With just a few weeks remaining before the new NFL season kicks off, we’re heading to Heinz Field for Ben Roethlisberger’s first preseason action as the Steelers take on the Lions.
And as the MLB regular season enters the home stretch, we’ll also break down Phillies vs. Padres and Twins vs. Yankees, featuring squads that are battling for wild-card spots.
Detroit Lions vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Saturday, August 21 | TV: NBC / CBS
Big Ben is back for his first NFL preseason tune-up. All eyes will be on Roethlisberger as he puts his surgically repaired right elbow to the test against a Lions team that comes in as the heavy underdog. Look for the Steelers to rest star wide receiver Chase Claypool, however, who sustained a minor ankle sprain at Tuesday’s practice. Even without Claypool, the Steelers will have the overall edge on both sides of the field. Lions coach Dan Campbell will likely hold several players, including starting quarterback Jared Goff, running back D’Andre Swift, and tight end T.J. Hockenson, out of this matchup.
The Steelers, who are 2-0 so far this preseason, have high expectations to be among the league’s best, and their defense performed at a high level against the Eagles and Cowboys. The Lions won their preseason opener over the Bills, 16-15, but might have a tough time keeping up due to the lack of overall starting talent on display. With Claypool out, the Steelers will heavily feature wideout James Washington, who is trying to carve out a larger role in the offense.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Diego Padres
Friday, August 20 | TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia / MLB.TV
The Phillies and Padres are battling for wild card spots, but the Phillies need to play some catchup being 5 games out of contention this late into the season. Both teams are 3-7 over their last 10 games and are trying to stop multiple-game losing streaks. The projected starters leave something to be desired, though, as Matt Moore (2-3, 6.07 ERA, 1.46 WHIP) takes the mound for Philadelphia, while Blake Snell (6-4, 4.80 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) toes the rubber for San Diego. Snell has recently pitched better than his record indicates, with a 1.59 ERA and 25 strikeouts in the month of August.
The Padres are 40-24 at home this season and won their last game with the Phillies by a whopping score of 11-1. They should once again prove to be the better squad on offense, especially since first baseman Rhys Hoskins won’t be in the lineup for Philly. The slugger continues to deal with a groin injury and will probably miss the weekend series.
Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees
Friday, August 20 | TV: YES Network / MLB.TV
The Yankees’ trade deadline moves have paid big dividends as they close the gap in the AL East division and remain in the driver’s seat in the wild-card standings. They are 8-2 over their last 10 games and hold a seven-game winning streak, including a 7-5 victory Thursday night where the Yanks’ offense simply overpowered the Twins. It’s not looking good for Minnesota with Charlie Barnes (0-2, 4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) scheduled to start. Barnes hasn’t lasted more than 5 innings in any of his four starts this season.
On the mound for the Yankees will be Nestor Cortes Jr. (1-1, 2.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP). Despite a small sample size, the young lefty has been pretty solid after converting from his long-relief role. Still, neither starter will pitch deep into this showdown, leaving it up to the bullpen to pull it together, which could mean more offensive fireworks at Yankee Stadium.