What we're watching: Rays vs. Red Sox

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Seattle‘s Brandon Morrow will make his first major league appearance since July 10 when he starts against the Rangers.  The 25-year-old was being used carefully in Triple-A Tacoma, though he did throw a nine-inning shutout on Aug. 14.  In four starts since, he had pitched 19 1/3 innings and allowed six earned runs.  He had a 4.55 ERA in six starts for the Mariners before being sent down.  Texas will start Kevin Millwood, whose 2010 option would vest at $12 million if he throws eight innings tonight.

 

– The Giants have fallen 4 1/2 games behind the still surging Rockies in the wild card, so it’s be a great time for Matt Cain to pick up his first win against the Dodgers as the two teams begin a three-game series.  Cain has a respectable 3.97 ERA versus L.A. in 12 career starts, but that’s resulted in an 0-6 record.  Cain finally prevailed last week against the Brewers to snap a seven-game winless streak.  His opponent in this one will be Hiroki Kuroda, who came off the DL to allow three earned runs over five innings in a loss to the Padres on Sunday.

 

Game of the Night

 

Tampa Bay vs. Boston – In a freefall that started when they lost two out of three to the Red Sox at home, the Rays can only play spoiler now.  Still, they will have that chance this weekend in Boston and in two weeks when they play in Texas.  The Red Sox are currently two games up on the Rangers in the wild card, and they have Jon Lester on the mound tonight.  Tampa Bay will start James Shields, who saw his ERA jump over 4.00 for the first time since April when he gave up six runs last time out against the Tigers.  Lester is 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA since the break, and he’s turned in two gems against the Rays during that time.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics