Weekend Watch!

Thank God it’s Friday!  Time for a new set of matchups this weekend.  Here are the series I’m looking forward to watching this weekend in descending order.

5) Athletics at Orioles

I didn’t have both of these teams at .500 or better on April 26th before the season and neither did you.  These have been two pleasant surprises and deserve some love.  I really wish that Yoenis Cespedes was left-handed to see if he could make a run at hitting the warehouse beyond the right field wall.  The pitching matchups are pretty decent, especially the opener with Brandon McCarthy and Jake Arrieta, Arrieta is my #MapesFantasySpecial for 4/27.  *cough follow me on Twitter @Mapes4FanCave cough* While Bartolo Colon was very good against Baltimore in 2011 with the Yankees having a paltry 1.52 ERA and sub 1.00 WHIP in 23.2 innings.

4) Brewers at Cardinals

Brewers are still looking to get back to .500 and are tossing their two aces, Gallardo and Greinke, on Saturday and Sunday.  The Cardinals have had the best offense in the National League so far.  They lead the NL in batting average, OPS, and OBP, while being 2nd in runs scored behind Atlanta.  St. Louis has also had the best signing in the senior circuit in 2012 so far in Carlos Beltran who’s filled the Albert Pujols void admirably with 5 home runs and pitching in 5 stolen bases on top of it.

Those two matchups are just the appetizers this weekend.  Here’s what MLB is serving up in the main course.  I can’t even rank these matchup 3-2-1, we’re going with 1 A, B, and C.

1C) Nationals at Dodgers

Two teams that were picked by many to most people to finish 4th in their respective divisions.  Instead, both are sitting pretty in 1st place as we speak.  I said in the offseason that the Nats had put together the most underrated rotation in the Majors.  The results so far?  The Nationals pitching staff has the best ERA in the league.  Ross Detwiler has been a great addition in place of John Lannan.  Stephen Strasburg is being Stephen Strasburg.  Gio Gonzalez is proving that he wasn’t just a product of Oakland’s ballpark as he has 20 straight scoreless innings.  The Dodgers?  Well they have Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw, that’s generally been enough so far.  Dee Gordon is among the league leader in stolen bases, but needs to start getting on base more for the Dodgers lineup to truly start clicking.  I just don’t think it will happen this weekend.

1B) Rays at Rangers

Both teams are riding momentum waves.  Rays picked up a walk-off win Thursday courtesy of Brandon Allen, while the Rangers took two of three from the Yankees.  In a rematch of last years 2011 Division Series the Rays seemingly have the pitching matchup advantage in sending James Shields (Friday) and David Price (Sunday) to the hill, while missing out on Yu Darvish.  Darvish was sparkling in his last start against New York and seems to have put his control issues behind him.  The pitching advantage might be nullified however by Texas’ fantastic offense.  Led by Josh Hamilton’s .390 AVG and 8 homers, the Rangers currently lead the Majors batting average, OPS, runs scored, and home runs.  This is a classic case of great pitching vs. great hitting.

1A) Tigers at Yankees

It’s a rematch of the other 2011 ALDS!  Both teams are reeling after the Yankees lost the series in Texas, while the Tigers got swept at home by the Seattle Mariners.  You read the 2nd half of that right.  Further proof that you can’t predict baseball, so I’m going to try anyway!  Can Justin Verlander and the Tigers end Ivan Nova’s run of franchise record of 15 straight winning decisions on Friday? (I think so.)  Will there be 20 runs in the Saturday matchup of Drew Smyly and Freddy Garcia? (Maybe.  Yankees do have problems facing a pitcher for the 1st time, see Yu Darvish.)  Can Derek Jeter keep his batting average over .400?  (Currently .420, I’ll say yes.)  Will Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder enjoy the confines of Yankee Stadium vs. spacious Comerica Park?  (Yes, I think they both homer, maybe even multiple times this weekend.)  Should be a great series in the Bronx.

What matchup are you excited to see this weekend?  Do you think Matt Kemp, Josh Hamilton, and Derek Jeter keep up their torrid pace to start?

-Bryan Mapes

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