LEADING OFF: Resting up, rainy forecast, AL West scramble
A look at what’s happening around the major leagues Friday:
REST `EM UP
Sure, the Blue Jays would like to hold off Kansas City for the best record in the American League and lock up home-field advantage throughout the postseason. But Toronto manager John Gibbons says it’s more important to get his team ready for the playoffs, and that can mean resting his regulars in the final week. Star sluggers Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion didn’t play Thursday at Baltimore, and no telling who will be in the lineup for the series opener at Tampa Bay.
”I’ve got to do what’s best for these guys – not what some bozo out there in fantasy land thinks,” Gibbons said.
WEATHER OR NOT
Heavy rain is the forecast for the East Coast, and Hurricane Joaquin could bring even more trouble. Start times in Baltimore and Philadelphia were moved up several hours Thursday, and games at Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park and Citi Field could be affected this weekend.
UP FOR GRABS
The AL West is the only division that hasn’t been settled. Texas leads, and will pitch 24-year-old lefty Martin Perez (3-6, 4.77 ERA) at home against Jered Weaver and the playoff-hopeful Angels. The Astros, still in the thick of the races for the division and second AL wild card, start 19-game winner Dallas Keuchel at Arizona.
RIGHT AT HOME
The Pirates try to bring the NL wild-card game to PNC Park when they host Cincinnati this weekend. Francisco Liriano, 8-1 in his last 15 starts, pitches the opener for Pittsburgh. The Cubs have clinched the other NL wild-card spot, but need a lot to go right to get that one-game matchup at Wrigley Field.
Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, leading the majors with 21 wins, makes his final regular-season start when he pitches at Milwaukee.