Five things to watch this weekend


The hottest team in baseball is those Cleveland Indians, and we don't need instant replay to prove it. The Tribe has won 10 of 11 with terrific pitching and more than a few home runs. Mark Reynolds leaves nothing to chance with 500-foot blasts. Scott Kazmir looked like Clayton Kershaw on Thursday. And help is on the way as Michael Bourn comes off the DL this weekend, just in time for an AL Central matchup with the Detroit Tigers. Are the Indians for real? Well, this isn't the first time the franchise has overachieved early on, just to disappoint later. This weekend they get Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Rick Porcel ... well, they get Max and Justin. Good luck!

Here are other things you need to keep an eye on for this weekend!

1. Underachievers: Two teams not exactly playing quality baseball are the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago White Sox, but they're in the spotlight Sunday night on ESPN. Pitching has been an issue for each squad, but on Sunday the likes of Dylan Axelrod (Friday starter) and Jerome Williams (Saturday) step aside for lefties C.J. Wilson and Chris Sale. Can the Angels contend out West? Well, let's see them get comfortably ahead of the Houston Astros first. The White Sox are already in the cellar. If these teams don't turn things around, they'll be sellers. Look for the Angels to turn things around sooner, especially with Jered Weaver and Ryan Madson close to returning.

2. Pass the suntan lotion: While Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz takes offense to allegations his body has been illegally aided, ace right-hander Clay Buchholz has remained relatively quiet about Toronto Blue Jays announcer Jack Morris accusing him of doctoring baseballs with a foreign substance on his arm, later suggested to be a mixture of suntan lotion and rosin (and for a night game in a dome!). Well, what better way for Buchholz to make a statement than in person as the last-place Blue Jays visit Fenway Park. Buchholz is scheduled to face lefty Mark Buehrle Saturday afternoon. In this case suntan lotion is reasonable. If Buchholz pitches poorly, though, it's not going to help his reputation. I'll say he pitches well.

3. Hit on 20: Two first-place teams with more than 20 wins continue their series out West as the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants meet in what could be -- you'll hear this quite a bit over the next four months -- a playoff preview. After all, these teams faced off in the 2010 playoffs. The worst of the starting pitchers still pending in the series is, believe it or not, Tim Lincecum. Hey, the numbers support that. Lincecum is scheduled to meet Kris Medlen Sunday, and while the two-time Cy Young Award winner has had much success against current Braves hitters in the past, that's totally irrelevant. Lincecum isn't the same pitcher he used to be. His underwhelming numbers look pretty much on par with his 2012 ones, with the high ERA, WHIP and strikeout rate.

4. Carlos in Charge: One of the best players many have never heard of will bring a 14-game hitting streak and an NL-leading .386 batting average to Cincinnati this weekend. Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez is hitting .491 during this stretch, and the highlight pitching matchup comes right away on Friday, as Cincinnati Reds rookie lefty Tony Cingrani faces right-hander Yovani Gallardo. It's also an important outing for Cingrani, with right-hander Johnny Cueto (oblique) nearing a return to the active roster. It's either Cingrani or Mike Leake who will lose a rotation spot, and while it might seem an obvious choice, it probably isn't to Dusty Baker.

5. Harvey's bar: New York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey has set the bar quite high in the early going, posting a 1.28 ERA, 0.69 WHIP and 4-0 mark through seven starts, and Sunday he gets to face another underwhelming offense in the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's possible Harvey really is a legit Cy Young fave, but here are the teams he's dominated so far: Padres, Phillies, Twins, Nationals, Dodgers, Marlins, White Sox. Not exactly top offenses. Still, Harvey is must-see TV each time out. A few years ago the same could be said of lefty Francisco Liriano; he's a Pirate now, scheduled to make his season debut Saturday, but after posting an ERA on the wrong side of 5 three of the past four seasons, it's tough to muster interest in him.

Have a great weekend!