The Game Planner, August 7th-13th

Only four days feature watchable games this week, although for those who are fans of west coast baseball, there are plenty of opportunities to see those teams relative to their usual inconvenient game times. There are also parts of series with significant playoff implications that can be seen, most notably featuring Cleveland, who can be watched against both Colorado and Tampa Bay this week, and the crunch Red Sox-Yankees clash on Saturday night.

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, August 7th
None

Tuesday, August 8th
None

Wednesday, August 9th
5:10 PM – Rockies @ Indians
5:10 PM – Rangers @ Mets
8:35 PM – Mariners @ Athletics (Free Game)
8:37 PM – Orioles @ Angels
8:45 PM – Cubs @ Giants (Top Pitching Matchup) (BT) Madison Bumgarner is finally back in the Giants rotation and presumably banned from riding dirt bikes for the remainder of his contract. His last two starts have been excellent despite having to face two of the NL’s best lineups this year, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks: seven strong innings in each with a strikeout per inning, and just three walks and two runs given up across the two starts combined. Kyle Hendricks has not been the Cy Young contender of 2016 but since coming off the DL on July 24th, his trademark control looks to be returning, as he has walked just two batters and has a 2.76 ERA over three starts. The Giants played much better than they have the majority of this season in a weekend series win against Arizona, while the Cubs have been the NL’s second-best lineup since the All-Star Break, so this should be a fascinating matchup.

Thursday, August 10th
5:35 PM – Padres @ Reds – Not a lot in the way of playoff interest on Thursday, so let’s turn instead to two rookie pitchers with some serious strikeout upside. Reds starter Luis Castillo sits at 97mph with his fastball and touches 100 (useful when you’re facing Aaron Judge), while also throwing a changeup and slider that he has been able to generate a good amount of swing and miss with, and has recently added a sinker to help his ground ball rate spike to over 58%. His control still leaves something to be desired, but the components of a good arsenal look to be coming together for the 24-year-old. Dinelson Lamet doesn’t quite have Castillo’s velocity, but he does still routinely top 95 and gets even more strikeouts, predominantly a result of his slider. Similar control issues, reliance on just two pitches, and a concerningly large number of home runs – 11 in 63 1/3 innings – have marred his line thus far, and if the changeup doesn’t come along, a future in the bullpen seems likely, where the fastball-slider combo could actually make him a significant threat.
6:10 PM – Pirates @ Tigers (BT)

Friday, August 11th
None

Saturday, August 12th
6:07 PM – Pirates @ Blue Jays (BT)
9:05 PM – Red Sox @ Yankees (BT) – Yes, it’s predictable to select a Red Sox-Yankees matchup, but this is a genuinely high-stakes affair in the ongoing rollercoaster of a battle in the AL East. After seeming to let the Bronx Bombers back into the race once again, Boston has opened up a three-game lead by winning six in a row. Neither team has got much going offensively since the break, which makes it all the more important that they have the best team ERAs in the AL over the past month, the Red Sox posting a 3.23 mark while the Yanks come in at an even 3.00. Both starters have made a significant contribution to that: Drew Pomeranz has struck out nearly a quarter of batters this season and has a 2.64 ERA in the past 30 days, while Luis Severino‘s exceptional season has continued with a miniscule 1.36 ERA in that span. Severino has 162 strikeouts in just 139 1/3 innings this year and has not given up more than a single earned run in a start since July 8th. Watch out for his hard slider, a pitch getting whiffs almost 20% of the time this season as well as generating a ton of grounders.

Sunday, August 13th
6:07 PM – Pirates @ Blue Jays (Free Game)
6:10 PM – Indians @ Rays (BT) – For those of you attending this Sunday’s meetup in Manchester, this is the correct choice of game to watch on the night. Cleveland has a slender 2 1/2 game lead over the Royals in the Central, while the Rays are a half-game behind Kansas City for the second Wild Card berth and also 2 1/2 back of the Yankees, who currently hold the first spot. If those playoff stakes weren’t enough, Corey Kluber should be getting the ball for the 2016 AL Champions. Kluber recently matched a strikeout streak that only Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, and Nolan Ryan had previously achieved, and if you don’t know much about those guys, it’s time to spend a few hours on Baseball Reference and Youtube so you know just how impressive that company is. He’ll try to silence the hot bats of Steven Souza, new acquisition Lucas Duda, and Rays legend Evan Longoria, who has more extra-base hits than strikeouts since the All-Star Break.
6:10 PM – Twins @ Tigers
6:10 PM – Rockies @ Marlins
6:35 PM – Giants @ Nationals
6:35 PM – Mets @ Phillies
7:10 PM – Royals @ White Sox
7:10 PM – Reds @ Brewers
7:15 PM – Braves @ Cardinals
8:05 PM – Astros @ Rangers (Top Offensive Matchup) – Look, you can tell me to stop putting the Astros in here all you want, but consider these facts. The Astros are the league’s best lineup by wRC+ in the following splits: last 14 days, last 30 days, the first half, the second half, vs LHP, vs RHP, home, away, the past calendar year, the past two calendar years, the past three calendar years…oh, and this season, of course. Their state rivals are not even close to being that good, but they do have Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor heating up, with 12 homers combined over the past two weeks, and future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre resuming his typically exceptional level of performance after an extended DL stint, slashing .292/.364/.505 since his return.
9:05 PM – Orioles @ Athletics
9:10 PM – Angels @ Mariners
9:10 PM – Padres @ Dodgers
9:10 PM – Cubs @ Diamondbacks (BT)

Leave a Reply