MLB Week 22: A Look Ahead at Key Storylines and Matchups
There is just over a month left in the Major League Baseball season with many teams looking at close to 30 games remaining on their schedule. So as the stakes get higher down the stretch, so do the storylines across the league. Roster changes may be coming, milestones will be reached, and huge divisional matchups are on the way.
The Real Trade Deadline – MLB teams have an opportunity to make up for what was a dud of a non-waiver trading deadline last month by making some more moves this week. The waiver trade deadline comes on Saturday, and in order for any teams to make deals, a team must either claim a player or work something out if he goes unclaimed. MLB Trade Rumors has compiled a list of players who have cleared waivers altogether, who can potentially be dealt to anyone. Among those players are Adam Dunn, Dan Haren, Josh Johnson, Justin Morneau, and Michael Young. As for players who are not on that list, if you’re hoping for a few deals before Saturday, don’t expect much. A National League GM told the Boston Globe’s Nick Carfardo that many teams are claiming players to block them from going elsewhere, but who knows what can happen as the deadline nears.
Milestone Moments – Last week, Ichiro Suzuki collected his 4,000th career professional hit between Japan and the U.S., and two more major league stars are approaching benchmarks of their own. Rockies first baseman Todd Helton currently sits four hits shy of 2,500 for his 17-year career. He’ll have three game series at home against the Giants and Reds this week to get it done. Meanwhile, Red Sox DH David Ortiz is just seven hits short of 2,000. Because of games last week in National League ballparks, Ortiz was out of the lineup for a couple of games, but he should return to the cleanup spot now that he returns home to face the Orioles and White Sox. Ortiz is hitting .316 at home this year, and it may not take him long to get the seven hits that he needs.
Twenty Wins in Sight – Detroit’s Max Scherzer became just the third pitcher in MLB history to win 19 of his first 20 decisions when he outdueled the Mets’ Matt Harvey on Saturday. Scherzer has been outstanding all season long, and his only loss came on July 13th against the Rangers. He has established himself as the A.L. Cy Young Award favorite and is far and away the major league wins leader. His next step, as he also prepares to cross the 200 strikeout threshold, is to win his 20th game. He could get that done in August if he wins his next start. He is scheduled to pitch against Oakland on Thursday afternoon. He has faced the A’s only once this year, and it came back in April. He went six innings and allowed two runs while striking out 11. His Tigers actually lost that game 4-3.
Matchups of the Week – For high stakes baseball this week, look no further than the N.L. Central, particularly the Cardinals. St. Louis is tied with Pittsburgh atop the division, but the Reds are right on their heels 2.5 games back. And the Cardinals will play both of them this week. They’ll start out with three at home against the Reds, then head to PNC park for three there. And it won’t get any easier after that, as the Cards have series against the same two teams next week, too. A lot could happen in the Central over the next week or two. As for the rest of baseball, hHere are other series and pitching matchups to watch in the coming days.
Series of the Week – Reds-Cardinals (Monday-Wednesday), Athletics-Tigers (Monday-Thursday), Orioles-Red Sox (Tuesday-Thursday), Indians-Braves (Tuesday-Thursday), Orioles-Yankees (Friday-Sunday), Cardinals-Pirates (Friday-Sunday), Indians-Tigers (Friday-Sunday), Rays-Athletics (Friday-Sunday)