MLB could end up with 3 tiebreaker games!
September 26, 2018 3:06 AM
by Ramon Scott
As expected, almost all of the true last-week drama in the Major League Baseball season comes in the National League.
The top two teams in both the NL West and NL Central were separated by just one-and-a-half games with only six days remaining in the season.
The combatants in the West were feeling the heat even more, as the second-place team will be in a down-to-the-wire Wild Card race that could see one of several scenarios before the elimination game takes place next Tuesday night.
The Dodgers lead the Rockies, while the Cubs were in front of the Brewers. The Cardinals, however, were lingering in third behind the Central teams, but remain very much alive against whatever team finishes second in the West. Milwaukee is in the driver’s seat to likely host the NLWC game.
Despite their struggles just to stay within striking distance in the race, the Dodgers are touted as the oddsmakers’ slight favorite in the National League, just ahead of the Cubs.
One bizarre, yet entirely possible scenario has four teams in the National League finishing with the same record. The result could force MLB to change their postseason schedule on the fly with three possible tie-breaker games needing to be played over two days, delaying the Wild Card game and surely throwing the pitching of the survivors out of whack.
In the American League, the class of the circuit – Boston and Houston – were nearly co-favorites to win the junior circuit, as well as, the World Series.
Despite nearly pacing with the Astros this year in their sure back-to-back 100-win seasons, the Oakland A’s were listed as the 8-to-1 longshots to win the American League pennant, as they faced the most difficult road. Still, manager Bob Melvin has to be considered for the league’s top manager honor for his work with the Athletics this season.
The Yankees own a key tie-breaker with the A’s should the one-game playoff home field come down to a tie in the final standings. Despite the perceived more difficult division, New York owns a better record within its own division, which decides a potential deadlock after the teams split the season series, 3-all.
However, that could still change with the Yanks playing tough East foes Tampa Bay and Boston this week.
BREWERS (+120, 8.5u15) at CARDINALS (Wed., 4:10): Brewers’ Jhoulys Chacin has allowed these Cardinal bats to hit over .300 against him over a decent 140 PA sample size, but the Cards’ John Gant has been hit even harder against the Brew Crew to the tune of .340 in PAs. Gant flubbed his last two outings but had been very solid for the prior two months. STL, 4-3
ATHLETICS (-115, 8.5u20) at MARINERS (Wed., 7:10): Edwin Jackson has helped the A’s resurgence. The veteran of more than a dozen stints with different clubs has contributed six wins and has a 3.18 ERA since joining the team. The M’s faded like Felix Hernandez’s career. He’s done well against Oakland and returns from a hamstring injury to make this start. OAK, 5-3
PHILLIES (+120) at ROCKIES (Thu., 12:10): Rockies will be pressed to win all week as they go with Antonio Senzatela, who has won his last two starts but has a 5.20 ERA at home. Phils’ Jake Arrieta has pitched well versus Colorado, including at Coors, holding the Rockies to a .210 average. He’s allowed close to an average of four ER over his last eight stats. COL, 7-5
ASTROS (-200, 8.5u20) at ORIOLES (Thu., 4:05): The Astros’ Justin Verlander is 15-5 and has averaged over 10 strikeouts in each of his last four starts and has picked up the win in five of his last seven outings. For the Orioles, David Hess is just 3-10 on the season and has a 5.14 ERA, recording just one win over the last two-plus months. HOU, 5-2
YANKEES (+150, 8.5) at RED SOX (Sat., 4:05): With both teams putting Sunday’s pitching plans on hold, Rick Porcello goes here, as he has held these Yanks’ bats to under a .200 average in well over .250 PAs. The Yankees’ Lance Lynn has a very good track record against the Sox, as well, allowing just a .234 mark to them in over 150 PAs. BOS, 4-3
INDIANS (-160, 9) at ROYALS (Fri., 5): Indians’ Adam Plutko will make a start in hopes of making the postseason roster with his 5.21 ERA. His last win came on June 24, but he posted a quality start against Boston on Sunday. The Royals’ Ian Kennedy has actually won his last two starts and has allowed just four ER and struck out 16 over his last four starts. CLE, 5-4
DODGERS (-130, 7.5) at GIANTS (Fri., 7:10): Rich Hill has helped get the Dodgers back to the top of the division, as he has won four straight starts, albeit with some strong run support. The Giants have hit over .290 against him, however. San Fran goes with Dereck Rodriguez, who has been one of the most unheralded rookie success stories this season. LAD, 4-3