MLB Weekend Forecast: September 25 – September 27
By Sam Soergel
This is the stretch run – the second to last weekend of the MLB regular season. The St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Kansas City Royals have all clinched playoff spots, but seven spots are still open. Many of the races are tight, and this is a make or break weekend for a lot of teams. Here’s a look at what’s going on around the league.
The Blue Jays took two of three from the Yankees in a huge series earlier this week to keep them three games back of the AL East lead. On Friday, the Jays open a home series against Tampa Bay and Jake Odorizzi. Odorizzi has put together a pretty solid year in his second full season, but is coming off of a bad start against Baltimore last week. R.A. Dickey will go for Toronto. On Saturday, it’s a battle of the aces as Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer faces one of the best pitchers in baseball, David Price. Since being traded to Toronto, Price has gone 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA. If he can keep this up in the playoffs, look out. On Sunday, it’s Matt Andriese versus Mark Buehrle.
The Yankees have to play well against the White Sox this weekend if they are to have any hopes of catching Toronto. They’ll face Carlos Rodon, who has had a strong rookie campaign, John Danks, and Jeff Samardzija. Pitching for the Yankees will be CC Sabathia on Friday, Adam Warren on Saturday, and another rookie, Luis Severino, on Sunday. Severino has pitched very well for the Yankees since coming up from the minors in August.
The Kansas City Royals were the first team to clinch a playoff spot in the American League. On Thursday night, they took the AL Central crown. While they’ve only played .500 ball in their last 10 games, they are still one of the best teams in the American League. They welcome Cleveland this weekend. Cleveland is only four games out of the Wild Card, but there are three teams above them. Carlos Carrasco will go against Edinson Volquez on Friday. Kris Medlen pitches Saturday. He has won his last two starts and four of his last 6. He and the Royals’ bats will have the tough task of facing Josh Tomlin. Since returning from the DL, Tomlin has been great. He has gone 6-2 with a 2.43 ERA. Unfortunately for Cleveland, this playoff push might be too little, too late. On Sunday, Danny Salazar and Chris Young close out the series.
The AL West is what a pennant race is all about. The Astros held the top spot for almost the whole year. After being passed for first place by the Angels in July, they retook the top spot and held onto it until just recently, when the Rangers passed them. Now they sit a game and a half behind Texas. This weekend is huge because the Astros play Texas in Houston. By Sunday night, they could be ahead of the Rangers, or too far behind to catch them. Friday’s matchup is Yovani Gallardo versus Scott Kazmir. Kazmir, like a lot of Astros, has struggled recently, but Gallardo has not pitched well in his last two stars either. Saturday afternoon, the Astros will throw Collin McHugh, who pitched a gem against Oakland in his last start. Derek Holland pitches for Texas. Cy Yound candidate Dallas Keuchel faces Martin Perez on Sunday.
AL WILD CARD
The two Wild Card teams are currently the Yankees and the Astros, but both the Twins and Angels sit only a game and a half behind Houston. Baltimore is three and a half back. The Twins go to Detroit to face the Tigers and the Angels play Seattle at home, while Baltimore will play the Red Sox in Boston. They Yankees have a pretty safe four and a half game lead over the second Wild Card slot, but there are four teams that have a chance at that second Wild Card spot.
The Mets’ magic number to clinch the division over Washington is 3. Even though the Mets are 4-6 in their last 10, Washington is still 7.5 back. This weekend they head to Cincinnati to face a Reds team that is miles away from the playoff race. Noah Syndergaard pitches against Anthony DiSclafani on Friday night. Matt Harvey, who went only five innings but had a great start on Sunday, faces rookie John Lamb on Saturday. Lamb had a solid start against St. Louis last time out, but he might not be so lucky with this Mets offense. The series comes to a close Sunday with a matchup of Jacob deGrom and Keyvius Sampson, who has just not been good in a Reds rotation that does not have many other options. The Mets should obliterate Cincinnati’s pitching this weekend, but anything can happen.
This is the closest division in the NL, but it would take a lot to change the standings. St. Louis holds a four game lead over Pittsburgh. The Pirates have won six in a row, but to win the division, they would almost have to win out. It doesn’t help they have the hardest schedule between them, the Cubs, and the Cardinals. This weekend, the Bucs and Cubs face off in a pivotal series at Wrigley. The Pirates have a three and a half game lead against the Cubs, so even if they get swept, they will still hold the top Wild Card spot. Friday’s game is a day game where staff ace Gerrit Cole will duel Jon Lester. When Lester faced the Pirates last time, he was dominant, throwing a nine strikeout gem of a complete game. Saturday’s pitchers are Francisco Liriano and Jason Hammel. Sunday’s game is ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, most likely because the probable starters are A.J. Burnett for the Pirates and Jake Arrieta for the Cubs. Arrieta has had an unbelievably good second half of the season. He’s 20-6 and owns a 1.88 ERA on the year. St. Louis gets to watch the Cubs and Pirates beat up on each other while facing the lowly Brewers.
The West is almost a lock at this point. The Dodgers are eight games up on the Giants with a little more than a week left. Their magic number is 3. The Dodgers go to Colorado to play the Rockies. Luckily for the Rockies, no Kershaw or Greinke in this series. Mike Bolsinger, Brett Anderson and Alex Wood will pitch for the Dodgers this weekend. David Hale, Kyle Kendrick, and Chris Rusin go for Colorado. The Giants will travel across the bay to play the Athletics. The A’s are the worst team in the American League, and since the Giants fare even worse in the wild card standing (10 GB), even if they sweep, it probably won’t be enough. However, there is an intriguing matchup on Saturday. Two of the best pitchers of the early 2000s (and former teammates), Barry Zito and Tim Hudson, will go against each other. Zito hasn’t started a game since 2013 and Hudson has had a down year, but this one should still be fun to watch.
NL WILD CARD
Nothing has changed since last week, except the Pirates now lead the Cubs by three and a half games instead of one. As mentioned above, even if the Cubs sweep this week, the Pirates will still hold a half game lead. It looks like this will be the 2015 NL Wild Card matchup.
Three playoff spots down, seven to go. This weekend and the coming week will be sure to have great games. If your team is still in it, this is one of the most exciting parts of the baseball season.