MLB: Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays

Welcome to the latest edition of the Getting Blanked podcast. Our guest this week is Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated, talking about the hot mess that is the American League playoff picture. Jay has long trumpeted the idea of “playoff entropy”, which he explains and we should all root for (if you aren’t actually rooting for one of the dogs in the fight, that is.)

Listen to the podcast directly here.

Also discussed is the relative strength of remaining schedule for the main Wild Card teams. Cleveland has it easiest with four games at home to the Astros before playing the White Sox for two games and finishing up against the Twins at Target Field. Ubaldo Jiminez goes tomorrow night for Cleveland, meaning he could pitch three more times on normal rest for Cleveland down the stretch.

The Royals face an uphill trip (with plenty of traffic, as Jay notes) not to mention their starting pitcher tonight is Bruce Chen. After an off-day, Ervin Santana throws on Friday night. After pitching Monday, James Shields is scheduled to go on Sunday afternoon when the Royals host the Rangers for three games. Thursday is their final day off of the season, as KC finishes with the three home dates against the Rangers before a gruelling stretch including a three game series in Seattle and finishing up with four in Chicago. Yikes.

IF the Royals feel the need, they could move Shields up to Saturday and still get two more starts and potentially start him on three days rest on the final day of the season. Failing that, he’s set up nicely for any extra games the Royals play. Which is nice, but they need to get there first.

The Rangers also face a gruelling stretch of games to finish the season. Without a break since September 12th, the Rangers leave Tampa Bay tomorrow before visiting the Royals for three, then three at home with the Astros and four against the suddenly-hot Angels. Yu Darvish pitches tomorrow for Texas, meaning he’s scheduled to face the Astros next Tuesday and then LA again on the final Sunday of the year. It also means just two more Matt Garza starts, for better or worse.

No breaks for the Rays either, as they play every day from now until the end of the month. Two more at home against Texas, four at the Trop against Baltimore and then on to Yankee Stadium and Toronto to wrap 2013. The O’s and Yankees are behind Tampa in the standings but not enough to keep these two series from retaining a great deal of interest.

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