MLB Weekend Preview (9/26-9/28)
The long MLB regular season will come to a close this weekend, meaning the postseason is just around the corner. While most of the races are decided, there are still a few that are still up for grabs.
The only divisional race left in the National League is between the Cardinals (88-71) and Pirates (87-72). Currently the Cardinals hold a one game lead as they travel west to take on the Diamondacks (63-96). The series will open with a struggling Michael Wacha taking the mound and looking to get back on track after posting a 6.17 era and batters batting .300 against him since coming off the DL. His opponent, though, is having a season to forget. Trevor Cahill comes in at 3-12 on the season with a 5.55 era. Jon Jay is expected to rejoin the team as well on Friday after leaving to attend a family matter on Wednesday. Saturday’s game will see Lance Lynn square off against Wade Miley, both are coming loses their last time out putting them at 15-10 and 8-12 respectively. The Cards control their own destiny after dropping two out of three in Chicago.
The Pirates who are coming off a successful trip to Atlanta where they took 3 out of 4, making them 8-2 in their last ten contests. The Buccos will roll into Cincy with Vance Worley taking the mound, who is coming off a masterful 8.0 inning, 4-hit shutout in his last start. The Reds (74-85), who are having a dreadful season, will go with lefty Mike Leake. Southpaw Francisco Liriano and Alfreado Simon take the mound on Saturday. This series might also see the return of the Red’s slugger, Joey Votto, who has been out since July 8th.
Both teams head into the weekend with a chance to take the wide open Central, but no matter what both teams do, they will be in the playoffs, and take on the Giants in the Wildcard. Speaking of the Giants, they recently lost centerfielder Angel Pagan for the year while their divisional counterpart, the Dodgers, locked up the division and home field for the NLDS, and trail the Nationals by two games for home field throughout the playoffs. Both teams will play Colorado, and Miami respectively.
Just like in the NL, the only division that is still up for grabs is the Central. The Tigers (89-70), who already are locked into the playoffs, currently hold a two game lead over the Royals (87-72), as both teams take on division rivals. The Tigers should have this one locked up as they play the Twins. Rick Porcello will get the ball Friday against Anthony Swarzk. As it stands, David Price is slated to pitch on Sunday.
The Royals will conclude a four-game weekend series with the White Sox after taking game one 6-3 on Thursday. One win and the Royals are locked in; this should be easy as they have Duffy going on Saturday. The team has had an offensive resurgence of late lead by Nori Aoki’s 12-game run since taking over the second spot in the batting order, he is hitting .434 with an on base percentage of .480.
AL Wild Card:
There are three teams in the race for the last Wild Card spot in the AL, with the Royals practically locked in. Cleveland needs the A’s and the Mariners to get swept by the Rangers and Angels respectively, and for them to sweep the Rays to clinch. They are still mathematically alive, but they are realistically out of it.
The Mariners will face an uphill battle as the take on the best team in baseball record wise, the Angels. Felix Hernandez pitching on Sunday will help them, but they still have to win the series against the Angels to have a chance. Their hopes are higher than Cleveland, but will be on the outside looking in come Monday.
Probably the Mariners’ biggest hope is that the A’s are not the team they were at the All-Star break. Oakland is just 3-7 in their last ten; the A’s biggest enemy is themselves. They will play an injury-ridden Texas team. With Samardzija and Grey pitching this weekend, two wins are more than likely to come, which would lock them in the playoffs.
Written by: Stuart Blair