Oct 1, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT
We are down to the final three days of the regular season, and there is so much still to be decided. Here’s an overview for the craziness that will be afoot between now and Wednesday night:
The teams involved in the playoffs are close to being set. The Yankees, Orioles and Rangers have clinched three of the five playoff spots in the American League. The Nationals, Braves, Reds and Giants have clinched four of the five in the NL. All that’s left as far as the participants go are the identity of the AL Central representative and the final two wild card teams.
- The Tigers have a three-game lead over the fading White Sox in the AL Central. One Tigers win in any of their final three games against the Royals in Kansas City or one White Sox loss in any of their final three in Cleveland gives the division crown to Detroit.
- As for the wild card, in the American League, the Athletics are one win — or one Angels loss — in any of the final three games away from clinching. The A’s play their final series at home against the Texas Rangers. The Angels play their final three on the road against the Mariners.
- In the National League, the Cardinals are two wins — or two Dodgers losses — in any of the final three games away from clinching. The Cardinals finish up at home against the Reds. The Dodgers finish up at home against the Giants.
But making the postseason isn’t everything. Not in this new world of the one-game wild card playoff. That’s what the Yankees and Orioles are playing for in the AL East. They are in a deadlock at 92-67, and each want like the dickens to avoid having to play that all-or-nothing wild card game on Friday. The Orioles play their final three at Tropicana Field against the hot, hot Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees finish up at home against the Red Sox.
Technically speaking the Nationals and Rangers have not yet clinched their divisions either, but each hold a three-game lead over their pursuers — the Braves and Athletics, respectively — so any one win by the leader or one loss by the second place team ends those races as well.
The most likely playoff matchups:
The most likely outcomes right now would lead to the following playoff matchups:
- Wild card playoff: The Cardinals vs. Braves in Atlanta and the loser of the AL East — my guess is the Orioles due to that tough series against Tampa Bay — facing off against the Athletics. That game will be played in the home park of the team with the better record.
- Division Series: The wild card team that advances to the Division Series will face the team with the best record in the league. At present, the Reds and Nationals have identical 96-63 records. Currently the Rangers have the best record in the AL, but both the Orioles and Yankees are only a game behind. The upshot: we won’t know until Wednesday who the wild card playoff winner will face.
- AL MVP: If the season ended today, Miguel Cabrera would win the Triple Crown. But it doesn’t end today, and his lead for the batting title (.325 to Joe Mauer‘s .323 and Mike Trout‘s .321) and the home run title (tied with Josh Hamilton at 43) are razor-thin. Many suspect that if Cabrera wins the Triple Crown — a feat which has not been accomplished since 1967 — he will win the MVP. Others — including your dear author — believe that winning the Triple Crown, however rare and admirable a feat that is does not make up for the fact that Mike Trout is the better all-around player, posting batting numbers that are close to Cabrera’s, but standing as the far, far superior defender and baserunner.
- NL MVP: The National League has a close race for the MVP as well, although only one of the leading candidates — Buster Posey — is on a playoff-bound team. Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen are still in the conversation.
- Cy Young Award: The Cy Young Award races are fairly wide open. In the National League R.A. Dickey still has one start remaining, and we’re likely to still see appearances from the relief candidates who have bandied about: Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman. The AL Cy Young is even more up-f0r-grabs. Neither Justin Verlander nor David Price will start again, however. Jered Weaver will pitch on the last day of the season and, though remote, it’s possible he’ll be trying to pitch the Angels into the playoffs.
- Rookies, Managers of the Year: Rookies of the Year haven’t gotten much talk of late, but Mike Trout is a mortal lock in the American League. Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks to be the front runner in the senior circuit. Most folks figure that Buck Showalter and Davey Johnson have the Manager of the Year awards locked up, and nothing that happens this week will change that.
Three days left. So much already decided, yes. But still so much to play for. Buckle up, everyone.
May 22, 2013, 9:13 PM EDT
The Cardinals learned today that Jaime Garcia needs what will likely be season-ending shoulder surgery. And now another starter is in trouble. According to MLB.com beat writer Jenifer Langosch, sinkerballer Jake Westbrook was unable to make it beyond 20 pitches in a bullpen session this evening because of lingering discomfort in his right elbow. He…
May 22, 2013, 8:27 PM EDT
Indians first baseman Nick Swisher was placed on the paternity leave list Tuesday following the birth of his daughter. After getting a few days to spend with his family’s newest addition, he will return to the Tribe’s starting lineup on Friday night in Boston. This according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Swisher, 32, is batting…
May 22, 2013, 7:34 PM EDT
David Freese suffered a gash on his right thumb Sunday when he lunged to tag Norichika Aoki on the left leg during a rundown along the third base line. It was only a minor cut, but he got stitches after the game and has not made an appearance since. Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Freese is…
May 22, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Orioles infield prospect Jonathan Schoop has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back and is likely to need 6-8 weeks of rest. He will meet with another doctor this week for a second opinion, but the initial diagnosis probably won’t change. Schoop is hitting .268/.331/.386 with three…
May 22, 2013, 5:32 PM EDT
Jered Weaver threw 5.2 innings of one-run ball in an extended spring training game today, potentially setting him up to come off the disabled list and rejoin the Angels’ rotation next week. Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that Weaver threw 75 pitches, 62 for strikes, and struck out nine versus zero walks.…
May 22, 2013, 5:02 PM EDT
Superman has kryptonite. Matt Harvey has Zack Cozart. Despite being a nearly unhittable pitcher this year, the Reds’ Cozart got four hits off Harvey today en route to a 4 for 5, two-double performance. Overall Harvey had his worst outing of the season, allowing four runs on nine hits in six and a third. One…
May 22, 2013, 4:31 PM EDT
Kinda feels like a lot of Rays farmhands get suspended for drugs: The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that Tampa Bay Rays Minor League right-handed pitcher Angel Yepez has received a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for metabolites of Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug…
May 22, 2013, 4:16 PM EDT
UPDATE: Las Vegas police issued the following statement: The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is currently investigating a Sexual Assault case. Jose Conseco [sic] has been named as the suspect in this investigation. At this time no charges have been filed and our investigation remains ongoing. Per department policy neither victim information or investigation details…
May 22, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT
Even though they met in the World Series nearly 22 years ago, the Twins-Braves series still stirs up some emotions in partisans of each team. Mostly Braves fans, to be honest, as we are bitter and angry and all of that stuff even more than two decades later. Freakin’ Kent Hrbek. Freakin’ Kirby Puckett. Freakin’…
May 22, 2013, 3:45 PM EDT
It’s not often that you see an Opening Day starter sent to the minors, let alone demoted less than two months into the season, but that’s exactly what the Twins just did with Vance Worley. Worley got knocked around for eight runs in 3.2 innings against the Braves today, falling to 1-5 with a 7.21…
May 22, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT
Adam Eaton was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in March and was playing in rehab games. Then this: #Dbacks OF Adam Eaton has returned to Phx to see doc after having soreness in elbow. — Steve Gilbert (@SteveGilbertMLB) May 22, 2013 Eaton hit .259/.382/.412 in his cup of coffee last year and was…
May 22, 2013, 2:44 PM EDT
Remember how Rafael Soriano called out Bryce Harper for blowing last night’s game by missing a catch in right field? Not surprisingly the Nationals closer took it all back today, telling James Wagner of the Washington Post that the comments came during what he thought was an off-the-record conversation with a reporter. Here’s more from…
May 22, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
We’re talking phenoms on HBT Daily today.
May 22, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT
Jeremy Affeldt was interviewed about his new book. Which, it seems, reveals the deeply Christian Affeldt to have experienced a transformation on the matter of homosexuality: When Jeremy Affeldt came to the Bay Area as an opposing player, he refused to leave his hotel room aside from going to and from the ballpark. He was…
May 22, 2013, 1:48 PM EDT
Chase Utley was scratched from last night’s game with pain in his right side and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Phillies second baseman is getting an MRI exam. Utley complained of a burning sensation in his rib cage and Salisbury speculates that it might be an oblique strain, which would almost certainly require…
May 22, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT
I’m usually the last guy to call for a manager’s head, but I’m sorry, when you call out your own team’s toughness and your boss’ construction of the roster, you’re not long for your job. Here’s Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, quoting Mattingly today about what ails the Dodgers: Don Mattingly pregame seemed to…
May 22, 2013, 12:46 PM EDT
When the Cardinals placed left-hander Jaime Garcia on the disabled list last week they feared that he’d need shoulder surgery and sure enough Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that he’ll go under the knife. Garcia has a long history of arm problems and the possibility of shoulder surgery has been looming since last year, when…
May 22, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT
He didn’t actually use those words, but I kinda wish he did because I have a lot of fun with the “robot umps now” thing on Twitter. But Brenly does tell Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he thinks the game is too fast, the technology is too good and the calls are too…
May 22, 2013, 11:51 AM EDT
Kyle Lohse has been scratched from his next scheduled start with what the Brewers are calling elbow irritation. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that Mike Fiers will fill in for Lohse against the Pirates on Saturday. Lohse has an ugly 1-5 record since signing a three-year, $33 million deal with the Brewers late in spring…
May 22, 2013, 11:19 AM EDT
For the second time this week the Twins have called up a player they signed out of an independent league. First it was reliever Caleb Thielbar and now it’s first baseman Chris Colabello, who signed with the Twins last year after dominating in the Canadian-American Association. Colabello is 29 years old and wasn’t all that…
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