Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

MLB News

Classic rematch, Archer highlight weekend slate

Yanks-Sox at Fenway in AL East battle; playoff implications in Crew-Rox
August 3, 2018

Nearly three days after the non-waiver Trade Deadline, a lot of us are still trying to sort through who goes where. There were 15 trades on Deadline day and 22 total in the final two days leading up to Tuesday's buzzer. So there are sure to be moments when you're

Nearly three days after the non-waiver Trade Deadline, a lot of us are still trying to sort through who goes where. There were 15 trades on Deadline day and 22 total in the final two days leading up to Tuesday's buzzer. So there are sure to be moments when you're watching ball in the coming days and saying, "Wait, that guy plays for them now?!"
This weekend brings us not only some anticipated, trade-related debuts, but also the renewal of a great rivalry and the rematch of a wonderful World Series. Here are five topics to track:
1.An Arch in the City of Bridges: If, in advance of the Trade Deadline, you had to guess which club Chris Archer would be more likely to be pitching for at PNC Park tonight -- the Cardinals or the Pirates -- St. Louis would have been the much safer bet. The Cardinals have long liked Archer and they tried to deal for him last winter. Heck, his name has "Arch" in it. Perfect fit!

But the Buccos surprisingly energized their fan base and rewarded their clubhouse by acquiring Archer from the Rays on Tuesday. The Pirates have won 16 of their last 21 to sneak into postseason contention, and if they can untap the pure potential of Archer (who has a ho-hum 4.31 ERA in 17 starts on the season, but a 2.70 mark in his last eight starts), their young rotation will get a big boost in the home stretch.
PNC Park will be buzzing when Archer takes the mound at 7:05 p.m. ET for his Bucco debut. Archer's already said and done the right things to appeal to Pittsburghers -- wearing an Antonio Brown jersey on social media, adopting Wiz Khalifa's "Black and Yellow" as his walk-up song and even turning down his usual jersey No. 22 in deference to Andrew McCutchen (Archer will wear No. 24 instead). If he eats pierogies before his start or drops a "yinz" in an interview, you'll know he's really settled in to the Steel City.
2. Games 8-10: Last fall, the Astros and Dodgers played two of the most compelling World Series games in memory -- Games 2 and 5 -- in a Fall Classic that went the distance. Game 7, frankly, had less drama than any of the six games that preceded it, but try telling that to the Houstonians who got to celebrate their franchise's first title.
Obviously, the stakes are nowhere near as high as the two clubs reconvene at Game 7 site Dodger Stadium this weekend, beginning with tonight's 10:10 p.m. tilt in which Alex Wood opposes Justin Verlander. But both of these juggernaut squads have had more of a challenge than expected -- the Astros pushed by the surprising Mariners and A's in the American League West, and the Dodgers currently in a dogfight with the D-backs and Rockies in the National League West. And hey, for all we know, this weekend set could be less a rehash of what we saw last October and more a preview of what we could see this October.
The Dodgers just got Justin Turner back in their lineup, and they added James Dozier this week (after adding some guy named Manny Machado earlier in the month). The Astros are currently trying to make do up the middle without Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, but they've lengthened their bullpen with the addition of Thomas Pressly.
The biggest source of intrigue this weekend might come from the expected Sunday arrival of recently acquired reliever Roberto Osuna, who is finishing up his 75-game suspension for violating MLB's domestic violence policy and is expected to address the club upon arrival.
3. East of burden: The Rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees is as strong as ever, with both clubs on pace to finish with north of 100 wins. But the AL East race is winnowing right now.
Following Boston's big 15-7 victory in the opener of a four-game set on Thursday night, the Red Sox have a 6-1/2 game lead. There are still nine games remaining between these two clubs, including the final weekend of the regular season, but Boston has so far put itself in good position to avoid the coin flip that is the one-game Wild Card round.
In other words, the Aaron Judge-less Yankees need to get it going. When these two clubs last met on June 29-July 1, the Yankees took two of three to pull even in the East. But Boston has gone a remarkable 20-5 since then with no signs of letting up, even with staff ace Chris Sale currently on the shelf.
The series continues tonight at 7:10 p.m., with Rick Porcello opposing Luis Severino. With J.A. Happ unavailable to make Saturday's start opposite fellow in-season trade acquisition Nathan Eovaldi, the Yanks need a starter for Saturday's 7:05 p.m. game. And the weekend wraps on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball at 8:05 p.m., with Masahiro Tanaka trying to extend his run of 17 1/3 scoreless innings and David Price trying to end a trend in which he's posted an 8.43 ERA in nine starts against the Yankees as a member of the Red Sox.
4. Applying a Gaus: The Braves did a particularly good job at the Deadline of addressing current needs with guys who are controllable beyond 2018 without gutting their replete farm system. And their most intriguing pickup might be the 27-year-old right-hander Kevin Gausman, who is under their contractual control through 2020.
Gausman, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 Draft, never quite put it all together in Baltimore, where he's logged a 4.58 ERA over the last two seasons. But he gets a defensive upgrade and a change of scenery with the move to the Braves, for whom he'll make his debut at 7:10 p.m. Saturday at Citi Field, opposite Zack Wheeler. Maybe Gausman settles into the back of their starting five, or maybe the Braves unlock the upside that led to him being such a high-profile Draft pick.
With the Braves and Phillies neck and neck in the NL East race -- and the Nationals intent on joining the race before long -- Gausman will be an interesting X-factor in Atlanta.

5. Let's get Wild: The Rockies claimed the NL's second Wild Card spot last year, with the Brewers just a game behind. Both clubs have elevated their expectations here in 2018, and both are very much capable of winning a division title.
But this weekend presents us with a matchup between these two clubs that, at the very least, has NL Wild Card implications, what with so many clubs bunched together in the Senior Circuit pecking order.

The Rockies believed enough in their recent strides, which have included a young rotation finding its form and Carlos Gonzalez beginning to sizzle at the plate, to leave the big league roster largely untouched at the Trade Deadline, bringing in only Seunghwan Oh to help the bullpen. The Brewers searched for a starter, struck out there, and instead built up their already strong 'pen (Joakim Soria) and added a surplus of infield bats (Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop) to make their nightly lineups a source of intrigue.
They'll meet at Miller Park, with German Marquez and Junior Guerra opposing each other at 8:10 p.m. tonight.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.