Scoreboard Watching 2021: Wild Card Rivals Final Series Tracking
In a way, we’ve achieved it: the penultimate day of the 2021 regular season is upon us. And while our eyes will mostly be on the Yankees / Rays game this afternoon (and tomorrow), there are plenty of other games that will determine the shape of the AL Wild Card race – and therefore the fate of the Yankees in 2021. And so, in the spirit of our regular series preview, let’s take a quick look at the six clashes to keep tabs on this weekend.
Today: Baltimore Orioles To Toronto Blue Jays, 3:07 p.m. ET
The Baltimore Orioles aim to get back to their messy habits after losing Game 1 of the Final Series last night, as they send staff ace John Means (6-8, 3.32 ERA, 4.39 FIP) at the mound. The 2019 All-Star was excellent in September, allowing just nine runs in 29.2 innings (a 2.76 ERA), including 6.2 scoreless innings in the Philly September 20. Believe it or not, this will be Means’ first outing against the Blue Jays this season, as he sort of sidestepped the powerful Toronto side in his first 25 starts.
Rookie Alek Manoah (8-2, 3.35 ERA, 3.96 FIP) will get the ball for Toronto, making his 20th start of the season. Since allowing six runs on five hits in five innings against Athletics on September 3, Manoah has been extinct, posting a 2.49 ERA in his last four starts; in addition, he allowed only two homers in that span, although he also hit four batters. He hasn’t faced the Orioles since facing them in back-to-back starts in late June, in which he was beaten by five runs in 3.1 innings in the first before bouncing back to allow just one only unearned point in six innings the second time around.
Today: Boston Red Sox To Washington Nationals4:05 p.m. ET
Rookie Josiah Gray (2-2, 5.85 ERA, 5.88 FIP) will make his 13th start of the season. Acquired as part of the Max Scherzer / Trea Turner agreement, the 72nd overall pick in the 2018 draft has been disappointing since early September, allowing 21 points in 24 innings and posting a 23/15 K / BB rate. He has, however, been victorious in his last two outings, allowing just 5 runs in 11 innings.
As of this writing, Boston has not named a starter, although FanGraphs expects Tanner Houck (1-5, 3.80 ERA, 2.77 FIP) to get the ball. While Houck has shown the potential to be an impact starter on the road, his rookie season has been a bit mixed – he has shown potential in the rotation and dominated out of the box, but struggled when ‘he was asked to work deep in games. With the injuries and ineffectiveness plaguing the Boston relievers’ box, it remains to be seen what the situation for the Red Sox pitchers will look like today.
Today: Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners, 9:10 a.m.ET
Rookie Jhonathan Diaz (1-0, 3.12 ERA, 3.85 FIP) makes the second start of his career (third appearance overall) in tonight’s late-night game – well, late at night for us – between the Angels and this season’s apparent protagonist, the Sailors. Coincidentally, his last outing was also against the Mariners, in which he limited Seattle’s offense to one point on three hits in seven innings in relief behind injured Jaime Barría by striking out four batters and a while walking.
Going up against him will be old Food among the top 10 prospects Chris Flexen (14-6, 3.67 ERA, 3.82 FIP), but not a single acquired in the Robinson Canó / Edwin Díaz trade. A valuable innings eater – he’s leading the team with 174.1 innings – he’s been just as capable of putting in some top-level performances as he’s allowed him to allow four or five runs.
Tomorrow: Orioles at the Blue Jays, 3:07 p.m. ET
Baltimore will end its season with southpaw Bruce Zimmerman (4-4, 4.66 ERA, 5.22 FIP) on the mound in a game that will mean all or nothing for the Toronto Blue Jays. The rookie starting pitcher has had some ups and downs in the Majors so far, following a disastrous seven-innings cameo in 2020 with a mid-road first half that ended abruptly due to biceps tendonitis and severe ankle sprain. He returned from the IL on September 28, allowing just one run on two hits in four innings as Baltimore won Game 1 of a three-game set with the Red Sox.
With their season potentially on the line, the Blue Jays will be sending a big investment from free agent Hyun Jin Ryu (13-10, 4.39 ERA, 4.00 FIP). The back-to-back runner-up from Cy Young, who is halfway through a four-year contract signed ahead of the 2020 season, has struggled for much of the season, posting a 5.37 ERA (4.60 FIP) in 20 departures since June 4. More recently, since the Yankees closed for six innings on Sept. 3, Ryu hasn’t moved past the fourth inning, including a seven-run shellacking in 2.1 innings by the “vaunted” Orioles formation on the 11th.
Tomorrow: Red Sox at Nationals, 3:05 p.m. ET
Most likely, Boston’s playoff hopes will rest on this one game; unsurprisingly, they lined up Chris Sale (5-1, 2.90 ERA, 3.83 FIP) for the last day of the season. The first of the 2020 Tommy John surgery trio – alongside Luis Severino and Noah Syndergaard – to make a comeback (and the only one to really return as a starting pitcher), Sale reminded the league why he went to seven games. consecutive All-Star and was in the top six in Cy Young’s vote for seven consecutive years. He’s not untouchable – the Rays scored him for five points, although four unearned, on September 6, and the Orioles scratched him three points on September 28 – but he’s one of the better pitchers. paid the league for a reason.
Washington has yet to name a starting pitcher yet.
Tomorrow: Angels at Mariners, 3:10 p.m. ET
Rather than sending Shohei Ohtani, the Angels opted to close their arms and give rookie Reid Detmers (1-3, 7.11 ERA, 6.53 FIP) his fifth start of the season. The 10th overall pick in the 2020 shortcut MLB Draft flew over the Angels’ farming system this year, making his Major League debut on August 1 against the Oakland Athletics. He was roughed up on his first two outings, allowing 11 runs on 13 hits in 9.1 innings, but calmed down on his next two, allowing just 4 runs in 10 innings. It’s unclear how many innings he will play, as he hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since August 21 after running out of time following a positive COVID-19 test.
With their season potentially on the line, the Mariners will look to acquiring trade deadline Tyler Anderson (7-10, 4.41 ERA, 4.26 FIP between Pirates and Mariners). While Anderson has given Seattle steady innings over the final two months of the season, they are better off hoping his performance on Sunday goes better than his previous outing against the Angels as he was unable to register a withdrawal in third on Sept. 25 (his line final in the evening was nine runs on nine hits, walks one, allocates a home run, and takes none).