There's plenty left to decide in the National League

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And you thought this weekend would be boring.

The Padres are still alive in the National League West. They slugged three homers against Matt Cain en route to a 6-4 victory over the Giants last night. The Friars now sit two games back in the National League West with two left to play.

And don’t forget the Wild Card, either. Because the Phillies crushed the Braves 11-5 last night, the Padres are just one game back there.

Take a look at the upcoming pitching matchups:

Saturday:

Padres vs. Giants

Tim Stauffer (5-5, 1.89 ERA) vs. Barry Zito (9-13, 4.08 ERA)

Phillies vs. Braves

Vance Worley (1-1, 2.25 ERA) vs. Tommy Hanson (10-11, 3.41 ERA)

Sunday:

Padres vs. Giants

Mat Latos (14-9, 2.92 ERA) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (12-9, 3.15 ERA)

Phillies vs. Braves

Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.09 ERA) vs. Tim Hudson (16-9, 2.76 ERA)

OK, now here are the potential tiebreaker scenarios, courtesy of Dan Manella of MLB.com:

If the Padres take two out of three from the Giants and the Braves are swept by the Phillies:

The Giants would win the National League West and the Padres and Braves would play a one-game playoff Monday at Turner Field.

If the Padres sweep the Giants and the Braves are swept by the Phillies:

The
Padres would be awarded the National League West since they hold the
head-to-head advantage over the Giants this season. The Giants,
meanwhile, would win the Wild Card.

If the Padres sweep the Giants and the Braves lose two out of three to the Phillies:

Here’s
the fun one. All three teams would finish with identical 91-71 records,
forcing two tiebreaker games. The Giants and Padres would play a
one-game playoff Monday at PETCO Park to determine the winner of the
National League West. The loser of the game would then play the Braves
on Tuesday to decide the Wild Card winner.

Yeah, yeah. If the
Padres lose just one of their remaining two games and the Braves win
one, everything will be decided, but really, what fun is that? Since my
Mets are out of it, I’m rooting for chaos, baby.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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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 East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.