The Game Planner, July 3rd-July 9th

While some readers will get to watch actual baseballs being crushed in person tomorrow, many still need to rely on the TV options. It’s actually a bumper week, with at least one watchable game every day, so if you’re disappointed about not being able to make tomorrow’s event, there’s some consolation in the fact that you can watch baseball at a sensible hour every day this week. To make the schedule even better, there’s a ton of MLB.tv free games and BT coverage this week, offering loads of choice even if you’re not an MLB.tv subscriber. 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.

Watchable Games

Monday, July 3rd
7:10PM – Brewers @ Orioles (Free Game) (BT)Interleague action as Baltimore heads to Milwaukee, and both teams still have a lot on the line. The Orioles are clinging on at the tail end of the Wild Card contenders in the AL, while the Brewers are probably getting pretty tired of people saying the Cubs are going to overtake them given that it’s July and they’re still in first place. 31st-round pick Brent Suter will make just his fourth career start for the Brewers. He has been pitching in Colorado Springs in the Pacific Coast League when not in the majors, excellent preparation for this home run-happy league. The fact that he has given up just one home run so far in his fifteen innings will be tested against the boom-or-bust Orioles lineup.

Tuesday, July 4th
4:05 PM – Mets @ Nationals (Free Game) (BT)
6:05 PM – Blue Jays @ Yankees
6:10 PM – Giants @ Tigers
7:10 PM – Angels @ Twins
7:15 PM – Marlins @ Cardinals
7:20 PM – Rays @ Cubs (Top Pitching Matchup) – Rays ace Chris Archer faces Jon Lester at Wrigley Field in our pitching matchup of the week. On the face of things, their ERAs (3.92 and 3.69) are not that exciting, but given that league-average is in the mid-4s these days, that makes both starters considerably better than the majority of pitchers. Archer still has exceptional strikeout numbers, whiffing 28.6% of batters this year, many with his wipeout slider. Lester’s punchout potential isn’t quite as high, but he still gets almost a quarter of batters to whiff, and he has a remarkably consistent delivery that makes it difficult to tell which pitch he’s throwing given near-identical release points, causing batters to make sub-optimal decisions on a regular basis.
9:00 PM – Pirates @ Phillies (BT)
9:05 PM – White Sox @ Athletics
9:10 PM – Orioles @ Brewers

Wednesday, July 5th
6:05 PM – Blue Jays @ Yankees (BT)
7:20 PM – Rays @ Cubs
8:35 PM – White Sox @ Athletics (Free Game) Sonny Gray may be on his way out of Oakland sooner rather than later, but for now he’s still an Athletic, and this may be a great chance for the A’s to showcase his talents against a White Sox team that has just a .303 wOBA against righties, the worst mark in the AL. Mike Pelfrey has 41 strikeouts and 28 walks in 65 1/3 innings, which is another way of saying that Yonder Alonso, Khris Davis, and Ryon Healy, who have a combined 59 homers between them, could also have a decent day.

Thursday, July 6th
6:10 PM – Giants @ Tigers (BT) – The Giants have won six in a row, which is great, and still have a worse record than the Padres, which is not. It almost means that the likes of Johnny Cueto, who can opt out of his contract at the end of the year, are very likely to be on the way out. San Francisco would like him to impress a little more than he has done so far this year in order to maximise his trade value, but his extremely good track record should mean that won’t matter too much. One of the hitters he’ll face, J.D. Martinez, might be the most attractive hitter likely to be traded. Despite missing over a month with injury, Martinez has 14 homers already, and has an .898 OPS over the previous three seasons.
6:45 PM – Marlins @ Cardinals (Free Game)
7:20 PM – Brewers @ Cubs
8:10 PM – Reds @ Rockies

Friday, July 7th
7:20 PM – Pirates @ Cubs (BT) – It’s Friday night and the Cubs are home, so you know what that means: 7:20 baseball. Milwaukee still sits in first place, which isn’t yet concerning to Chicago, but might be in another month or so. Even the Pirates are only four games back of Chicago, but at some point the champions have to pull away…right? They’ll probably need the bats to be lively in this one, as reclamation project Eddie Butler has a much worse K/BB ratio than Mike Pelfrey (a damning sentence if ever I wrote one) and has only got away with a low-4 ERA by surrendering just three home runs. That will change as things heat up at Wrigley.

Saturday, July 8th
6:05 PM – Brewers @ Yankees
6:07 PM – Astros @ Blue Jays (BT)
7:10 PM – Orioles @ Twins (Free Game)
9:05 PM – Braves @ Nationals (BT) – Trea Turner‘s broken wrist is a blow to the Nationals, but there are still plenty of reasons to watch the NL East leaders, who had five All-Stars selected for next week’s game. Aside from the likes of Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and this game’s starter, Stephen Strasburg, Michael Taylor might give those pining for Turner something to watch. He has both power and speed, with 11 homers and 9 steals so far this season, and rates very well in centre field. Sitting as they are in a distant second place, the Braves’ main point of interest might be the fact that they still seem committed to playing Freddie Freeman at third base given the success that Matt Adams is having. Freeman made his first appearance there in a minor league rehab game over the weekend so if Atlanta is bluffing, they are certainly committed to it. Fantasy owners will be growing ever more excited at the prospect of Freeman’s multi-position eligibility.
9:05 PM – Padres @ Phillies
9:10 PM – Mets @ Cardinals
9:10 PM – Red Sox @ Rays

Sunday, July 9th
6:05 PM – Brewers @ Yankees (Top Offensive Matchup) (BT) – Who really knows what will happen to the Sunday lineups, given that it’s the last day before the All-Star break, but you can also catch these two teams on Saturday for what might be a slightly reduced risk of starters resting. Over the last 30 days, the Yankees have walked more than 10% of the time, Aaron Judge has mashed another nine homers, and Gary Sanchez is also hitting like a Hall of Famer, with a 1.020 OPS (that’s ridiculous for any position, let alone catcher). The Brewers have hit 52 home runs in the same span, with their 22-year-old shortstop Orlando Arcia batting .362 and Travis Shaw, Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana, Hernan Perez, and Eric Thames all contributing at least 5 homers. Shaw has been even better than Sanchez in that stretch.
6:07 PM – Astros @ Blue Jays
6:10 PM – Pirates @ Cubs
6:10 PM – Red Sox @ Rays
6:35 PM – Braves @ Nationals
6:35 PM – Padres @ Phillies
7:10 PM – Orioles @ Twins
7:15 PM – Mets @ Cardinals
8:05 PM – Angels @ Rangers
8:10 PM – White Sox @ Rockies
9:05 PM – Marlins @ Giants
9:10 PM – Athletics @ Mariners
9:10 PM – Royals @ Dodgers
9:10 PM – Reds @ Diamondbacks

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