the 3 spots, 2.5 games ahead of the Twins and Orioles. The Red Sox are hanging around at the edge of the AL Wild Card race and are 6 games back now after a series loss to the Orioles.
Diamondbacks (55-66) at Royals (49-74)
Tue 8:10, Wed 8:10
Not much reason to tune into this series between two bad teams but it is worth noting that the Diamondbacks are actually 15-14 since the All Star Break and the Royals have some exciting young players which includes Bobby Witt Jr.
Astros (78-45) at Twins (62-57)
Tue 8:10 (MLBN), Wed 8:10, Thu 8:10
Another big series that didn’t get highlighted above, the Astros head to Minnesota after going 3-4 last week in Chicago and Atlanta. AL Cy Young favorite Justin Verlander will pitch on Tuesday night in a game that will be available to view on MLB Network. The Twins are finishing up a four game series on Monday against the Rangers and are hoping to get a series split after losing on Saturday and Sunday. The Twins are currently 1.5 games behind the Guardians in the AL Central and 2.5 games behind the Rays, Blue Jays, and Mariners in the AL Wild Card.
Rangers (55-66) at Rockies (53-70)
Tue 8:40, Wed 3:10
Another series with not much to look out for. Two bad teams facing each other with their eyes looking towards next year and the future beyond.