September baseball has a way of grabbing everyone's attention. Now more then ever, playoff races are easier to access. Teams like the Yankees, Astros, Dodgers, Braves, and Twins, have put themselves in a position with little to worry about, but both Wild Card races and the NL Central are still up in the air. With mlb.tv and MLB’s At Bat app, baseball fans can jump into just about any baseball game nowadays, East Coast to West Coast—take your pick.
Baseball fans usually have a favorite team, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t open to watching other games. The love for the sport spans many teams, stadiums, and levels of competition. September makes for the best time to tune in around the league, as you can feel the tension rising as teams continue to battle, inching closer to a playoff spot or staving off elimination. Magic numbers are dropping rapidly, the standing are changing, and dramatic moments are plentiful.
With less than a month left in the season, teams who are looking to play in October need to get hot and stay hot. There are always some important series to watch during this time of year, and this week is no different. With that said, here are some interesting series to look out for this week.
These two teams had active trade deadlines, but in opposite ways. The Mets added veteran Marcus Stroman, while the Diamondbacks traded away Zack Greinke and added rookie Zac Gallen. Despite shipping off their staff ace, the Diamondbacks haven’t called it quits and are currently battling for the second NL Wild Card spot. Not far behind them are the Mets, looking to climb over a few teams and join the October tournament as well.
One can argue this series is more important for the Mets because they can get closer to an Arizona team currently in front of them in the Wild Card race. They’ll also hope for the Braves to take down the Phillies, essentially having the possibility of skipping two teams. For the Diamondbacks, who have a slightly better chance at this moment, beating the Mets could eliminate one more competitor and bring them closer to the Cubs or Nationals.
Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies
The Braves, as mentioned before, have little to worry about, so this series is all about the Phillies. If they aren’t able to stop a hot Braves team during this four-game series at home, they could get left behind. Not only do they have to face the Braves to begin the week, but they host the Boston Red Sox after, then go on the road to face the Braves once again. That’s 10 games that can very well end their chances if they don’t step up to the challenge.
Washington Nationals vs. Minnesota Twins
One of the best offenses in the AL will face one of the best rotations in the NL for this late-season interleague battle. The Nationals have to be careful, however, because their next nine games are against current first-place clubs, starting with the Twins, then the Braves, and finally the Cardinals. Starting this stretch on the right foot could be the difference between keeping home-field advantage for the Wild Card Game or even playing in it all.
The Twins have yet to catch up to the Yankees and Astros in the race for home-field advantage, but they can’t be counted out. They play in a weakened AL Central facing the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers for their last 13 games. It isn’t necessarily a long shot for the first-place Twins, but facing a team like the Nationals who are looking to win each game could determine whether or not home-field is even a possibility for them.