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This coming weekend is the final one of the regular season but will not mark the end of regular season play.

In breaking with long standing tradition that had the regular season end on a Sunday, all 30 teams will play a final series from Monday through Wednesday of next week, with the playoffs scheduled to begin a week from this Friday.

Both Philadelphia and Detroit have clinched Division titles. The other four Division leaders are up by between 4½ and 6½ games. While those leads may appear safe there will be several showdowns between the leaders and their nearest pursuers over the next 10 days.

In the NL West San Francisco, which starts this week trailing Arizona by 5 games, will be in Arizona for a three game series this weekend. The Giants will pretty much need to sweep the series if they are to return to the playoffs and have a chance to defend last season’s World Series title. It’s a long shot but certainly it is possible with the Giants’ pitching rotation and the fact that the bats have heated up over the past couple of weeks.

In the AL West Texas has a 4½ game lead over the LA Angels but will end the season with a three game series in Anaheim. Again, the second place team, the Angels, has a significant edge in starting pitching and the Halos’ bats have been productive over the past few weeks.

The New York Yankees start the week with a 4½ lead over second place Boston with third place Tampa Bay just two games behind the Red Sox. What makes this interesting is that the Yanks and Rays will play each other seven times over the final week and a half and also host Boston for three games over the weekend.

Although the Yanks are in a favorable position they face a very tough end of season schedule that, though extremely unlikely, could see New York miss the playoffs were they to lose eight or nine of those final 10 games.

In the NL Central, Milwaukee’s 6½ game lead over St. Louis appears to be secure. The Brewers are at the Cubs during this week and end the season hosting Florida and Pittsburgh.

The Wild Card races have the most potential for drama as leads in both leagues have shrunk over the past week. In the National League both San Francisco and St. Louis have made up four games against Atlanta over the past 10. In the American League Tampa Bay has made up five games in their last 10 on Boston and the Angels have made up four.

Entering the final full week of play Boston’s Wild Card lead over Tampa Bay is just two games and the Angels are just four behind.

Atlanta’s Wild Card lead in the National League is 3½ games over St Louis and just four over San Francisco.

Here’s a look at four series this weekend that could have an impact on which teams make or miss the playoffs.

Braves at Nats: Atlanta leads the season series 8-7 with the teams splitting their six games in the nation’s capital. The OVER is 11-3-1.

Preferred plays:


• Braves -150 or less.


• Nationals +150 in any matchup.

• OVER 8 or lower in any matchup.

Giants at D’backs: The Giants have won 9 of 15 games against Arizona including 4 of 6 in ‘Zona. The UNDER is 8-7.

Preferred plays:


• Giants +110 or more in any matchup.


• Giants -150 or less in starts by Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain against any Arizona starter.

• UNDER 8 or higher if Lincecum or Cain oppose Arizona’s Ian Kennedy or Daniel Hudson.

• OVER 8 or lower if Cain, Lincecum, Hudson or Kennedy are not involved.

Red Sox at Yanks: Boston won 8 of the first 9 meetings this season but the teams have split their last 6 – all at Fenway Park. The OVER is 7-7-1 in the 15 matchups as the teams averaged a combined 9.9 runs per game. Boston’s pitching staff has been beset by injuries and the Yanks may have the stronger overall rotation right now. We could see each of these critical contests take a good four hours or more.

Preferred plays:


• Either team at +150 or more in any matchup.


• Yankees -150 or less not facing Josh Beckett or Jon Lester.

• Red Sox +125 or more not facing Ivan Nova or Bartolo Colon.

• OVER 9 or lower in any matchup not involving Beckett.

• UNDER 9 or higher if Beckett starts vs Colon or Freddy Garcia.

Jays at Rays: Tampa has won 10 of 15 meetings this season including 4 of 6 in Tampa. The UNDER is 4-2 in games played away from Toronto.

Preferred plays:


• Rays -150 or less.


• Rays -200 or less in a start by James Shields not facing Ricky Romero;

• Jays + 130 or more in a start by Romero not facing Shields.

• UNDER 8 or higher in any matchup.

• UNDER 7 or higher if Romero starts against Shields, David Price or Jeremy Hellickson.

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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