- Between A's-Mariners, Cubs-Brewers, Dodgers-Mariners and A's-Astros, this is going to be one of the best weeks of regular-season baseball this season.
There are seven weeks remaining in MLB’s regular season. Once the postseason matchups are set, we may look back on this week, August 13 through 19, as moving week. There are eight series this week that feature two teams either in postseason position right now, or within 2.5 games of a playoff spot. We’ll look at a few of the biggest ones at the end of the Table Setter, but they are Red Sox at Phillies, Brewers at Cubs, Rockies at Astros, Mariners at A’s, Rockies at Braves, Astros at A’s, Dodgers at Mariners, and Brewers at Cardinals.
That’s a huge week of baseball, and it will go a long way toward determining this year’s postseason matchups, as well as which teams are left on the outside.
Hitters to Watch This Week
Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves
Acuña homered in the final two games of Atlanta’s series with Milwaukee over the weekend, giving him four over his last five games. The Braves enter this week tied with the Phillies atop the NL East and will play eight games in seven days, starting with a doubleheader against the Marlins on Monday. Acuña is hitting .271/.328/.522 with 15 homers, 16 doubles and 34 RBI this season.
J.D. Martinez, Red Sox
Martinez had another excellent weekend against the Orioles, going 6-for-15 with two homers, three doubles and five RBI as the Red Sox picked up a four-game sweep. Martinez has five homers in August, and leads the majors with 37 bombs and 104 RBI. Add in a .333/.401/.669 slash line, the latter of which also leads the majors, and you’ve got one of the members of the AL MVP short list.
David Peralta, Diamondbacks
Peralta homered in the last two games of Arizona’s weekend series in Cincinnati, giving him 21 on the year. He, too, has left the yard five times this month, and has been the Diamondbacks’ most consistent hitter throughout the season. Peralta has rediscovered the trajectory he seemed to be setting for himself in 2015, taking a .303/.359/.530 slash line into play this week. The Diamondbacks could make this week a lucrative one, as we’ll discuss a little later.
Brian Dozier, Dodgers
It didn’t take Dozier much time to get acclimated to his new setting, homering in his first two games with the Dodgers. He hit his third homer with the team in the opener of its four-game series with the Rockies over the weekend. That turned out to be the only game in the series the Dodgers won, and they now find themselves a game behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West, and just half a game ahead of the Rockies. Dozier has lived up to his end of the bargain since his trade from Minnesota thus far, going 10-for-35 with three doubles, 11 RBI and 10 walks against seven strikeouts, in addition to the three homers.
Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees
With Aaron Judge on the DL, the Yankees need Stanton to be the top-end version of himself like he was last year, rather than the merely very good version that he has been for most of this season. He kicked into 2017 gear last week, homering in five of the team’s last six games to give him 30 on the year. The hot streak pushed his slash line to .281/.348/.532, and while that slugging percentage is still 100 points shy of where he was last year, Stanton is showing the elite power stroke that won him the NL MVP last year.
Pitchers to Watch This Week
Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks
Corbin was excellent in his last trip to the mound, tossing 7 1/3 shutout innings while striking out nine in a win over the Phillies. The Diamondbacks begin this week one game ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West and have a real opportunity to get on a run with six games against a couple of last place teams in the Rangers and Padres. Corbin will start one of those games, facing the Rangers on Tuesday.
Edwin Jackson, A’s
It’s crazy enough that the 34-year-old Jackson is in the league with his 13th team, let alone that he’s a pitcher to watch. He has thrown the ball well in nine starts with the A’s, though, totaling a 2.48 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with 41 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings. The A’s have been desperate for starting pitching all year, and while Jackson isn’t, say, the type of starter you want to lean on in a one-game playoff, he does lengthen the rotation and take some pressure off one of the most heavily used bullpens in the league. He’s scheduled for one start this week during the team’s huge weekend series with the Astros.
Cole Hamels, Cubs
Hamels has been excellent since joining the Cubs, allowing two earned runs on 11 hits with 20 strikeouts against four walks in 18 innings, a stretch covering three starts. He saved his best of the three for his Wrigley debut over the weekend, during which he surrendered one run on one hit and one walk, striking out nine in seven masterful innings against the Nationals. With Yu Darvish still on the DL and Jon Lester struggling, this is exactly what the Cubs needed out of the newest member of their rotation. He’ll make his next start where he made his first one as a member of the Cubs, in Pittsburgh this weekend.
Carlos Carrasco, Indians
Carrasco makes it into this section for the second straight week after shutting down the White Sox on Sunday, allowing one run on three hits with nine strikeouts and zero walks in seven innings. The Astros will likely head into the postseason with the best rotation, but if Carrasco can keep pitching like this, the Indians will be right behind them. They may have the worst record of all AL qualifiers, including the wild cards, but no team will want to face Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carrasco and Mike Clevinger in a short series. Carrasco’s next start is slated for Saturday against the Orioles.
David Price, Red Sox
Price is in the midst of his best run of the season, tossing five straight quality starts. He has amassed a 1.64 ERA and 0.97 WHIP with 33 strikeouts in 33 innings in that time, and now sports a 3.75 ERA and 1.20 WHIP for the season. The Red Sox are going to live and die by their offense and Chris Sale in the postseason, but if Price can maintain this level of performance, he could make them the clear favorites to win the AL pennant. He’s in line to pitch on Saturday against the Rays.
Matchups to Watch This Week
Brewers at Cubs, Tuesday and Wednesday
The Cubs are flying high after David Bote’s two-out walk-off grand slam lifted them over the Nationals on Sunday, and a three-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central. The Brewers, meanwhile, dropped two of three in Atlanta, and have lost seven of their last 11 games. These teams haven’t seen each other for two months, and these are the first two of eight remaining games they have with one another. Jhoulys Chacin and Jose Quintana will meet on Tuesday, and Junior Guerra and Kyle Hendricks will square off on Wednesday.
Astros at A’s, Friday through Sunday
The A’s have steadily made up ground in the AL West all season, and could find themselves in first place at this time next week. They begin the week with a three-game series against the Mariners, who trail them by 1.5 games for the second wild card. After that, they’ll host the Astros, whose stranglehold on the division is loosening. The A’s trail the defending World Series champs by just 2.5 games, putting first place comfortably within striking distance. The Astros are on track to start Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, while the A’s are slated to counter with Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill and Sean Manaea.
Dodgers at Mariners, Friday through Sunday
The Mariners just had their best weekend of the season, sweeping a four-game set from the Astros in Houston. The Dodgers had nearly the opposite weekend, losing three of four to the Rockies. Both of these teams start this week just out of playoff position, with the Mariners 1.5 games behind the A’s for the second wild card, and four games shy of the Astros in the AL West. The Dodgers are a game behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West, and two games shy of the Phillies and Brewers, who are tied for the NL’s two wild card spots. The pitching matchups aren’t yet locked in, but the Dodgers are on track to go with Walker Buehler, Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw, while the Mariners are scheduled to start Wade LeBlanc, Erasmo Ramirez and Marco Gonzales.