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Looking ahead to Game(s) 163

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This afternoon we are treated to not just one but two bonus baseball games. Games 163 between the Cubs and Brewers in Chicago and the Dodgers and Rockies in Los Angeles.

It’s the eighth and ninth Game 163s since baseball moved to the three-division/wild card format. It’s the first Game 163s that do not involve a win-or-go-home scenario, as all four teams will be in the postseason. All that’s left to decide is which two teams are the Wild Card teams — the losers — and which teams will go on to the NLDS. Seeding and home field advantage is also at issue, of course.

The Cubs won the season series from Milwaukee, 11-8, but the Brewers won seven of the final ten in the series, including four of their final six which allowed them to catch up to the Cubs despite being five games back on Labor Day. Momentum clashes with dominance, however, as Jose Quintana will be on the hill for the Cubs, and he has been fantastic against the Brewers in 2018. Quintana faced Milwaukee six times in 2018, allowing only nine earned runs in 37.1 innings (2.17 ERA) while striking out 33 and walking ten. The Brewers have yet to announce who will get the start for them, but it would not be shocking if they turned it into a bullpen game. UPDATE: Nope, Jhoulys Chacin will start for the Brewers.

In Los Angeles, rookie Walker Buehler will face off against German Marquez. Both these guys had exceptional second halves, with Buehler posting a 2.21 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 89/21 in 73.1 innings over 12 starts. Buehler has faced the Rockies five times in 2018. He’s 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA in those starts. Marquez has been lights-out since the break as well, putting up a 2.55 ERA while striking out 115 dudes and walking only 18 batters in 88.1 innings over 13 starts. Marquez has faced off against the Dodgers three times, winning two of those games, with a 2.57 ERA. Both L.A. and Colorado have who they want on the mound, that’s for sure.

The first contest, between Milwaukee and Chicago, gets underway from Wrigley Field at 1:05 PM today. The second, between the Rockies and the Dodgers, starts at 4:05 PM. Both games will be on ESPN. Buckle up.

Aaron Judge has a “pretty significant strain” of his oblique

Aaron Judge
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In case you missed it over the weekend, the New York Yankees suffered yet another huge blow when another huge star went on the injured list. The star: Aaron Judge, who strained his oblique during Saturday’s 9-2 win over the Royals.

Yesterday the Yankees placed him on the injured list. In so doing, Yankees manager Aaron Boone called it a “pretty significant strain in there.” The team did not offer a timeline, but Boone said they’ll monitor Judge for a couple of weeks to see where he is. Oblique strains, however, can cause a player to miss a lot of time. Four to six weeks is not unheard of for even moderate oblique strains. Guys with major strains have missed months.

Judge is the Yankees’ 13th player currently on the injured list and is the 14th Yankees player to visit it overall on the young season. Joining him there at the moment :

It’s an All-Star team’s worth of injuries. It’s such a good group of players that Ellsbury couldn’t even make the starting lineup of the all-injured team.

Though we often ignore it in season-long narratives of successful and unsuccessful teams, choosing to focus on great or poor performances, the fact of the matter is that team health is almost always a big, big factor in who wins and who loses. No one is going to cry for the Yankees here, of course, but at some point there are just too many injuries to overcome. One has to wonder if New York has reached that point yet.