It’s time to check back in on the American League’s second Wild Card race, which is basically the only playoff spot up for grabs in either league.
There’s still a slim chance that the Rangers could self-destruct and go from winning the AL West division to grabbing the second Wild Card spot, but short of that happening it’s a three-team race among the Astros, Angels, and Twins.
Yesterday the Twins split a doubleheader with the Indians, the Angels lost to an AL-worst A’s team that started Barry Zito in his career sendoff, and the Astros escaped Seattle with a win against the Mariners.
Astros: 84-75, — GB
Angels: 83-75, 0.5 GB
Twins: 82-76, 1.5 GB
Here’s where FanGraphs sees the current Wild Card odds with four days to go in the regular season:
Astros – 65%
Angels – 25%
Twins – 4%
That leaves 6% remaining, which belongs to the Rangers in case they tumble out of the division lead. And that’s still possible because the Rangers finish the season with a four-game series versus the Angels, in Texas.
Here are the remaining schedules:
Astros: 3 at Diamondbacks
Angels: 4 at Rangers
Twins: 1 at Indians, 3 vs Royals
They’re all fighting for a chance to play the Wild Card game against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, the winner of which goes on to play the AL-best Blue Jays or Royals in the ALDS.
Torey Lovullo took over as interim Red Sox manager in August when John Farrell went on a leave of absence following news that he’d been diagnosed with stage one lymphoma.
Lovullo has managed the Red Sox to a 28-16 (.636) record compared to the team’s 50-64 (.439) record under Farrell this season, leading to lots of speculation about Farrell’s job status, but according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com the revamped front office intends to keep Farrell as manager for next season “as long as he’s healthy enough to do so.”
There are two key issues at play here. One is that Farrell has a 121-155 record as manager since 2014, so regardless of his health status there was speculation that the Red Sox might have looked to make a change. Beyond that, Lovullo has frequently been in the running for manager jobs–including finishing runner-up to Paul Molitor in the Twins’ search last offseason–so it’s very possible that his helping to turn around the Red Sox in Farrell’s absence could lead to him finally getting his own gig. In other words, it may truly be choosing between Farrell and Lovullo because the odds of Lovullo sticking around in the same bench coach role may be slim.
Farrell signed a two-year contract extension during spring training that covers 2016 and 2017. And of course he’s not even two years removed from winning a World Series. McAdam reports that in new team president Dave Dombrowski’s first meeting with the staff in August he “said Farrell’s job would be waiting for him next spring.”
In order to add more pitching depth for the final week of the season–this time in the form of journeyman left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes–the Angels have cleared a spot on the 40-man roster by designating Grant Green for assignment.
Green was Oakland’s first-round draft pick in 2009 and appeared twice on Baseball America’s top-100 prospects list, but the A’s gave him up in exchange for utility man Alberto Callaspo in mid-2013 and he’s largely been a disappointment for the Angels.
Green has hit just .249 with three homers and a .618 OPS in 109 games as a major leaguer, although he’s never really gotten an extended opportunity to play every day. He brings defensive versatility to the table, having played every infield position and left field in the big leagues, but Green is stretched as a middle infielder. Flaws and all, at age 27 you’d think some team could find room for Green in 2016.
All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley‘s shoulder injury has convinced the Indians to shut him down for the final six games of the season.
Production-wise Brantley was nearly able to duplicate his breakout 2014 campaign, hitting .310 with 15 homers, a league-leading 45 doubles, and an .859 OPS. However, he played just 137 games after totaling 156 last year thanks to lingering left shoulder problems and the recent right shoulder injury.
With plus defense and a solid bat Brantley was always a good all-around regular for the Indians, but during the past two seasons he’s emerged as one of the best outfielders in baseball by upping his offensive value from good to great. Under team control through 2018, he’s become a bargain for Cleveland … assuming the shoulder issues don’t linger into next year.