Six of our 10 teams in the AL and NL West play each other this weekend, so there are seven series to rank based on their level of intrigue. As the season progresses and stats stop looking like gibberish, and as experience teaches me, I will add more and more details to each listing.
7. Philadelphia Phillies (7-8) at Colorado Rockies (8-9)
Fri – Jonathan Pettibone (0-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Tyler Chatwood (0-0, 6.00)
Sat – Kyle Kendrick (0-1, 3.50) vs. Jordan Lyles (2-0, 4.32)
Sun – Roberto Hernandez (1-0, 3.86) vs. Juan Nicasio (2-0, 3.50)
These pitching matchups leave a lot to be desired. Watch for the scoring; if you’re with company and they’re not that into baseball, turn one of these games on and suggest that everyone drink whenever a batter reaches base. Don’t plan to go out afterwards.
Colorado needs to win these kinds of series–at home, against another middle-of-the-pack team–in order to challenge for the playoffs. They cannot get out-muscled in their own ballpark, not when they’ve had two decades to figure out how to build a team there.
6. Seattle Mariners (7-8) at Miami Marlins (6-10)
Chris Young (0-0, 0.00) vs. Nate Eovaldi (1-1, 4.19)
Roenis Elias (1-1, 2.16) vs. Henderson Alvarez (4-2, 4.30)
Blake Beavan (0-1, 4.50) vs. Kevin Slowey (0-0, 4.38)
More unsightly pitching matchups; Nate Eovaldi is the most talented pitcher of the 12 listed so far. Eovaldi, formerly of the Dodgers and their system, carries some serious heat, but he hasn’t proven himself yet. He’s 24 years old and this should be his first full season.
Seattle is getting–dare I say it?–lucky here. At least two of their pitchers above, Young and Beavan, would not be on a fully healthy Mariners club; and yet, they have a good chance to take the series, because they are facing one of the two or three least talented teams in the league (skipping the day Jose Fernandez pitches, no less). They’ve timed their injuries quite expertly.
5. Chicago White Sox (8-8) at Texas Rangers (9-7)
Felipe Paulino (0-1, 7.98) vs. Martin Perez (2-0, 2.70)
Jose Quintana (1-0, 2.37) vs. Colby Lewis (0-1, 6.75)
Erik Johnson (0-1, 6.35) vs. Robbie Ross (1-0, 1.00)
These White Sox pitchers must be just the boost the Rangers needed to get the offense going again. I swear I had not heard of Erik Johnson before I wrote this. I can tell you his velocity is down.
The same thing I said about Seattle’s luck can be said about Texas. Lewis and Ross just have to eat up innings what figure to be high-scoring affairs. When there’s more data, I would love to compare how each team’s backup and emergency starters fared.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks (4-14) at Los Angeles Dodgers (10-6)
Wade Miley (2-2, 5.04) vs. Zack Greinke (3-0, 2.76)
Mike Bolsinger (0-0, 6.00) vs. Dan Haren (2-0 2.04)
Josh Collmenter (0-1, 3.75) vs. Josh Beckett (0-0, 4.00)
Word has it that Arizona traveled to LA a day early for a meeting with Disney. They sealed the deal on a movie about the comeback season they are about to have. The Disney executive was a thin, fresh-faced man of about thirty or so, with an ever-present, ever-shifting smile. In this meeting, which took place at a Denny’s by the 405, the executive, called Benson, spoke enthusiastically about getting Zac Efron to play Archie Bradley, a cocky young stud of a pitcher who shows up in the second act, and mentioned in hushed tones that the Hemsworth brothers were fighting over who got to play Goldschmidt. Benson closed the meeting by saying that Mr. Disney was taking a personal interest in the development of this film and produced a phone that had an old man’s voice, a real deep bass, on the other end, which said, “This is Mr. Disney, I just wanted to say, ahh, that I’m really excited to be in business with you fellas, and that we, ah, really respect what you’re doing over there.” There was some silence like the mouthpiece had been covered for a moment, then: “You guys really value grit–bahahahahaahaha–and heart–haahahahahaha–stop it, I can’t, it’s too much, I can’t do anymore–hahahahahaha–you wanna say something?” A button was pressed and more voices could be heard laughing. Then one yelled, “Suck it, D-bags!” and Benson folded the phone shut before immediately sprinting toward the door. As he reached the street a convertible skidded to a half in front of him. Goldschmidt memorized the license plate as Benson jumped in and sped away into the desert. Towards Phoenix.
Turns out “Benson” was an underling in Dodgers GM Ned Colletti’s office, recruited by Colletti and owner Magic Johnson (a.k.a. “Mr. Disney”) to prank poor Kirk Gibson, the manager of the Diamondbacks, who, bless his heart, just wanted his team to believe again.
3. Houston Astros (5-11) at Oakland Athletics (10-5)
Sonny Gray (2-0, 0.95) vs. Jarred Cosart (1-1, 4.00)
Scott Kazmir (2-0, 1.40) vs. Brett Oberholtzer (0-3, 3.50)
Jesse Chavez (0-0, 1.35) vs. Brad Peacock (0-1, 7.45)
We get to see the A’s three best pitchers so far, who make every game worth checking out, plus more of George Springer. Live vicariously through Chavez, who is probably smaller than you. Peacock used to be an A, maybe there’s bad blood there. Cosart and Oberholtzer are probably growing with each start, feel free to check in on them if you like.
2. San Francisco Giants (10-6) at San Diego Padres (7-9)
Matt Cain (0-2, 4.00, .259 BABIP) vs. Tyson Ross (1-2, 3.12)
Tim Hudson (2-0, 2.35, .200 BABIP) vs. Eric Stults (0-2, 5.52)
Tim Lincecum (0-1, 7.20, .349 BABIP) vs. Robbie Erlin (1-1, 3.18)
The Giants get an extra stat this week, which is meant to show you first of all that something is still fishy with Matt Cain. That .259 BABIP is right around his career average. It’s the home runs that are doing him in, just like last year. Hudson is cruising for now, and his veteran consistency will be a major asset in a close race. Lincecum’s BABIP is high, yes, but his fastball are slow and fat now, so he should get hit hard.
But probably not at PetCo. (That goes for the store and the park.) The Padres have scored as much as the Astros have, and there’s not much evidence that they are really any better than that. The Astros get the benefit of the DH, I must say, but identical is identical, and 45 runs in 16 games won’t cut it no matter what league you play in.
1. Los Angeles Angels (7-8) at Detroit Tigers (7-5)
Jered Weaver (0-2, 5.79) vs. Drew Smyly (1-0, 0.00)
C.J. Wilson (2-1, 3.92) vs. Max Scherzer (0-1, 2.70)
Hector Santiago (0-2, 4.98) vs. Rick Porcello (1-1, 4.15)
Oh, does this series have it all. A true contender from another division, always a treat. Offense in spades but the first two games feature quality starting pitching. Both teams have shaky bullpens, so we’ll see who blows up last.