As the month of August comes to a close, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Postseason eligibility for external additions ends today:
With several quality names currently on the waiver wire and more potentially useful pieces available through free agency, teams and players will have to match up by 11:59pm ET tonight in order for players to retain postseason eligibility with their new organizations. That won’t be an issue in the case of waiver wire players like Lucas Giolito, Matt Moore, Randal Grichuk, Hunter Renfroe and Harrison Bader, as the waiver period on those players ends this afternoon. Players who were recently released or elected free agency, such as Josh Donaldson, Adam Kolarek and Trey Mancini, will presumably look to find a new home before the end of the night. While they could sign with a club in September, they would only be eligible to participate in regular season games for the major league club.
2. AL West turns toward September:
Every team in the AL West has a day off today, leaving the Mariners, Astros, and Rangers bunched within half a game of each other at the top of the division as the calendar flips to September. Houston has something of an advantage headed into the season’s final month due to the easiest strength of schedule among the three clubs, including six games against the Royals and three against the A’s, though Seattle arguably has the most control over its own fate among the three clubs. The final three series of the Mariners’ schedule are on the road against the Rangers (3 games), at home against the Astros (3 games), and at home against the Rangers (4 games). Given the number of intra-divisional games at the end of the schedule with three teams still in hot pursuit of the division title, it seems likely that the AL West race will go down to the wire this season.
3. Series Preview: Braves @ Dodgers
The Braves have started their west coast road trip on a strong note to this point, taking two of three against the Giants at Oracle Park before sweeping the Rockies at Coors Field. Meanwhile, the Dodgers posted an identical record in taking two of three from the Red Sox at Fenway while sweeping the Diamondbacks at home. The two titans of the NL will clash in a four-game set starting today at Dodger Stadium. With both clubs already all but guaranteed a bye in the postseason, the coming series provides a possible preview of the 2023 NLCS, in addition to a rematch of the same series from both 2020 and 2021.
Right-hander Spencer Strider (3.46 ERA) will take the mound this evening against fellow righty Lance Lynn (5.56 ERA), who despite weak overall numbers this season sports a sterling 2.03 ERA in five starts since being traded to Los Angeles. While the Dodgers haven’t announced the starter who will take on right-hander Bryce Elder (3.50 ERA) on Saturday, Friday will see a matchup of southpaws Max Fried (2.85 ERA) and Julio Urias (4.41 ERA). On Sunday, 39-year-old veteran Charlie Morton (3.29 ERA) will face off against 24-year-old rookie Bobby Miller (4.00 ERA).