The Game Planner, June 12th-18th

Are you a baseball fan in the UK? Looking for MLB games you can watch AND still get 7 hours sleep afterwards? You’re in the right place. If you’re new to the feature, welcome, and please read the original post if you’re looking for a full explanation of what the planner aims to do.

The quick notes for those wanting to get right to the games: every game that is likely to end before about midnight UK time is counted as a ‘Watchable Game’. 9:10 PM is usually the latest start time I will include, unless there is a slightly later game of particular note. Each day I will pick out at least one watchable game of interest (identified in bold) and note some reasons why you might want to tune in, such as a particularly exciting player, a key divisional matchup, or a team on a hot streak.

A disclaimer: the schedule, both in terms of game times and projected starters, is extremely subject to change as a result of weather conditions, injuries, and the simple fact that teams sometimes change their minds about how they want to line up their starters, so please be aware that the information below is not set in stone.

The colour coded aspects of the planner are as follows:

Top Pitching Matchup – this week’s most interesting pitching duel, featuring two pitchers of either high quality or of note in some other way, such as a recent run of good form or an unusual pitching motion.
Top Offensive Matchup – a game featuring two of the league’s most productive lineups in recent weeks.
Free Game – MLB.tv’s Free Game of the Day, accessible via the MLB.tv schedule.
BT – A game being shown live on BT Sport, as per the BT Sport TV Guide. Please be aware that BT’s schedule is also subject to change.

On to the games, with a relatively sparse set of options during the week, but a bumper choice on Saturday and our usual Sunday day game fest to make up for it.

Watchable Games

Monday, June 12th

None

Tuesday, June 13th

7:15 PM – Brewers @ Cardinals (Top Pitching Matchup) (BT)It feels very strange to be picking a game featuring Jimmy Nelson and Lance Lynn as the top pitching matchup, but so much about this game is strange. For starters, it’s the middle of June and the division which was supposed to be a walk in the park for the Cubs is still led by the Brewers, with just four games separating first from last. Nelson has dropped his arm slot, seen a slight velocity bump and appears to be displaying the best control of his career, walking just 5.8% of batters while striking out almost a quarter. He’s in the top 20 among starting pitchers in both WAR and FIP, while Lynn is a top-20 pitcher by ERA with a 2.88 mark. The underlying stats, including a 9.3% walk rate and an 85% strand rate, are less encouraging, but in a week short on premium matchups in our viewing window, we’ll take it.

Wednesday, June 14th

5:10 PM – Athletics @ Marlins (Free Game) (BT)
8:40 PM – Reds @ Padres
8:45 PM – Royals @ Giants (BT)
9:05 PM – Braves @ Nationals – In an evening utterly devoid of other teams who are even close to being over .500, we ought to watch the Nationals, who lead the NL East by 8 1/2 games at the time of writing. Of particular note is the fact that Braves starter Julio Teheran has always struggled against lefties but this year has gone beyond just struggling, allowing a .273/.388/.537 line to them, which is remarkably similar to the career slash line of Bryce Harper. Given that Harper is a) a left-handed hitter and b) even better now than his stellar career line indicates, Teheran could be in for another tough night.

Thursday, June 15th
5:10 PM – Dodgers @ Indians
6:10 PM – Mariners @ Twins – I have extolled the virtues of Jose Berrios before so this GIF can do the talking for me if you’re wondering why you should watch the young Twins starter. Minnesota somehow still leads the AL Central, while Seattle is embroiled in a wild card battle with what appears to be almost the entire American League. Their starter Ariel Miranda is less heralded than Berrios, but can touch 96mph from the left side and utilises a splitter that batters have hit just .164 against since he made his debut last season.
7:10PM – Orioles @ White Sox (BT)

Friday, June 16th
None

Saturday, June 17th
6:07 PM – White Sox @ Blue Jays (Free Game)
7:10 PM – Indians @ Twins
8:10 PM – Giants @ Rockies
9:05 PM – Cardinals @ Orioles
9:05 PM – Yankees @ Athletics (Top Offensive Matchup) – Look, I know I keep picking the Yankees for these, but they keep hitting, and there isn’t a single Astros game on at a UK-friendly time this week, so you’re just going to have to sit back and watch Aaron Judge keep hitting bombs, ok? Over the past 30 days, Judge has a 1.212 OPS, so instead of slowing down as we all expected, he’s actually kept hitting like Barry Bonds. I’ll leave the issue of whether he’s better than division rival right fielder Mookie Betts yet up to Ben. If that wasn’t enough, the last 30 days have also seen Gary Sanchez producing a near-1.000 OPS for the Yanks, with Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, and Matt Holliday also topping .900. The A’s already had monster power threat Khris Davis, but now we can add 2017’s most surprising breakout candidate Yonder Alonso to their list of weapons. Alonso is the only player even close to matching Judge’s offensive pace in the AL; at a 1.056 OPS, he’s still over 100 points behind.
9:05 PM – Diamondbacks @ Phillies
9:10 PM – Rays @ Tigers
9:10 PM – Padres @ Brewers
9:10 PM – Marlins @ Braves
9:10 PM – Dodgers @ Reds
9:10 PM – Nationals @ Mets

Sunday, June 18th
6:07 PM – White Sox @ Blue Jays
6:10 PM – Rays @ Tigers (Free Game)
6:10 PM – Dodgers @ Reds
6:10 PM – Nationals @ Mets
6:35 PM – Cubs @ Pirates – On Monday, Jameson Taillon returned to the mound just over a month after undergoing surgery for testicular cancer and pitched five scoreless innings to help the Pirates beat the Rockies. The 25-year-old spoke to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the scary experience and what the last few weeks have been like for him. On Sunday we’ll get a chance to see him face the reigning champions, which we should all obviously take, because life is unpredictable (and also because John Lackey getting mad is always entertaining).
6:35 PM – Cardinals @ Orioles
6:35 PM – Marlins @ Braves
6:35 PM – Diamondbacks @ Phillies
7:10 PM – Padres @ Brewers
7:10 PM – Indians @ Twins
8:05 PM – Mariners @ Rangers
8:10 PM – Giants @ Rockies – The Giants are terrible. I’m qualified to say this as a Giants fan. If you are going to watch a terrible team, however, Coors Field is probably one of the best places to do it, as you’ll probably see some run-scoring at least. It will also be fascinating to see how Ty Blach, who strikes out almost no-one (he has 26 in 64 1/3 innings this year) fares in the best hitter’s park in the league. The Rockies, unlike the Giants, are not terrible, and have raised their playoff odds from just 10% at the start of the season to almost 80% now. There’s still plenty of time to blow it, but with 41 wins already banked, a wild card spot at least is looking increasingly likely.
8:37 PM – Royals @ Angels
9:05 PM – Yankees @ Athletics

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