It’s time for another edition of weekend watch! More interleague play is on the schedule. Want a bold prediction? Someone will throw a no-hitter this weekend, because it seems like anyone can at this point. Here’s what I’m excited to watch.
5) Red Sox at Cubs
I know it’s a match-up of last place teams, but I just love the history so much I can’t resist. I was at first Cubs/Red Sox game in Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series last season and it was just fun to see two storied franchises face each other at a historic ballpark. This time it’s the rematch but at Wrigley Field. The teams may be in last, but the baseball on the field should still be fun. Fun stat: Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .320 in his career against the Cubs, the best batting average against any team he has 150+ at-bats against.
4) Pirates at Indians
Two teams that are in contention in their Central division. The Indians just got swept against Cincinnati in the Battle of Ohio and now take on the other team in their region. Cleveland and Pittsburgh are separated by just two hours and 15 minutes, so expect a few Pirates fans to make the trip up north. It will be interesting to see if the Indians can stay above .500 as they are 22nd in the league in OPS as a team and 27th in ERA. Bad hitting and bad hitting usually don’t lead to success. The Pirates, on the other hand, are the worst hitting team in the Majors, but are 4th in team ERA. Weird, but true stat: If you take out A.J. Burnett’s abysmal 2.2 IP, 12 ER performance against the Cardinals on May 2nd, he has a 1.96 ERA in 59.2 IP this season.
3) Orioles at Braves
The Braves are the ultimate Jeckyll and Hyde team so far in 2012. This is incredibly enjoyable or incredibly frustrating as a Braves fan. These are the stretches the Braves have had since the start of the season; 0-4, 10-1, 5-6, 11-5, 0-8, 8-1, and currently 0-4 after getting swept by the Yankees. The Orioles aren’t going away it seems as they took two of three from the Phillies and appear on their way to sweeping the Pirates as I write this. Saturday night is the biggest match-up as Brandon Beachy returns from elbow soreness to start for Atlanta. Beachy still leads the NL in ERA, even though R.A. Dickey has made it his mission to take it over.
2) White Sox at Dodgers
One of two match-ups this weekend involving two first place teams. The White Sox have figured out what to do with Chris Sale and it’s working incredibly. My “Early MLB Awards” won’t be out until early-July, but Sale has taken over the pole position for me at this point as he has a 1.51 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 41.2 IP since returning to the rotation. The Dodgers still have best record in baseball even without Matt Kemp, but the Giants have gained some ground in the NL West. Weird, but true stat: The Dodgers have the best home record in MLB, while the White Sox have the best road record. Something is going to have to give.
1) Yankees at Nationals
The Yankees are the hottest team in baseball after sweeping the Mets and Braves. Can they pull the NL East sweep trifecta? I was really interested last week to see how the vaunted Nationals pitching staff would handle the Red Sox and they passed with flying colors. There is no Strasburg appearance in this series, but it should be a great test for Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, and Edwin Jackson. Those three players give the Nationals the edge in every pitching match-up this weekend. Weird, but true stat: Gio Gonzalez has a 7.27 ERA against the Yankees. The 2nd worst mark of any team he’s had five starts against. The team that hits Gonzalez the best? The Minnesota Twins.
Mapes Fantasy Special
Had my first bad start in two weekends with Gavin Floyd against the Astros, but bounced back with quality starts from Scott Diamond and Andy Pettitte. 2-1 for the weekend makes me 12-3 since bring over the Mapes Fantasy Special to “Weekend Watch”. These players are owned in less that 50% of Yahoo! leagues.
6/15 Anthony Bass (13%o owned) at Athletics, going back to the well with the 1st guest to the podcast in Bass. Athletics offense is a mess as they have the worst team batting average in the league.
6/16 A.J. Burnett (48% owned) at Indians, easy pick given what I said before in the match-ups.
6/17 Wei-Yin Chen (22% owned) at Braves, Chen has been impressive this season and if we’re getting the “Hyde” version of the Braves right now this would be a nice spot Sunday start.
What are you looking forward to in interleague play?