It’s time for another action-packed week of Major League Baseball! The Nationals head to St. Louis following a big series win over the Mets this past weekend, while I’ve highlighted three other massive series with playoff implications to monitor this week. Three teams in the AL Central are within 2 games of each other for the division lead, while the AL East and NL East are suddenly in play for the Braves and Rays, respectively. 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 86-48 (AL West Leaders)
2. New York Yankees 80-54 (AL East Leaders)
3. Cleveland Guardians 68-64 (Tied AL Central Lead, 5 GB in Wild Card)
4. Seattle Mariners 76-58 (Wild Card #1)
5. Tampa Bay Rays 74-58 (Wild Card #2, 5 GB in AL East)
6. Toronto Blue Jays 73-59 (Wild Card #3)
Baltimore Orioles 71-62 (2.5 GB in Wild Card)
Minnesota Twins 68-64 (Tied AL Central, 5 GB in Wild Card)
Chicago White Sox 67-67 (2 GB in AL Central, 6 GB in Wild Card)
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 92-41 (NL West Leaders)
2. New York Mets 85-50 (NL East Leaders)
3. St. Louis Cardinals 79-55 (NL Central Leaders)
4. Atlanta Braves 84-51 (Wildcard #1, 1 GB back in NL East)
5. San Diego Padres 74-61 (Wildcard #2)
6. Philadelphia Phillies 73-61 (Wildcard #3)
Milwaukee Brewers 70-63 (8.5 GB back in NL Central, 2.5 GB in Wildcard)
Three Series to Watch
1. Blue Jays (73-59, 3rd AL East) at Orioles (71-62, 4th AL East)
Monday, 1:05: Kevin Gausman (10-9, 3.14 ERA) vs Jordan Lyles (10-9, 4.25 ERA)
Monday, TBD: Jose Berrios (9-5, 5.32 ERA) vs Mike Baumann (1-2, 4.50 ERA)
Tuesday, 7:05: Mitch White (1-5, 4.67 ERA) vs Kyle Bradish (3-5, 5.17 ERA)
Wednesday, 7:05: Alek Manoah (13-7, 2.48 ERA) vs Dean Kremer (6-4, 3.22 ERA)
The Orioles started the weekend 1.5 games back in the AL Wild Card race and then took two of three from Oakland. Normally that would be enough to at least tread water in the race, but unfortunately for them, the Mariners and Blue Jays both swept their opponents over the weekend. So the Orioles lost ground and now find themselves 2.5 games back of the Blue Jays for that third AL Wild Card spot.
Monday will kickoff this series with a doubleheader that seems to favor the Blue Jays on paper with Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios going for Toronto against Jordan Lyles and Mike Baumann for the O’s. But the pitching matchup I’m really looking forward to is on Wednesday when Alek Manoah faces Dean Kremer, who has been outstanding for the Orioles this year.
If you are in the MASN broadcast area, then all four games will be available there.
2. Twins (68-64, T-1st AL Central) at Yankees (80-54, 1st AL East)
Monday, 1:05 (MLB Network): Chris Archer (2-7, 4.52 ERA) vs Jameson Taillon (12-4, 3.97 ERA)
Tuesday, 7:10 (TBS): Joe Ryan (10-7, 3.88 ERA) vs Gerrit Cole (3.28 ERA)
Wednesday, 7:05: Sonny Gray (7-4, 3.20 ERA) vs Domingo German (2-3, 3.12 ERA)
Thursday, 7:05: TBD vs TBD
Unlike the Orioles, the Twins managed to lose a series over the weekend to the White Sox and gain ground in the AL Central, thanks to the Mariners sweep of the Guardians. They are now tied for the division lead. The Yankees also lost a series over the weekend in Tampa and are just 16-26 since the All Star Break. They haven’t won a series of three games or more since late July over the Kansas City Royals.
Aaron Judge hit his 52nd and 53rd home runs for the Yankees over the weekend, but the team remains offensively challenged having scored just 3 runs in that whole series. They got Giancarlo Stanton back from injury, but Andrew Benintendi is on the IL now. The entire offense depends on Aaron Judge and that’s still not enough, no matter where they’re hitting him in the lineup.
The Twins offense is led by Carlos Correa and Luis Arraez. The latter is currently tied for the AL batting title with Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts at .317.
Monday’s game will be on MLB Network and Tuesday’s game will be nationally broadcast on TBS.
3. White Sox (67-67, 3rd AL Central) at Mariners (76-58, 2nd AL West)
Monday, 6:40: Lance Lynn (4-5, 4.70 ERA) vs Marco Gonzales (10-12, 3.99 ERA)
Tuesday, 9:40: Johnny Cueto (7-6, 2.93 ERA) vs Logan Gilbert (11-5, 3.35 ERA)
Wednesday, 4:10: TBD vs Luis Castillo (6-5, 2.71 ERA)
The White Sox are hanging around and thanks to back-to-back series wins over the Royals and Twins, find themselves just 2 games back of the Guardians and Twins in the AL Central. The Mariners are red hot and have won 7 in a row.
We’re not sure who will start for the White Sox on Wednesday in the finale, but Joe Kelly was used in an Opener role last time this spot in the rotation came up. Saturday’s pitching matchup between the resurgent Johnny Cueto and Logan Gilbert looks to be a fun one and my pick for the game to watch of this series. Luis Robert should be back for the White Sox for this series, which would be a big boost for their lineup.
For some reason, none of these three games are being broadcast on national tv, but are still available to seen on MLBtv.
The Rest of the Games
Nationals (47-87) at Cardinals (79-55)
Mon 4:15, Tue 7:45, Wed 7:45, Thu 1:15
The Nationals have won back-to-back series over the A’s and Mets, but now they’ve got another division leader on the road in the St. Louis Cardinals. Jack Flaherty makes his return from injury for the Cardinals on Monday, as the Cardinals hope to see what they’ve got in him come October.
Mets (85-50) at Pirates (49-84)
Mon 12:35, Tue 6:35, Wed 6:35
The Mets are just 1 game ahead of the Braves in the AL East following a series loss at home to the Nationals. With the Braves in Oakland for 2, the Mets need to right the ship in Pittsburgh to stay on top.
Red Sox (67-68) at Rays (74-58)
Mon 4:10 (MLBN), Tue 6:40, Wed 6:40
The Red Sox continue to stay around .500 but the Rays are surging towards the AL East lead as they are now within 5 games of the struggling Yankees.
Brewers (70-63) at Rockies (57-78)
Mon 4:10, Tue 8:40, Wed 3:10
The Brewers’ hopes of a division crown are basically toast, but they’re just 2.5 games back of the Phillies for a Wild Card spot. They need to take care of business in Colorado.
Diamondbacks (64-69) at Padres (74-61)
Mon 6:40, Tue 9:40, Wed 8:40
Before you assume this will be a cake walk for the Padres, know that the Diamondbacks are 8-2 over their last 10 with all of those games coming against teams in the playoff hunt. The Padres have yet to gain any real momentum despite their trade acquisitions but they continue to maintain their place in the NL Wild Card race.
Rangers (58-75) at Astros (86-48)
Mon 7:10 (MLBN), Tue 8:10, Wed 8:10
The Rangers are terrible and the Astros are going to get a chance to pad their lead for the American League’s #1 seed.
Guardians (68-64) at Royals (55-80)
Mon 8:10, Tue 8:10, Wed 8:10
The Guardians are 2-8 in their last 10 and reeling. They need a bad team to help them stay afloat atop the AL Central and here are the Royals just in the nick of time.
Tigers (51-83) at Angels (58-76)
Mon 9:38, Tue 9:38, Wed 4:07
A series that means nothing unless you’re trying to watch Shohei Ohtani who is unreal.
Giants (64-68) at Dodgers (92-41)
Mon 10:10 (MLBN), Tue 10:10 (MLBN), Wed 4:10 (MLBN)
The Giants are basically out of the playoff race and their arch rivals are the best team in baseball by a mile. They’re just going to try and not get swept in LA.
Marlins (55-78) at Phillies (73-61)
Tue 6:45, Wed 6:45, Thu 6:45
After a horrendous West Coast road trip in which they went 1-5 against the Diamondbacks and Giants, the Phillies return home to face the offensively challenged Marlins. Unfortunately for the Phillies, they’ve got to face Sandy Alcantara on Thursday in the series finale.
Reds (53-79) at Cubs (56-78)
Tue 7:40, Wed 7:40, Thu 2:20 (YouTube)
Another series with no playoff implications and not much to talk about.
Braves (84-51) at Athletics (50-85)
Tue 9:40, Wed 3:37
The Braves are within 1 game of the NL East division lead and they’ve got a short 2-game trip to Oakland in hopes of gaining more ground.