It’s late on a Thursday night, must mean it’s time for another edition of Weekend Watch! I just got home from Rays/Yankees in the boogie down where CC Sabathia despite the lack of defensive excellence from Eduardo Nunez was sparkling giving up no earned runs over 8 innings with 10 strikeouts. The Yankees won 5-2 for Sabathia’s first win in a head-to-head match-up with David Price. Former Rays closer Rafael Soriano picked up the save for New York, clouding the post-Rivera era closer situation in the Bronx. I still think David Robertson gets the next chance, but don’t expect him to get ALL the saves.
Here’s what I’m looking forward to in this weekend’s series.
5) Tigers at Athletics
This is the only series this week involving an AL Central team and both teams at .500 or better. This is the first time Brandon Inge will face the only MLB team he had known before getting cut and picked up by the A’s a couple of weeks ago. There are also a couple nice pitching matchups with Doug Fister against Brandon McCarthy on Saturday while ace Justin Verlander battles future ace Jarrod Parker on Sunday. Fister has a career 2.55 ERA against the A’s many of those starts coming while with the Seattle Mariners. Weird but true stat: Justin Verlander is only 5-5 in his career against Oakland, the .500 winning percentage is tied for the worst (Toronto and Los Angeles Angels the others) in Verlander’s career.
4) Angels at Rangers
The Rangers come home after taking 3 of 4 from the previously “best record in baseball” Baltimore Orioles. A sweep here would be an early season dagger to the Angels and put them 10 games out in mid-May. The HUGE match-up to watch is Friday night between the pitcher the Rangers let go for big money (C.J. Wilson) and the pitcher the Rangers signed for big money (Yu Darvish). Expect Wilson to not be given a hero’s welcome in Arlington. Not weird but true stat: Ian Kinsler has hit more home runs in his career against the Angels (13) than any other teams, except the Mariners and Red Sox, who have also given up that many.
3) Nationals at Reds
This series could’ve been higher if Stephen Strasburg was going this weekend, but he was too busy shutting down the Pirates Thursday night to the tune of 13 strikeouts in six innings. That doesn’t mean you won’t see quality pitching from the Nats as they’ll throw three pitchers with sub 3.50 ERA’s in Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Edwin Jackson. Aroldis Chapman has been the best middle reliever in baseball this year, not giving up a run in 15.2 inning with an eye-popping 27 strikeouts. Weird but true stat: Jay Bruce is hitting .184 against the Nationals in 103 AB, the worst batting average against any team he’s faced more than 13 times.
2) Rays at Orioles
The battle for 1st place in the AL East! That’s not between teams NOT the Red Sox and Yankees! The managerial battle between two of my favorites in Buck Showalter and Joe Maddon will be fantastic. As will the Sunday afternoon duel between James Shields and Jake Arrieta. I’m really interested Saturday’s game between Matt Moore and Brian Matusz. Can either of these young guns get it together? Matusz showed some glimpses against the Blue Jays and Yankees giving up just 1 ER over 12.1 IP, but then got bombed by the Rangers. Moore dishearteningly (not even sure that’s a word, but let’s go with it) got rocked in his last start against the Athletics, not exactly the team a player with Moore’s pedigree should be getting pounded by. Weird but true stat: Rays James Shields is 8-5 in his career against Baltimore, but 5-1 when facing them at Camden Yards.
1) Braves at Cardinals
The series of revenge that Braves fans have been waiting for since the collapse of 2011. As I said on the podcast, this series is all about the offense, pitching match-ups be damned. These two teams go 1-2 in the National League in runs, hits, RBIs, batting average. Plus they are 1-3 in slugging and OPS, the Rockies sneak in at #2 in those categories. I’ll give credit where credit is due, the Cardinals are the 1 in all of those categories. It’s hard to miss Albert Pujols when Carlos Beltran, David Freese, and Rafael Furcal are off to white-hot starts, while Allen Craig already has three home runs in seven games since returning from the DL. Beltran, in my opinion, has been the best signing of the offseason so far. Weird but true stat: the Braves are 4-2 this season when the allow 8+ runs. That makes no sense.
Mapes Fantasy Specials:
Decided to give a longer heads-up and post my Mapes Fantasy Specials here for the weekend and not just on Twitter. I’m 8-3 on these on the year, doesn’t necessarily mean the pitcher won, but that the cumulative start helped your fantasy team in standard 5×5. As always they must be available in 50% of leagues.
Friday 5/12: Mark Buerhle vs. Mets (46% owned) Gave up 2ER over 7IP last start against the Mets and like him at home in Marlins Park, also kinda like James McDonald vs. Astros (19% owned) and Kyle Drabek at Twins (26% owned).
Saturday 5/13: R.A. Dickey at Marlins (30% owned) Why doesn’t Dickey get more love? He’s a quality start machine and shut down the Marlins last time he faced them on 4/25 with 1ER in 7IP adding in 7K. Did I mention I like Marlins Park for pitchers?
Sunday 5/14: Carlos Zambrano vs. Mets (37% owned) I really tried to not pick three starts all in Marlins Park I swear. I wanted to take Andy Pettitte’s return to Yankee Stadium against the Mariners (13% owned), but just couldn’t do it. Zambrano has been lights out with 16 scoreless innings over his past two starts with 14K. In fact, I just dropped early-season wonder Joe Saunders for Zambrano and they both start Sunday.
What are you looking forward to watching this weekend?