The Game Planner, June 19th-25th

It’s one of our lightest weeks for watchable games here in the UK, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing on: four out of seven days still feature games that start at a reasonable time, and there’s at least four to pick from on each of those days. If you’re new to this 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.

Let’s move on to the games, with another wait until Wednesday for our first watchable game:

Watchable Games

Monday, June 19th

None

Tuesday, June 20th

None

Wednesday, June 21st

5:10 PM – Nationals @ Marlins (Top Pitching Matchup)Max Scherzer is great. Not just because he’s been one of the most dominant starters in baseball for years, but also because he does this kind of thing on the mound. You should watch him pitch. 2017 has not been kind to the Marlins, but one bright spot is Scherzer’s opponent Dan Straily, who is striking out more than a batter per inning with more swings-and-misses than at any point in his career. His .265 BABIP looks a little on the lucky side, but when you consider that he’s a fly ball pitcher and his career mark is .256, this season’s 3.58 ERA starts to look a little more sustainable.
5:10 PM – Reds @ Rays (Free Game)
7:15 PM – Red Sox @ Royals (BT)
7:20 PM – Padres @ Cubs

Thursday, June 22nd
6:05 PM – Cardinals @ Phillies
6:10 PM – White Sox @ Twins
7:05 PM – Blue Jays @ Rangers
7:10 PM – Pirates @ Brewers
8:10 PM – Diamondbacks @ Rockies (Top Offensive Matchup) (BT) – Arizona and Colorado are not only in prime position to claim wild card spots, they’re still running the Dodgers close for the divisional title. At this point, the Rockies now have an 88% chance of making the playoffs, with the Diamondbacks at 83.5%. Unless you really think the Brewers are going to outperform their projections by even more than they already are, or the Mets somehow turn things around from their disaster start, there aren’t a lot of alternatives. Still, the WC game is not the best way to get in, so this divisional rivalry will be one of the key ones to watch the rest of the way as both teams try to keep LA at bay. The great news for the neutral viewer is that both teams have also been top-five offensively on the season, and are second and third over the last fortnight, with the Diamondbacks’ incredible baserunning something to watch out for in particular.
8:35 PM – Astros @ Athletics

Friday, June 23rd
None

Saturday, June 24th
6:05 PM – Rangers @ Yankees
7:10 PM – Athletics @ White Sox
7:15 PM – Blue Jays @ Royals – If you’d bet on either of these teams at long odds for a Wild Card spot after their disastrous first months, you’d be feeling pretty good right now. Their records may not look that impressive – both 33-35 at the time of writing – but that is more than good enough to keep touch in the incredibly close AL race and a miracle given their starts. After years of defying his peripherals to post better ERA marks than estimators like FIP would suggest, Marco Estrada is now posting elite peripherals but somehow has a 4.54 ERA. The Royals lineup doesn’t look like the pushover it was after their historically bad April, but logic would dictate that pending free agents like Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, and this game’s starter, Jason Vargas, will be on their way out of Kansas City soon. Vargas still has the second-best ERA in the AL amongst qualified starters and has been worth more than 2 wins to date, making this matchup with Estrada surprisingly high-end.
9:05 PM – Reds @ Nationals
9:10 PM – Twins @ Indians (BT)
9:10 PM – Brewers @ Braves
9:10 PM – Cubs @ Marlins
9:10 PM – Orioles @ Rays

Sunday, June 25th
6:10 PM – Twins @ Indians
6:10 PM – Cubs @ Marlins
6:10 PM – Orioles @ Rays
6:35 PM – Angels @ Red Sox – After weeks of Aaron Judge-fuelled Yankees focus, we should check in with the Red Sox, who have tied things up atop the AL East with the Yankees losing six in a row, while the Angels have somehow continued to hover around .500 without Mike Trout, defying everyone who pronounced them finished as soon as Trout injured his thumb. With the two-time MVP possibly returning before the All-Star break, the season doesn’t look like so much of a write-off as it did when Trout got hurt. Nonetheless, this is the kind of series that Boston ought to be winning, even with their lacklustre power output that has done nothing to dispel the notion that they would struggle without David Ortiz. Two extremely inexperienced pitchers look to be lined up for this one in Parker Bridwell and Hector Velazquez, who have the combined total of 21 1/3 innings of MLB experience. To help you get to know them, here are some Very Important Facts: Bridwell was both a star quarterback and punter for his high school team in Texas; Velazquez was previously the subject of the Giants’ interest as an outfielder, before he converted to pitching at the age of 20.
6:35 PM – Brewers @ Braves
6:35 PM – Reds @ Nationals
7:05 PM – Rangers @ Yankees
7:10 PM – Athletics @ White Sox
7:15 PM – Blue Jays @ Royals
9:05 PM – Mets @ Giants
9:10 PM – Astros @ Mariners (Free Game) – The Houston lineup is getting contributions from so many different sources that even as one or two players come off a hot streak, another couple seem to come along and make up for it. Most recently, it’s been Jose Altuve and Brian McCann, who have combined for nine doubles and six homers over the past two weeks, each comfortably posting an OPS over 1.000. The parity in the AL means that the 34-37 Mariners aren’t out of it yet, but a slew of pitching injuries has left them relying on the likes of rookie Sam Gaviglio to shore up the rotation. Gaviglio has had decent results so far, with a 3.41 ERA, and he doesn’t walk many, but his inability to get the ball past hitters might prove problematic against a lineup as good as Houston’s. Keep an eye on catcher Mike Zunino, who is doing his best to ensure that every one of his plate appearances ends in either an extra-base hit or a strikeout.
9:10 PM – Rockies @ Dodgers
9:10 PM – Phillies @ Diamondbacks

Leave a Reply