With Labor Day in the rearview mirror, MLB teams now have a sprint to the finish. With less than a month to the end of the regular season, the playoff picture is coming into focus, and individual milestones and records are in a position to be reached. Here’s the MLB News and Notes for Tuesday.
Judge Closing in on History
New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has started September on another tear as he chases down home run records. Judge homered on Monday, his third game in a row with a long ball, and he now has 54 on the season. Judge leads the American League in WAR and home runs as the front-runner to win the American League MVP Award.
The Yankees have struggled in the second half, and Giancarlo Stanton left injured again on Monday. The success of the team down the stretch may ride solely on Judge’s broad shoulders. His home run on Monday went 404 feet and came off the bat at nearly 110 mph.
The records are now about to start falling for Judge. The Monday homer tied him with Alex Rodriguez for the most in a season by a right-handed hitter in Yankees history. Next up is 58, the single-season record for a right-handed hitter in the American League, held by Hank Greenberg and Jimmie Foxx.
The American League record for single-season home runs, 61, has been held by Roger Maris for 61 years. Judge is on pace for 65 thanks to his recent flurry, which followed a nine-game homerless stretch in August. As of Monday night, Judge is +170 to go over 61.5 home runs on the season and -210 to finish under 61.5 home runs.
Blue Jays Heating Up
Bo Bichette had a special night for the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday with a hat-trick of home runs in game two of a doubleheader sweep of Baltimore. Toronto won the opener 7-3 at Camden Yards before Bichette delivered his first career three-homer game in the 8-4 nightcap win.
The sweep gives the Blue Jays a 4½ game lead over Baltimore for the final Wild Card spot. They are also just a half-game behind Tampa Bay and Seattle for the top Wild Card spot and only 5½ games behind the Yankees in the AL East. The Blue Jays have five more games to play against Baltimore, nine games left against Tampa Bay, and three to finish the season at home against the Yankees.
Bichette is the second Blue Jays player with a three-homer game this season, as Vlad Guerrero Jr. accomplished the feat in April. They are the first teammates under the age of 25 to both have three-homer games in the same season since 1977. The last time the feat was accomplished in the American League was in 1927 by Lou Gehrig and Tony Lazzeri
The Blue Jays are now -2500 to make the playoffs and +1000 to win the AL East. They are +550 to win the American League, trailing just the Astros and Yankees. Toronto is +1300 to win the World Series.
Astros Add Weapon
Not that they needed to get stronger, but the Houston Astros did just that on Labor Day, with top prospect Hunter Brown making an impressive MLB debut. The right-handed pitcher threw six shutout innings as Houston beat the Texas Rangers 1-0. Brown struck out five, allowed just three hits, and walked one.
A 24-year-old who was drafted in the fifth round in 2019, Brown was 17-11 with a 3.40 ERA in his Minor League career. That included a 9-4 record and a 2.55 ERA this season with Houston’s Triple-A Sugar Land Skeeters. Brown’s first pitch on Monday was a 97.4 mph fastball, and he averaged 96.1 for the game while also featuring the second-hardest slider in the Majors this season at 95.7 mph.
Brown is replacing Justin Verlander in the Astros rotation as the ace deals with an injury. The Astros lead the AL in wins (87), ERA (2.96), saves (43), and strikeouts (1225). Verlander and Framber Valdez both rank in the top 10 in the Majors in ERA and wins, while Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy also have double-digit wins and sub-4.00 ERA.
Houston has a six-game lead on the Yankees for the best record in the American League. With the best pitching in the American League, the Astros are +175 to win the pennant, the best odds in the AL. They are +400 to win the World Series, trailing only the LA Dodgers at +360.
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Barry Devoe can regularly be found rocking the sticks on League of Legends, Rocket League, and CS:GO, but he loves his traditional sports as well. Barry is a Chicago sports fan through and through, but his knowledge of the game is second-to-none. When he's not watching or playing, he works as a baseball umpire and football referee.