College football is nearing its kickoff with Texas A&M traveling to Columbia to square off against South Carolina. Both teams are ranked in the top 25 with A&M ranked 21st in the country and the Gamecocks ranked at number nine. Nothing like a top 25 game to start the season or, in fact, any week of the season. There’s a certain buzz in the air when teams are trying to make a statement against other elite teams.
With about 40 games left to play in the Major League Baseball season, the upcoming games should carry a sense of desperation and more significance. Wins begin to feel more triumphant, losses are more agonizing. Baseball may lack the intensity that football possesses, but looking at the schedule of upcoming games, it’s evident that there are some series’ that are more important than others. That’s why, we are going to use Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings (or FUBAR for short) to highlight the key matchups for this upcoming weekend with a bit of college football flair.
PADDING THE STATS
- 22 Baltimore Orioles vs 21 Chicago Cubs (August 22-24): Yes, the Cubs have nothing to play for, but the O’s have everything to lose. As one will notice, FUBAR does not like the Orioles despite their record. This creates an opportunity for Baltimore to do some damage against a perceived weak team. Caution should be taken as the Cubs have been known to snakebite teams with young sluggers Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez known to hit clutch home runs. Also, the Orioles have to get past former farmhand and highly-touted prospect, Jake Arrieta for the opening game of this series. The way Arrieta can rack up strikeouts and the O’s having shown very little plate discipline, it can get ugly very quickly for Baltimore.
- 23 Detroit Tigers vs 24 Minnesota Twins: The Tigers have a lot to show FUBAR that they can crawl before they show they can walk and beating a relatively easy team would be the perfect sacrificial lamb to forget about their problems, mostly their bad bullpen. Though the Tigers have the better-known players in their lineup, the Twins rate as a surprisingly well-balanced offense, best exemplified by Brian Dozier. It should be interesting to see how Minnesota fares against a really good starting rotation.
- 12 Seattle Mariners vs 17 Boston Red Sox: Just like the Cubs, Boston really has little to play for, but as mentioned in our most current FUBAR rankings, they still have a tough bullpen and superb defense. Seattle can go toe-to-toe with Boston in those categories as well, but their offense needs to take advantage of a crippling starting rotation in this series and let their pitching and defense play with a lead.
CHIP ON THE SHOULDER
- 15 San Francisco Giants vs 2 Washington Nationals: By mid-season, the Giants had finally reached our top five, but have mostly been on the outside of our top 10 throughout the year. The Giants’ offense has been terrible and they will be running into the buzzsaw known as the Nationals’ starting rotation: Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg are scheduled to make starts in this series. It’s put up or shut up time for San Francisco and what better way to prove they belong among the game’s elite than by beating the best rotation in baseball?
RUST BELT SHOWDOWN
- 16 Pittsburgh Pirates vs 13 Milwaukee Brewers: Once considered the top team in baseball, the Brew Crew has fought hard to not continue to fall too much in these rankings. Meanwhile, the Pirates have done what they could to survive without their best player, Andrew McCutchen, and surprisingly possess one of the more efficient hitting lineups in baseball. It would appear that the Pirates have an opportunity to put a chokehold on their division rivals, but perhaps the biggest X-factor in this series will be the Brewers’ highly rated bullpen. If Milwaukee keeps it close or have a late lead in these games, they increase their chances of showing the rest of their division that they are the Alpha dogs in the NL Central.
- 8 Los Angeles Angels vs 1 Oakland Athletics: And now for the main event of the weekend! The Orange County Halos travel north for the ultimate baseball showdown against California’s A-game. In one corner, the Angels boast what could be the consensus, best player in the MLB universe in Mike Trout. The sabermetrics also show the SoCal team to have a better pitching rotation. However, the A’s have boasted one of the best offenses, bullpens, and defenses in all of baseball for most of the year. Nevertheless, the Angels appear to have Oakland right where they want them as the A’s have been slipping a bit lately, especially at starting rotation, despite efforts to improve that aspect of their team. In the end though, Oakland will depend on Sonny Gray, Jon Lester, and Scott Kazmir, with Jered Weaver being the only pitcher worth worrying about in this series. The Athletics have been known to embarrass the top competition at home. This weekend should be no different as a sweep of the Angels is very possible.
Who is ready for some baseball? A weekend-long party!