1- The only national broadcast game is
Rays vs. Yankees--MLB Network
Shields vs. Sabathia
Interest Level: 6
A match-up with playoff implications but not really. I say playoff implications as the outcome of this series will have at least a short-term impact on the AL East lead and gives the winner a shot to distance themselves from the Red Sox. I say not necessarily playoff implications because if the playoffs were to start today both teams would be in anyways.
Looking at the teams it should be a close match-up. However, looking at the pitching match-up its more likely than not the Yankees should take this. CC Sabathia is coming off a strong performance against the M's (which led my fantasy team to a loss) and another All-Star performance/strong season, etc. The Rays counter with James Shields. While Shields is an average pitcher with a strong K/BB ratio, compared to Sabathia, he doesn't really give the Rays a good chance in this game.
2-Will the Zombie Expos give Strasburg some run support?
With rookie phenom (and the main reason to pay attention) to the Nationals, Stephen Strasburg taking the hill against the Marlins, now is the good time to ask the question. Strasburg has proven himself to be big-league in just about every conceivable way. However, having a weak hitting team behind him has caused him to have a 3-2 win loss record (he gave up 2 ER in 13 innings in those two starts).
Tomorrow, Strasburg takes the hill against the other NL East team that called up an uber-prospect in June but has no hopes in contending (Marlins). It's a given that Strasburg will bring it but can their offense do enough against Ricky Nolasco to give him a win (or at least not tag him with a loss) remains to be seen.
3-How long will Dan Haren be stuck in Arizona?
With Haren starting tomorrow against the first place Padres, it seems like the appropriate time to ask the question. With the D-Backs in flux and in no hopes of contending soon, it would seem to make sense that contending teams would be willing to part ways with some prospects in exchange for pitching help down the stretch. While he hasn't pitched as well this year as he has in years past, Haren is definitely talented enough to be a talent upgrade for a contending pitching staff. Could this be the last time Haren puts on a D-Backs uniform or will his talents continue to be spent on a team that is a non-impact on the playoff chase?
4- Two bad teams, two different paths
Something that will be on display starting tomorrow as the Astros and Pirates battle each other to stay out of last place. This series will move towards answering the debate of the most effective way to 100-losses......A) Be saddled by large contracts for hitters in their 30s that are simultaneously regressing skillwise or B) Go on an 18-year rebuilding plan....my vote B)...The Astros may be terrible but they did go to the World Series 5 years ago and this is only their second straight losing season
5- The next Reds-Cubs series could be interesting to say the least
And probably not because of the quality of the match-up. While the Reds are in 1st, the Cubs are in the NL Central purgatory battling the Brewers for 3rd place. While it is a player on a rival team, it is good to see a player take their divisional rivalries seriously. The highlight of the article:
Asked why he has such disdain for the Cubs, Votto said: "We are Cincinnati Reds. We're taught to hate everything in the Central Division. That's just how it is."
While Joey Votto plays for a divisional rival for the Brewers and as a result hates the team I follow because of it, i've gotta say the honesty is refreshing. In an age where everything is uber-pc and outside factors have made it more about money than loyalty (Scott Boras.....cough......cough). It's good to see a star player back up the colors of his team. In a way, this could be a rallying cry and a turning point for the Reds (as a Brewers fan I hope i'm wrong about this) and it the snub of Byrd (and the Cubs as a whole) will add a bit of tension in the air the next time these teams match-up. Either way, this story is more interesting than reading another article about how under-rated he is (even though this is an accurate statement).........seriously, this dude could win the MVP if he keeps doing what he's doing and the Reds hold on.