It’s time for another action-packed weekend of Major League Baseball! Cade Cavalli is set to make his MLB debut on Friday night for the Nationals, while I’ve highlighted three other massive series to monitor this weekend. What games are you going to watch this weekend?
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 81-45 (AL West Leaders)
2. New York Yankees 77-48 (AL East Leaders)
3. Cleveland Guardians 66-57 (AL Central Leaders)
4. Tampa Bay Rays 69-55 (Wildcard #1)
5. Toronto Blue Jays 68-55 (Wildcard #2)
6. Seattle Mariners 68-57 (Wildcard #3)
Baltimore Orioles 65-59 (2.5 GB in Wildcard)
Minnesota Twins 62-61 (4 GB in AL Central, 5 GB in Wildcard)
Chicago White Sox 63-62 (4 GB in AL Central, 5 GB in Wildcard)
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 86-37 (NL West Leaders)
2. New York Mets 80-46 (NL East Leaders)
3. St. Louis Cardinals 72-53 (NL Central Leaders)
4. Atlanta Braves 78-48 (Wildcard #1, 2 GB back in NL East)
5. Philadelphia Phillies 70-55 (Wildcard #2)
6. San Diego Padres 68-58 (Wildcard #3)
Milwaukee Brewers 65-58 (6 GB back in NL Central, 1.5 GB in Wildcard)
San Francisco Giants 61-62 (5.5 GB in Wildcard)
Three Series to Watch
1. Guardians (66-57, 1st AL Central) at Mariners (68-57, 2nd AL West)
Thursday, 4:10: Mariners W, 3-1
Friday, 10:10 (AppleTV+): Shane Bieber (8-7, 3.10 ERA) vs Logan Gilbert (10-5, 3.52 ERA)
Saturday, 10:10 (FS1): Zach Plesac (2-11, 4.43 ERA) vs Luis Castillo (5-5, 2.93 ERA)
Sunday, 4:10: Aaron Civale (2-5, 5.37 ERA) vs Robbie Ray (10-8, 3.75 ERA)
Cleveland at Seattle is major series between two playoff teams from small markets. The series opened on Thursday afternoon with a national broadcast free on Youtube as the Mariners scraped out a 3-1 victory behind Marco Gonzales’s pitching and Mitch Haniger’s first inning home run. The Mariners are currently in the AL’s final Wild Card spot and just 2.5 games ahead of those pesky Orioles. The Guardians are in control of the AL Central and have built a 4 game lead over both the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox.
2020 AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber pitches on Friday against a recently struggling Logan Gilbert, while Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale hope to get on the right track in the midst of disappointing seasons by their standards in the games on Saturday and Sunday. This series also features two of the three AL Rookie of the Year candidates as phenom Julio Rodriguez features for the Mariners while former Oregon State Beaver Steven Kwan features for the Guardians,
Two of these games will be on national broadcasts, with Friday’s being on AppleTV+ and Saturday’s airing on FS1.
2. Orioles (65-59, 4th AL East) at Astros (81-45, 1st AL West)
Friday, 8:10: Kyle Bradish (1-5, 6.25 ERA) vs Lance McCullers (1-1, 2.45 ERA)
Saturday, 7:10: Dean Kremer (5-4, 3.45 ERA) vs Jose Urquidy (12-4, 3.63 ERA)
Sunday, 2:10: Austin Voth (4-1, 4.73 ERA) vs Justin Verlander (16-3, 1.87 ERA)
The Orioles won yet another series this past week as they took two of three from the White Sox at home and remain just 2.5 games back in the AL Wild Card race. They’ll face one of their toughest tests of the season to date as they head to Houston to take on the Astros and former Orioles fan favorite Trey Mancini. The Astros just swept the Minnesota Twins and have won 4 in a row overall.
Austin Voth outdueled one AL Cy Young contender in Dylan Cease earlier in the week, and now he’ll get a chance to outduel the heavy favorite in Justin Verlander on Sunday. Voth is now 4-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 15 games (11 starts) for the Orioles since coming over from DC. The Astros pitching staff is about as good as its ever been and the Orioles are facing a tall order having to face McCullers, Urquidy, and Verlander but at least they avoid Framber Valdez.
If you’re in the MASN broadcast area, all three games will be on MASN.
3. Braves (78-48, 2nd NL East) at Cardinals (72-53, 1st NL Central)
Friday, 8:15 (MLB Network): Spencer Strider (7-4, 2.95 ERA) vs Jose Quintana (4-5, 3.45 ERA)
Saturday, 7:15 (FOX): Charlie Morton (6-5, 3.99 ERA) vs Jordan Montgomery (7-3, 3.08 ERA)
Sunday, 7:08 (ESPN): Jake Odorizzi (5-5, 3.95 ERA) vs Adam Wainwright (9-9, 3.11 ERA)
The Cardinals are the hottest team in baseball at 20-6 over their last 26 games and have built a 6-game lead in the NL Central over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Braves are right there with them at 19-7 over the same span with series wins over the Mets and Astros over the last 11 days. The Braves have managed to get to within 2 games of the New York Mets for the NL East lead. This is the premier series of the weekend and should be a fun one.
The Braves have the NL’s favorites to win the Rookie of the Year in Spencer Strider and Michael Harris. The former pitches on Friday in the series opener, while we should expect to see Harris play in all three games. For the Cardinals, Paul Goldschmidt is not just chasing his first MVP award, he’s chasing history in hopes of a Triple Crown, something that hasn’t been done in the National League since Joe Medwick in 1937. Currently Goldschmidt leads the NL in batting average (.339) and RBIs (105). He is second to the Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber (35) with 33 home runs.
All three games of this series will be available on national broadcasts.
The Rest of the Games
Reds (48-75) at Nationals (42-83)
Fri 7:05, Sat 7:05, Sun 1:35
The Nationals return to DC after going 3-3 during a West Coast road trip against two teams currently sitting in playoff positions. On Friday, they’ll have top pitching prospect Cade Cavalli making his MLB Debut against the Cincinnati Reds.
Rockies (54-72) at Mets (80-46)
Thu (Mets W), Fri 7:10, Sat 7:10, Sun 1:40
The Mets were swept by the Yankees during the week and have seen their NL East lead trimmed to just 2 games over the Atlanta Braves. deGrom pitched Thursday night in the Mets 3-1 win in the series opener against the Rockies and Chris Bassitt pitches Friday night with Max Scherzer pitching the finale on Sunday afternoon.
Yankees (77-48) at Athletics (46-80)
Thu (Yankees W), Fri 9:10, Sat 9:07, Sun 4:07 (MLB Network)
The Yankees got a massive 2-game sweep over their cross-town rivals during the week and then won Thursday’s series opener on the West Coast over the Oakland A’s. They’ve now won 3 in a row after a horrendous run of games following the All Star Break.
Dodgers (86-37) at Marlins (54-70)
Fri 6:40, Sat 6:10, Sun 12:05 (Peacock)
The Dodgers keep on racking up W’s and they’ll head to Miami for a 3-game series with the Marlins this weekend. They roughed up NL Cy Young favorite Sandy Alcantara last weekend and they’ll look to repeat that performance when they face him on Saturday night. Sunday’s finale will be the national broadcast on Peacock.
Pirates (47-77) at Phillies (70-55)
Fri 7:05, Sat 6:05, Sun 1:35
After a disappointing performance against the Mets last weekend, the Phillies got back on track with a 4-game sweep of the Reds. They’re 4-games clear in the Wild Card race and Bryce Harper is coming back.
Angels (52-73) at Blue Jays (68-55)
Fri 7:07, Sat 3:07, Sun 1:37 (MLB Network)
The Blue Jays just swept the Red Sox at Fenway over 3 games and now return home to face the Angels. Shoehei Ohtani pitches for the Angels on Saturday against Alek Manoah and should be a fun pitching matchup to watch.
Rays (69-55) at Red Sox (60-65)
Fri 7:10 (AppleTV+), Sat 4:10 (MLB Network), Sun 1:35
The Red Sox are effectively out of the Wild Card race after falling 5 games under .500 and 8 games behind the Mariners in the AL Wild Card. The Rays meanwhile are 4 games clear and currently possess the top AL Wild Card spot ahead of the Blue Jays and Mariners.
Tigers (48-77) at Rangers (57-67)
Fri 8:05, Sat 7:05, Sun 2:35
A pointless series to watch between two teams with nothing to play for.
Padres (68-58) at Royals (51-75)
Fri 8:10, Sat 7:10, Sun 2:10
The Padres made massive splashes at the Trade Deadline this year, but that hasn’t quite translated to a bunch of wins yet. They’re currently in the NL’s third Wild Card slot, but just 1.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers. They really could’ve used another bat like Fernando Tatis…
Giants (61-62) at Twins (62-61)
Fri 8:10, Sat 7:15, Sun 2:10
The Twins lost 3 of 4 to the hapless Texas Rangers and that was bad enough. But then they were swept by the AL’s best team in the Houston Astros and have now lost 6 in a row. They’re now 4 games behind the Guardians in the division and 5 games back in the Wild Card race. The Giants, on the flip side, continue to tread water and stay just on the cusp of the NL Wild Card, 5.5 games back of the Padres.
Diamondback (56-67) at White Sox (63-62)
Fri 8:10, Sat 7:10, Sun 2:10
When the White Sox split a big series with the Astros recently, it looked like it might propel them on a run that could salvage this disappointing series. Instead they’ve lost back-to-back series to the Guardians and Orioles respectively and sit 4 games back in the division and 5.5 games back in the AL Wild Card. A fun comeback story in Johnny Cueto (6-5, 2.58 ERA) pitches for the Sox on Friday night against the D-backs.
Cubs (54-71) at Brewers (65-58)
Fri 8:10, Sat 7:10, Sun 2:10
The Cubs are 13-8 over their last 21 games while the Brewers are 8-13 in the same span. They’ve only won a single series this month– a two game sweep of the Rays back on August 9th-10th. They’re 6 games back of the Cardinals in the division and 1.5 games back of the Padres for the final NL Wild Card spot. With their pitching they’ve got a shot, but they’ve got to take care of business against teams like the Cubs.