Dan's Dugout: Yanks have most at stake in Subway Series • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Yanks have most at stake in Subway Series

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NEW YORK — If there’s going to a Subway Series in October, the New York Yankees need to win this weekend’s Subway Series first.

The three-game series that starts Friday in Flushing pits a cruising Mets team against a Yankees team desperate to salvage at least a foothold in the expanded playoffs, which now features four rounds.

MVP contender Josh Donaldson (20) has led the Jays all year Image Credit: Bill Menzel

MVP contender Josh Donaldson (20) has led the Jays all year
Image Credit: Bill Menzel

If the Toronto Blue Jays hold off the Yankees in the American League East title chase, Joe Girardi’s team will vie with the Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, and maybe even the Cleveland Indians for the right to play in a sudden-death playoff before the playoffs.

The winner of that game will then become the wild-card champion and proceed to a Division Series against the American League club with the best record.

Chances are that the Rangers or the Astros will win the West, throwing the loser of that tussle into the wild-card scramble. If the Yankees host the wild-card game, which is mathematically possible, they will  have a huge advantage because of all their lefthanded power — in a stadium with a short right field.

But the Yankees know anything can happen in a sudden-death game and would much rather take the AL East and take their chances in the best-of-five that follows.

The Mets don’t have such worries. Their surge, coupled with the collapse of the Washington Nationals, means they will probably clinch the division during the weekend.

Their biggest worry is when, where, and how Matt Harvey will be used. He and his agent, Scott Boras, have been vocal about limiting his innings so that his surgically-repaired right elbow won’t be over-taxed.

Fortunately for the Mets, so many off-days are built into postseason series that teams can get by with

Jacob deGrom has been a formidable force for the Mets all season

Jacob deGrom has been a formidable force for the Mets all season

only three starters. If manager Terry Collins were picking today, his choices would be Jacob deGrom, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year; Noah Syndergaard, this year’s top rookie pitcher; and wily veteran Bartolo Colon, who has silenced skeptics critical of his age and weight to win more games than anyone else on the staff.

Collins has plenty of power too, from midseason acquisition Yoenis Cespedes to team captain David Wright, lefthanded slugger Lucas Duda, and rookie Michael Conforto.

The Yankees continue to count on veterans, including former National Leaguers Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, to overpower opponents. But they will miss the power of switch-hitting slugger Mark Teixeira, sidelined for the duration with a broken bone in his leg.

The lefty-right Bronx bullpen tandem of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances may be baseball’s best — but the Yankee starters have to hold rivals in check before the late-inning firemen can spring into action.

Dellin Betances has been lights out in the Yankees bullpen

Dellin Betances has been lights out in the Yankees bullpen

With the Mets coasting and the Yankees scrambling, the weekend means much more to the American Leaguers than their rivals from Flushing. In fact, with their first winning season since 2008, the Mets may be on the verge of taking the city by storm. They’ve only two world titles, in 1969 and 1986, but a third is certainly within the realm of possibility.

Elsewhere in baseball:

Don’t look now but the Minnesota Twins are still breathing in the American League’s wild-card race . . .

Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto has the best batting average in the bigs since the All-Star break . . .

The Texas Rangers got a huge boost in their quest for a playoff berth from the return of lefthanded starter Derek Holland, out four months with a torn muscle behind his pitching shoulder . . .

After missing more than three months with a torn quadriceps, St. Louis first baseman Matt Adams has brought his lefthanded power back to the Cardinals lineup . . .

King Felix will never forget the date August 15

King Felix will never forget the date August 15

Seattle southpaw Felix Hernandez won’t soon forget August 15, the date of his best and worst games: a perfect game in 2012 and a career-worst 10 earned runs allowed in 2015 . . .

The wife of Mets relief pitcher Hansel Robles is not named Gretl . . .

With Madison Bumgarner and Mike Leake on the same team, San Francisco has the best-hitting pitching rotation in the major leagues . . .

It hardly matters now but sparkplug second baseman Joe Panik has been shut down by the Giants . . .

That low earned run average should push National League Cy Young Award voters to pick Zack Grienke

Zack Grienke remains the NL's Cy Young favorite

Zack Grienke remains the NL’s Cy Young favorite

of the Dodgers over teammate Clayton Kershaw and Cubs ace Jake Arrieta . . .

Houston ace Dallas Keuchel, who started the All-Star Game for the American League, is the likely AL favorite with a 17-7 record, 2.22 ERA, and Gold Glove defense . . .

The New York Mets, who signed Colorado slugger Michael Cuddyer during the past off-season, are surprised but happy that rookie Michael Conforto has pushed him aside in left field . . .

Bovada, a Las Vegas oddsmaker, says Toronto is the best bet to win the World Series, followed by Kansas City and St. Louis. The Mets are fifth at 9-1 with the Yankees tied for sixth at 12-1 . . .

Yankees rookie Slade Heathcott picked a great time for his second home run: the ninth inning of a 1-1 game with two men on base in Tampa Bay . . .

The Jays already miss the injured Troy Tulowitzki

The Jays already miss the injured Troy Tulowitzki

Toronto wasted little time adding slick-fielding ex-Cub Darwin Barney from the Dodgers on waivers after Troy Tulowitzski suffered a fractured left scapula (shoulder) in a collision with teammate Kevin Pillar . . .

Fired Phillies GM Ruben Amaro was a batboy for the team when it won its first world championship, in 1980 . . .

Surprise, surprise: Oakland gave manager Bob Melvin a two-year extension even though the 2015 team fell to the bottom of the AL West after three straight playoff seasons . . .

Philadelphia has a half-dozen top prospects in second baseman Cesar Hernandez, shortstop J.P. Crawford, third baseman Maikel Franco, outfielder Odubel Herrera, starting pitcher Aaron Nola, and closer Ken Giles . . .

After going 1-1 in their two wild-card games, the Pittsburgh Pirates hope they can catch the slumping St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central . . .

The performance of lefthander J.A. Happ, acquired from Seattle, has been a huge help . . .

If Detroit fires highly-regarded manager Brad Ausmus, as expected, he’ll probably wind up in San Diego next season . . .

Prospects or suspects: the Phillies traded Cliff Lee in 2010 and Hunter Pence in 2012 without getting anybody now on their roster . . .

Injured Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi has the highest average fastball velocity of any starting pitcher . . .

If the Dodgers win the NL West, as seems probable, it will be the first time in franchise history that a Dodger team has reached the postseason three years in a row . . .

Because of shoulder surgery, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is now throwing batting practice

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is throwing BP righthanded these days

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is throwing BP righthanded these days

righthanded, with new third-base coach Ron Roenicke providing a lefthanded arm . . .

Players, coaches, and managers polled by Baseball America say Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer has the best slider in the American League . . .

Of the three current interim managers, Philadelphia’s Pete Mackanin has the best chance to return . . .

Two of the six no-hitters thrown this season were pitched by players traded in midseason: Mike Fiers (Astros) and Cole Hamels (Rangers), who threw his in his last start for Philadelphia . . .

Former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, completing his first season in Los Angeles, could be out of a job next year if blue-chip rookie Corey Seager continues to live up to his advance notices . . .

Did-you-know dept.: two-time MVP and Hall of Fame member Robin Yount never had a 30-homer season . . .

Although no one has ever pitched two perfect games, Ron Hassey has caught two: by Len Barker in 1981 and Dennis Martinez 10 years later . . .

The 2015 Atlanta Braves lost the most consecutive home games in franchise history . . .

Adrian Beltre is a Cooperstown candidate Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Adrian Beltre is a Cooperstown candidate
Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

The only third basemen with more home runs than Pittsburgh’s Aramis Ramirez are Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews and Mike Schmidt and future Hall of Famers Chipper Jones and Adrian Beltre . . .

Overlooked Cooperstown candidate Gary Sheffield (.292, 509 homers, 253 stolen bases) never struck out more than 83 times per year and walked more often than he fanned in 16 different seasons.

 

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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