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AL Playoff Race: Upcoming Matchups For The Week Ahead

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Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

With the Blue Jays in a fight for a shot at the playoffs, scoreboard-watching season is officially upon us. To help keep track of all the action, here is a preview of the week ahead:

Current Standings: Last Updated August 8, 4 PM ET

AL East GB
New York -
Toronto 2.5
Baltimore 5.5

Wild Card GB
Los Angeles -
Toronto -
Baltimore 3
Minnesota 3.5

Matchups

Toronto
Mo Price W (5-1) Santana
Tu Estrada W (3-1) Hughes
We Hutchison W (9-7) Duffey
Th Buehrle W (9-3) Gibson
Fr Dickey W (2-1) Eovaldi
Sa Price W (6-0) Nova
Su Estrada @NYY Tanaka

With an extremely important week ahead, it sure is nice to be able to pencil in David Price for two starts. Toronto will first welcomes the Twins into town for a four-game series, and can pass them in the standings by taking three of four. Ervin Santana, who starts game one, has struggled through his first five starts of the season. He carries a 5.07 FIP and 4.38 xFIP, and has given up his fair share of home runs throughout his career. 

Phil Hughes will start game two for the Twins, which figures to be a battle of fly ball pitchers. Hughes is very effective at limiting walks, but much like Marco Estrada, can be prone to giving up home runs. He has a 4.59 FIP in 21 starts this season.

Game three will see 24-year-old Tyler Duffey making his major league debut as a starter. After giving up 17 home runs in 2014, the right-hander has only allowed a single home run in over 130 innings this season between double-A Chattanooga and triple-A Rochester. He has terrific minor league numbers for the year, but facing Toronto's lineup should be quite the new experience for him.

Ground ball specialist Kyle Gibson will start the series finale up against Mark Buehrle. Gibson owns a 4.03 FIP for the season, and is much more effective against right-handed hitters. Justin Smoak, Dioner Navarro, and maybe even Dalton Pompey should play in this one.

Though the matchups are not official, it appears the Yankees will start a trio of Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova, and Masahiro Tanaka when the Blue Jays head to the Big Apple. Eovaldi boasts a 3.53 FIP this year and does not give up many home runs. Ivan Nova has a 4.67 FIP through six starts, and should be in tough against Price. Masahiro Tanaka has a very strong K/BB ratio, but a ton of home runs against him have led to a 4.01 FIP. 

Since the beginning of June, four of the five Blue Jays starters have an ERA under 3.35. If the offence continues to provide excellent run support, it could be an encouraging week for the Jays.

New York
Mo - OFF -
Tu Tanaka W (13-3) Owens
We Severino L (1-2) Wright
Th Sabathia W (2-1) Miley/Rodriguez
Fr Eovaldi L (1-2) Dickey
Sa Nova L (0-6) Price
Su Tanaka TOR Estrada

Before facing Toronto, the Yankees play three games against the Boston Red Sox. This seems like a very winnable series for the Yankees, but let's hope a trio of rather inexperienced starters can stop the Yankees offence. Luis Severino, who has dominated the minors this season, will make his major league debut in game two. I am happy the Blue Jays miss him.

Baltimore
Mo Wilson W (9-2) Chavez
Tu Gonzalez L (0-5) Bassitt
We Chen W (7-3) Graveman
Th - OFF -
Fr Gausman L (4-8) Heaney
Sa Jimenez @LAA Richards
Su Tillman @LAA TBD

After Daniel Norris beat the Orioles on Friday, two more ex-Blue Jays will face the Orioles in its next three games. The Orioles will miss Sonny Gray, but they will have to face both Andrew Heaney and Garret Richards against Los Angeles. Let's hope Oakland can help the Jays out like they did by trading Josh Donaldson.

Los Angeles
Mo Richards W (5-4) Kluber
Tu Shoemaker L (0-2) Carrasco
We Santiago W (4-3) Salazar
Th - OFF -
Fr Heaney W (8-4) Gausman
Sa Richards BALT Jimenez
Su TBD BALT Tillman

The Angels will be in tough against a terrific trio of Cleveland's pitchers. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar are all having terrific years. I have no idea who to cheer for in the second series.

Minnesota
Mo Santana L (1-5) Price
Tu Hughes L (1-3) Estrada
We Duffey L (7-9) Hutchison
Th Gibson L (3-9) Buehrle
Fr Pelfrey W (10-9) Anderson
Sa Santana @CLE Bauer
Su Hughes @CLE Kluber

I have no idea how Minnesota currently occupies a playoff spot. They should be in tough against Toronto this week, as the Jays currently have the best run differential in the American League. As if facing Price was not enough, the Twins will have to face the reigning AL Cy Young award winner in its next series. With a strong week, Kluber could make a lot of friends in Toronto.

Current Outlook

The Blue Jays are coming off a huge series win against the Royals. Kansas City had previously not lost a series in over a month, yet the Blue Jays managed to take three of four games. What makes this even more impressive is the fact that David Price was held out of the series, while the Jays managed to beat Johnny Cueto in game two.

With Price set to start two of the seven games this week, Toronto seems to have the potential for a big week. With crucial games against teams ahead in the standings, two series wins would be a huge step in the right direction for the Blue Jays.

Current Week Standings
Team W L
Toronto 6 0
New York 2 3
Baltimore 2 2
Los Angeles 3 1
Minnesota 1 4