For Gerrit Cole , 2017 was the basically the weakest of his first five MLB seasons. This year, his first in an Astros uniform after a trade back in January sent him from Pittsburgh to Houston, could be argued as the best of his career thus far. Suffice it to say, it has been quite a turnaround for the two-time All-Star.

On Friday night, Cole finished off his outstanding regular season for the A.L. West champions by limiting the Orioles to only one run on five hits and a walk while striking out four across six innings. Along with Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel , Cole became the third Astros hurler to reach 200 or more innings (200.1) for the season, and did it while turning in a 2.88 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and a whopping 276 punchouts; 74 more than his previous career best.


In Case You Missed It

Yankee Stadium will host the A.L. Wild Card Game, as the Yankees officially clinched home-field advantage for it with an 11-6 win against the archrival Red Sox in Boston on Friday night. Perhaps even more importantly for the Pinstripers, the vaunted power stroke of slugger Aaron Judge finally showed back up, as he went 2-for-4 with a solo shot, a walk, and three runs scored. Judge had not homered in any of the previous 10 games since returning to the starting lineup back on September 18 following a near eight-week DL stint.

A 5-2 win over the Nationals on Friday was the eighth in a row and clinched a second consecutive playoff berth for the Rockies. The N.L.-West leaders drove four baseballs over the wall at Coors Field, and, for the fifth straight day, one of those came off the bat of David Dahl . During his five-game explosion, the powerful young outfielder has gone 9-for-22 with five homers, a triple, and 12 RBI while being a catalyst for his club's final-week surge into the postseason.


Saturday on the Hill

The name Blake Snell should already be inscribed on the 2018 A.L. Cy Young Award. Arguably the breakout player of the year regardless of position, Snell will be gunning for win number 22 of the campaign when he takes the mound in Tampa Bay against the Blue Jays on Saturday evening. The 25-year-old southpaw has been ridiculously dominant over his last 10 outings dating back to the beginning of August. In that span, he has not surrendered more than two earned runs in any start, pitching to a laughable 1.11 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and 12.2 K/9 across 56.2 innings. Snell will be opposed by fellow lefty Ryan Borucki in his final appearance of the season.

Speaking of breakouts, one could argue that Aaron Nola enjoyed one in 2017, but he has certainly stepped up into a different echelon this year. The Philadelphia righty will carry 16 victories and a stellar 2.45 ERA into Saturday’s matchup with the Braves, and if it were not for a certain Mets ace, Nola might be the frontrunner for some Cy Young hardware himself. He fired six frames of two-run ball that included six strikeouts in Atlanta last Sunday and will look to finish 2018 strong against the N.L. East champs this weekend. Veteran Anibal Sánchez is expected to be Nola’s counterpart on the mound.



Whit Merrifield - 18 games - 24-for-77, .853 OPS, 1 HR, 6 2B, 11 SB

Yuli Gurriel - 12 games - 21-for-49, 1.124 OPS, 3 HR, 15 RBI

Christian Yelich - 9 games - 16-of-34, 1.697 OPS, 4 HR, 5 2B, 17 RBI

Eduardo Escobar - 9 games - 11-for-33, .856 OPS, 1 HR, 2 2B

Brock Holt - 9 games - 11-for-27, 1.188 OPS, 2 HR, 2 2B