Well, this is it. The final day of the 2013 regular season. And there are still things to be decided.
The Indians stayed hot and beat the Twins on Saturday behind a dominant Scott Kazmir, clinching at least a tie in the American League Wild Card race with a current record of 91-70. The Rangers topped the Angels with a big day of offense and the Rays lost their second game in a row to the out-of-contention Blue Jays. Which has both Texas and Tampa Bay at 90-71 heading into Sunday.
There would have to be tiebreaker games on both Monday and Tuesday in the event of a three-way tie. If we finish with a two-way tie for the second Wild Card spot, there would be one tiebreaker game on Monday.
In the National League, the top postseason seed is still up for grabs. The Cardinals cruised past the Cubs to move to 96-65 and the Braves lost to the Phillies, falling to 95-66 on the year. If the Cards win their season-finale on Sunday against Chicago, they’ll play the winner of the National League Wild Card Game (Reds or Pirates) in the five-game NLDS. The Braves would then get the Dodgers in their five-game NLDS. If the Cards lose on Sunday and the Braves win, the Braves claim that top spot because they had a a better head-to-head record against St. Louis this season. Got all that?
Your Saturday box scores and recaps:
Angels 4, Rangers 7
Indians 5, Twins 1
Pirates 8, Reds 3
Rays 2, Blue Jays 7
Padres 9, Giants 3
Athletics 5, Mariners 7
Brewers 4, Mets 2 (10 innings)
Cubs 2, Cardinals 6
Red Sox 5, Orioles 6
Royals 5, White Sox 6
Phillies 5, Braves 4
Yankees 2, Astros 1
Tigers 1, Marlins 2 (10 innings)
Nationals 2, Diamondbacks 0
Rockies 1, Dodgers 0
Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?
Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.
It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.
Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.