Orioles at Red Sox
Wade Miley (8-12, 5.49) vs. David Price (15-8, 3.87)
Dylan Bundy (8-5, 3.82) vs. Drew Pomeranz (2-4, 3.97)
Kevin Gausman (7-10, 3.61) vs. Rick Porcello (20-3, 3.21)
With the AL East race becoming tighter and tighter, and with both teams coming off significant series wins (Sox over Jays, Orioles over Tigers), this three game set between Boston and Baltimore has huge postseason implications. The Orioles trail the Sox for the division lead by just two games, while they only lead the Tigers and the Yanks by as many in the jam packed wild card race. Thus, a series victory would bring the O’s closer to securing an AL East lead and avoiding the ever-unpredictable wild card game. A loss, on the other hand, could put them in a huge hole as they battle for a postseason spot. The Red Sox, although at the moment safer in the race than their opponent, are still just a poor showing away from re-entering the wild card picture. Featuring their three best arms over the course of the series, Boston will look to create separation in the AL East in their quest to secure the division title.
Cubs at Cardinals
Kyle Hendricks (14-7, 2.07) vs. Mike Leake (9-9, 4.61)
Jason Hammel (14-8, 3.50) vs. Jaime Garcia (10-12, 4.58)
Jon Lester (16-4, 2.51) vs. Carlos Martinez (14-7, 3.05)
With Mets surging and promising to keep it up, given that they have baseball’s easiest schedule down the stretch of the season, this series against the Cubs becomes a dangerous one for St. Louis. Statistically the best team in baseball, the Cubs need not worry about losing their division lead; instead, they turn their attention toward knocking out their division rival. A bad series for the Cards could be a huge setback in the race and could potentially kill their postseason hopes entirely. Thus, St. Louis will have to find a way to whether the Chicago storm (that will feature to Cy Young candidates over three days) and play some great baseball down the stretch if they want to secure the second wild card spot.
Mets at Nationals
Rafael Montero (0-0, 4.63) vs. Mat Latos (1-0, 7.71)
Noah Sydergaard (13-8, 2.48) vs. A.J. Cole (1-2, 4.56)
Robert Gsellman (2-1, 3.92) vs. Tanner Roark (14-8, 2.85)
The roles have been reversed. At this time last year, it was the Mets who dealt their division rival the fatal blow that eventually removed them from wild card contention. This season, the division leading Nats, who hold a secure lead atop the NL East, look to return the favor. Unbelievably, the Nationals are the last winning team the Mets will be forced to face this season, and as such, they present the last real threat to New York’s playoff hopes. Should the Mets be able to hold their own in Washington, their playoff chances will skyrocket, and they would control their own destiny as they enter the final sprint in the NL wild card race.