(All times Eastern, starters subject to change)
Boston Red Sox (Price 10-8, 4.29) at Baltimore Orioles (Bundy 6-3, 2.93)
7pm ET on ESPN
After the Red Sox 5-3 defeat of the Orioles last night, both teams find themselves at 66-52, tied for 2nd place in the AL East, just a game behind the Blue Jays, and 3 games ahead of the Mariners in the Wild Card race, with 44 games left on the schedule. As the competition between the two teams heats up, so too does the potential MVP candidacy of each team’s rising star.
Baltimore closer Zach Britton just set the record for most consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run, at 41. In that span he’s pitched 40 innings, struck out 46, while holding opposing batters to a .394 OPS, and racked up 31 saves. On the year he has an ERA of 0.54, and leads the league in saves with 37. Britton has been so dominant that there’s a strong to be made for him as the AL MVP, according to Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer. Using a lot of math to mesh Win Probability Added and Leverage Index to create Championship Probability Added, Lindbergh shows that Britton has increased his team’s chances of winning a championship by 4%, well ahead of reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays at 2.5%. Of course the problem with this stat is that it favors closers (who are used almost exclusively in high-leverage situations) from teams in tight races, a bais you can see in the fact that Rangers closer Sam Dyson and the Blue Jays’ Roberto Osuna ranked 3rd and 4th respectively in the AL.
For the Red Sox, rightfielder Mookie Betts in the span of the previous three days launched himself from the fringes to dead center of the AL MVP race, by mashing 3 homers and 8 RBI in a 16-2 win Sunday over the Indians, and then hitting 2 more homers and driving in all of Boston’s runs in Tuesday’s 5-3 victory over Baltimore. Following that binge, Betts now ranks in the top 10 in the AL in the following stats: WAR, batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, at bats, runs, hits, total bases, singles, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, stolen bases, extra base hits… heck, even sac flies. Add to that impressive offense the fact that he’s also in the thick of the hunt for a Gold Glove this year, with the 3rd-best dWAR among AL outfielders, and on pace for one of the 2- best seasons ever by a right-fielder, a position notoriously tricky to patrol in Fenway Park. And Betts has absolutely terrorized the O’s this season, as in just 11 games against them he’s posted 16 runs, 20 hits, 3 doubles, 8 home runs, 17 RBI, 4 walks, 47 total bases and a 1.471 OPS. Extrapolated out over 162 games, that’d be 235 runs, 294 hits, 118 homers, 250 RBI, and 691 total bases.
There’s plenty of baseball left to decide both the playoff and MVP races, but just maybe a Betts vs. Britton showdown later tonight will go a long way toward settling both.
Watch the Boston Red Sox vs. the Baltimore Orioles at 7pm ET on ESPN by subscribing to Sling Orange.
Here’s the baseball available on FOX Sports Regional Networks across the land for Sling Blue subscribers:
Toronto Blue Jays (Happ 16-3, 2.96) at New York Yankees (Sabathia 7-9, 4.20)
1:05pm ET on YES
San Diego Padres (Friedrich 4-8, 4.84) at Tampa Bay Rays (Archer 6-16, 4.39)
1:10pm ET on FOX Sports San Diego
St. Louis Cardinals (Martinez 10-7, 3.34) at Houston Astros (Fister 11-7, 3.61)
2:10pm ET on FOX Sports Midwest
Chicago White Sox (Ranaudo 1-1, 8.71) at Cleveland Indians (Carrasco 8-6, 3.21)
7:10pm ET on SportsTime Ohio
Kansas City Royals (Ventura 8-9, 4.60) at Detroit Tigers (Sanchez 6-12, 6.31)
7:10pm ET on FOX Sports Detroit & FOX Sports Kansas City
Miami Marlins (Cashner 4-9, 5.08) at Cincinnati Reds (Bailey 3-1, 6.40)
7:10pm ET on FOX Sports Cincinnati & FOX Sports Florida
Minnesota Twins (Gibson 4-7, 5.09) at Atlanta Braves (Foltynewicz 6-5, 4.50)
7:10pm ET on FOX Sports North & FOX Sports Southeast
Milwaukee Brewers (Nelson 6-12, 4.07) at Chicago Cubs (Lester 12-4, 2.93)
8:05pm ET on FOX Sports Wisconsin
Oakland Athletics (Manaea 4-7, 4.57) at Texas Rangers (Darvish 3-3, 2.77)
8:05pm ET on FOX Sports Southwest
New York Mets (Niese 8-6, 5.20) at Arizona Diamondbacks (Godley 3-2, 5.24)
9:40pm ET on FOX Sports Arizona
Seattle Mariners (Martin 1-2, 2.70) at Los Angeles Angels (Skaggs 1-1, 4.37)
10:05pm ET on FOX Sports West
Watch baseball on FOX and FOX Sports Regional Networks by subscribing to Sling Blue.