It’s time for another action-packed week of Major League Baseball! The Nationals host the A’s in a match-up of the league’s two worst teams while I’ve highlighted three other massive series with playoff implications to monitor this week. What games are you going to watch?
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 82-47 (AL West Leaders)
2. New York Yankees 78-50 (AL East Leaders)
3. Cleveland Guardians 67-59 (AL Central Leaders)
4. Tampa Bay Rays 70-57 (Wildcard #1)
5. Seattle Mariners 70-58 (Wildcard #2)
6. Toronto Blue Jays 68-58 (Wildcard #3)
Baltimore Orioles 67-60 (1.5 GB in Wildcard)
Minnesota Twins 65-61 (2 GB in AL Central, 3 GB in Wildcard)
Chicago White Sox 63-65 (5 GB in AL Central, 6 GB in Wildcard)
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 88-38 (NL West Leaders)
2. New York Mets 82-47 (NL East Leaders)
3. St. Louis Cardinals 74-54 (NL Central Leaders)
4. Atlanta Braves 79-50 (Wildcard #1, 3 GB back in NL East)
5. Philadelphia Phillies 72-56 (Wildcard #2)
6. San Diego Padres 70-59 (Wildcard #3)
Milwaukee Brewers 67-59 (6 GB back in NL Central, 1.5 GB in Wildcard)
San Francisco Giants 61-65 (7.5 GB in Wildcard)
Three Series to Watch
1. Padres (70-55, 2nd NL West) at Giants (61-65, 3rd NL West)
Monday, 9:45: Mike Clevinger (4-5, 3.59 ERA) vs Carlos Rodon (12-6, 2.81 ERA)
Tuesday, 9:45: Blake Snell (5-7, 4.24 ERA) vs Logan Webb (11-7, 3.33 ERA)
Wednesday, 3:45: Joe Musgrove (8-6, 2.96 ERA) vs Alex Wood (8-11, 5.00 ERA)
Normally this would not be a series getting top billing but there aren’t a ton of playoff hopeful teams facing off during the week this week, so Padres vs Giants gets to be highlighted in my Top 3 Series to Watch segment.
The Padres are coming off a 2-3 week after being swept at home in a 2-game series to the Guardians and taking 2 of 3 from the Kansas City Royals. They currently hold the NL’s final Wild Card spot but are just 1.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Giants have lost 4 in a row having been swept over the weekend by the Minnesota Twins and now sit at 61-65 on the year, 7.5 games behind the Padres for the NL Wild Card.
Looking at the pitching match-ups for this series makes it a tricky matchup for the Padres as they’ll have to face Carlos Rodon and Logan Webb in the first two games. They will have the advantage in the finale on Wednesday, however, as Joe Musgrove faces the struggling Alex Wood. The Padres have been disappointing since their major acquisitions at the trade deadline, and the pressure will only get worse if they fail to win this series at San Francisco.
For some reason, none of these game look like they will be national broadcasts so you’ll have to settle for MLBtv if you want to watch.
2. Orioles (67-60, 4th AL East) at Guardians (67-59, 1st AL Central)
Tuesday, 6:10: Spenser Watkins (4-4, 3.96 ERA) vs Cal Quantrill (10-5, 3.59 ERA)
Wednesday, 6:10: Jordan Lyles (9-9, 4.45 ERA) vs Tristan McKenzie (9-10, 3.17 ERA)
Thursday, 6:10: Kyle Bradish (2-5, 5.63 ERA) vs Shane Bieber (8-7, 3.02 ERA)
The Orioles continue to be featured as they face yet another playoff hopeful in the AL Central leading Cleveland Guardians. The O’s are coming off a major series win over the Astros in Houston despite a stagnant offense. They Guardians had a West Coast road trip that started strong with a 2-game sweep of the Padres before fizzling out in Seattle and losing 3 of 4. They are still 2 games ahead of the Twins in the division, while the Orioles are within 1.5 games of the Blue Jays for the AL Wild Card’s final spot.
The Orioles got incredible starting pitching over the weekend as Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, and Austin Voth combined to go 21.2 innings and only gave up 1 earned run in the series. Orioles pitching has really turned a corner recently, particularly with the aforementioned three. Expect another low scoring series as the Guardians counter Wakins, Lyles, and Bradish with Cal Quantrill, Tristan McKenzie, and 2020 AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber.
As big as the Dodgers/Mets series is, both of those teams are going to the playoffs, no doubt about it. But the Orioles and Guardians are far from guaranteed and for that reason, makes this the bigger series for me.
If you’re in the MASN broadcast area, all three games will be on MASN. If you’re outside the MASN area, then it looks like none of these three games will be national broadcasts so you’ll have to settle for MLBtv.
3. Dodgers (88-38, 1st NL West) at Mets (82-47, 1st NL East)
Tuesday, 7:10: TBD vs Taijuan Walker (10-3, 3.38 ERA)
Wednesday, 7:10 (MLB Network): TBD vs Jacob deGrom (3-1, 2.15 ERA)
Thursday, 4:10: TBD vs Chris Bassitt (11-7, 3.34 ERA)
The Dodgers keep chugging along and winning while the Mets stumbled a bit against the Yankees last week before regrouping against the Rockies over the weekend. The Mets have a bit of pressure on them as the Braves are within 3 games of the division lead and face the Rockies at home.
The Dodgers have yet to announce their pitching for this series, but based on the schedule it will be Andrew Heaney on Tuesday and Tyler Anderson on Wednesday. Dustin May would be in line for the start on Thursday, but Clayton Kershaw is coming back and is expected to pitch either Thursday or Friday against the Padres.
All three games of this series should be on national broadcasts but for some reason only Wednesday’s matchup is.
The Rest of the Games
Athletics (48-81) at Nationals (43-85)
Tue 7:05, Wed 7:05, Thu 4:05
The two worst teams in baseball go head-to-head this week as the Oakland A’s come to DC to take on the Nationals. Normally this would be a big moment for two teams chasing a #1 overall draft pick but with the draft lottery coming, this is just a meh series.
Cardinals (74-54) at Reds (50-76)
Mon 6:40, Tue 6:40, Wed 6:40
The Cardinals won a massive series over the red hot Atlanta Braves over the weekend and now are rewarded with a trip to the hapless Cincinnati Reds. The Reds did win a series over the Nats this past weekend, but most teams beat the Nats.
Cubs (55-73) at Blue Jays (68-58)
Mon 7:07, Tue 7:07, Wed 7:07
The Blue Jays were swept by the Angels at home over the weekend and are just 1.5 games up in the Wild Card over the Baltimore Orioles. They cannot afford to lose back-to-back series to bad teams at home.
Red Sox (62-66) at Twins (65-61)
Mon 7:40, Tue 7:40, Wed 7:40
This is the only other series that has teams technically in the Wild Card hunt but claiming the Red Sox are still in the race is a bit of a stretch, so I opted to choose the Padres/Giants series over this one to be the third highlighted series. The Twins had a rough stretch last week going 0-4 to start before getting home and taking care of business against the Giants. They’re two games behind the Guardians in the AL Central and 3 games back of the Blue Jays in the Wild Card.
Pirates (48-79) at Brewers (67-59)
Mon 8:10, Tue 8:10, Wed 2:10
The Brewers are hanging around in hopes of making the playoffs, but the NL Central looks like it’s getting away from them as the Cardinals have opened up a 6-game lead there. They’re just 1.5 back of the Padres in the NL Wild Card, however, and should expect to sweep the Pirates at home.
Yankees (78-50) at Angels (55-73)
Mon 9:38 (MLB Network), Tue 9:38 (MLB Network), Wed 9:38
Shohei Ohtani isn’t even pitching in this series and yet MLB Network is going to showcase this series twice this week. Guess that’s part of the Yankees draw as a fanbase. They continue to struggle despite a 4-2 record last week, while the Angels are coming home off a series sweep of the Blue Jays in Toronto.
Phillies (72-56) at Diamondbacks (59-67)
Mon 9:40, Tue 9:40, Wed 9:40
Bryce Harper is back and the Phillies are still on a roll. They are now #2 in the NL Wild Card standings, 2.5 games ahead of the Padres and 4 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers. They’ll head to Arizona for what could be a tricky series as the Diamondbacks are a gritty team.
Rays (70-57) at Marlins (55-72)
Tue 6:40, Wed 6:40
The Marlins finish up their series with the Dodgers on Monday and then head home to host their in-state rivals in the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are currently 7-3 over their last 10 and in the top Wild Card spot for the American League. They did just lose a series to the Red Sox, however. Miami haven’t announced their starters for this series yet, but NL Cy Young favorite Sandy Alcantara will likely not feature having just pitched a gem on Saturday in LA.
Mariners (70-58) at Tigers (48-77)
Tue 7:10, Wed 7:10, Thu 1:10
The Mariners got a big series win at home over the Guardians this past weekend and now will head to Detroit to take on another AL Central foe.
Rockies (55-74) at Braves (79-50)
Tue 7:20, Wed 7:20, Thu 7:20
The Braves are coming off a tough series loss to the Cardinals while the Rockies lost 3 of 4 in Queens to the Mets. The Braves are still within 3 games of the NL East lead and will be looking to take advantage of the Rockies while the Mets host the MLB’s best team in the Dodgers.
Astros (82-47) at Rangers (58-69)
Tue 8:05, Wed 2:05 (MLB Network)
The Astros lost a surprising series to the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend after sweeping the Minnesota Twins. Houston only managed to score 4 runs against Orioles pitching and will be looking to beat up on the Rangers following a disappointing weekend.
Royals (52-77) at White Sox (63-65)
Tue 8:10, Wed 8:10, Thu 2:10
A few weeks ago, it looked like the White Sox were about to turn a corner after a playoff-type series against the Houston Astros at home which they split. Since that series they are 2-7 and under .500 once again. They were just swept by the Diamondbacks at home and sit 5 games back in the division and 6 back in the AL Wild Card race. If they lose this series, they might as well consider themselves cooked and done.