As we alluded to on the podcast this week, it’s the start of interleague play this weekend! Always fun to see teams you haven’t seen face each other in a while mix it up on the playing field. I’m excited for next month when the Braves visit the new Yankee Stadium for the first time and not just for the garlic fries. Here’s what I’m looking forward to this weekend in interleague play and the one National League match-up.
5) Mets at Blue Jays
This gets the narrow edge over the other random series with a New York team in the Yankees and Reds. Why? Because the Yankees get enough publicity already and they’re in 4th place. No really, they’re in 4th place in the AL East as I type this. One of the teams ahead of them in the standings? The Toronto Blue Jays. Edwin Encarnacion has carried the offense so far with a team leading 13 home runs, 10 of them coming at the Rogers Centre where this series is being played. Jose Bautista has finally found his groove with 5 home runs in his past 7 games, half of his total for the entire season. Those two will have to stay hot to make up for the absence of Brett Lawrie sitting out his 4-game suspension for throwing a batting helmet that bounced into an umpire. Plus, putting this series in my top 5, gives me an excuse to post this picture of David Wright in a Goldberg jersey from the movie “The Mighty Ducks”. That’s a tremendous job by him there. Honorable mention to Jason Bay going with an old school Hartford Whalers jersey.
4) Marlins at Indians
Speaking of truly random match-ups it’s the Marlins battling the Indians! Miami has won 12 of their last 16 games, but continues its battle with teams derived from Native American names after just playing the Braves. The risk taken on Carlos Zambrano has paid off so far to the tune of a 1.88 ERA, but has been saddled with just a 1-2 record. An even better acquisition resides in the Indians dugout. Derek Lowe has put himself in line for a trip to the All-Star game starting off with a 6-1 record and a 2.05 ERA. Lowe will start Sunday against Marlins “ace” Josh Johnson. Johnson has been off to a slow start, but his underlying numbers show that he’s primed for a bounce back as long as he can stay healthy. Mapes favorite Giancarlo Stanton has picked things up in May hitting .328 with 7 bombs after hitting .247 with just one home run in April.
3) Cardinals at Dodgers
If Carlos Beltran was 100% and Matt Kemp wasn’t on the DL I might have put this at #1. Instead, it slips to the #3 spot, but will still be a highly entertaining series between the leaders of the NL Central and West. The starting pitchers in the three games are a combined 25-8 this season. Friday’s match-up of Lance Lynn and Ted Lilly are currently a combined 11-1 with an ERA under 2.00. Reigning Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw will create the battle of good pitching vs good hitting against the Cardinals best offense in the NL. Why is Allen Craig still owned in just 71% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues? He’s only hitting .373 with five home runs since returning off the DL and is 2B eligible. Go get him! (Friday Update: Craig is now on DL, don’t pick him up, wait til he comes back)
1B) Braves at Rays
I’ll try not to show Braves bias and have them as the co-series to watch this weekend. Both teams have matching 24-15 records coming in and both have not just playoff, but World Series aspirations. Friday and Sunday’s pitching matchups are spectacular with Tommy Hanson taking on James Shields while the series capper has Tim Hudson battling David Price. Two fun stats for these teams: the Rays are once again leading the AL in defensive shifts and will shatter the total that they used in 2011, while the Braves lead the NL in RBI with a runner on 3rd and less than two outs after being last in the league in that category last season.
1A) Orioles at Nationals
It’s the Beltway Series and it means something! This is the first time that the Orioles and Nats are playing each other with both teams being over .500. Even more impressive is both teams are surprisingly batting for 1st place right now. Baltimore has a game lead on Tampa Bay, while Washington trails Atlanta by a half-game in their respective divisions. I expect a quite a few Orioles fans to make their way over to the nation’s capital to get their first peek at Bryce Harper, especially with Stephen Strasburg pitching on Saturday. Something will have to give as the Orioles are an impressive 13-5 on the road, while the Nats are 14-6 at home the year.
Mapes Fantasy Special
Went 3-0 last week as I targeted the Mets/Marlins series quite well. Carlos Zambrano, R.A. Dickey and Mark Buerhle all gave starts that helped your fantasy team and made me 11-3 on the year. Let’s see what we have for this weekend, remember they must be less that 50% owned in Yahoo! leagues.
5/18: Jarrod Parker (24% owned) at Giants, Parker has been great this season since getting called up. AT&T Park is a great place to pitch in and he’s against Barry Zito who doesn’t have great career numbers against Oakland.
5/19: John Danks (30% owned) at Cubs, I know Danks numbers this season have been horrible, but he pitches great in his career against his cross-town rivals. I’ll take the chances that the AL pitcher against an NL team will work out. Hopefully the wind is blowing in at Wrigley.
5/20: Henderson Alvarez (20% owned), Alvarez won’t strike anyone out, but if you’re looking for some ERA or WHIP help on Sunday you can’t do worse than Alvarez at home against the Mets. If Ervin Santana (65% owned) if available at San Diego, scoop him up first!
What are you looking forward to this weekend?
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)