In today's edition of Triple Play, our analysts look at the weekend's most intriguing series and the teams poised to break out.
1. The series you'd most like to be at this weekend is _____?
David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield
Nationals at Dodgers. I want to see whether this Nationals rotation can contain Matt Kemp. I want to see whether Ross Detwiler is for real. I want to see Clayton Kershaw pitch on Friday and Stephen Strasburg on Saturday. I want to see whether Gio Gonzalez can have another dominant start. Oh, and it probably will be a perfect 75 degrees.
Katie Sharp (@ESPNStatsInfo
), ESPN Stats & Information
Nationals at Dodgers. Most people didn't expect these teams to have the two best records in the National League entering the last weekend in April. But are their red-hot starts for real? The Nats and Dodgers have each played only one series against a team with a current winning record. This is a chance to prove that they are contenders, not pretenders.
Eric Karabell (@karabellespn
), ESPN Fantasy
Well, I will be at Cubs-Phillies for a game this weekend, but there's nothing like watching a Texas Rangers game these days. They host Tampa Bay, and I want to see the league's top offense deal with James Shields and David Price on Friday and Sunday. Once the Rays get through this nasty part of their schedule, I think they'll take off, but this series should be a great test.
2. The pitching matchup you'll most likely be watching this weekend is _____?
Sunday night, David Price versus Derek Holland, and not just because this game happens to be on ESPN. Two of the hardest-throwing lefties in the business square off in the finale of a great series. The Rays have weathered a brutal April schedule. Can Price -- who threw a career-high 29 changeups his last start -- shut down the Rangers?
David Price versus Derek Holland, two of the best young lefties in the game, in the national spotlight on ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball." What more could you ask for? The radar gun will be smoking, as these two studs both average more than 93 mph with their heater, and I can't wait to see who flinches first.
How can you beat Joe Blanton versus Randy Wells? OK, don't answer that. Certainly Jon Lester versus Jake Peavy piques my interest. Lester is winless and struggling, while Peavy comes off a three-hit shutout and boasts a 1.88 ERA with four walks and 26 strikeouts. I think the White Sox can stick around in the AL Central, but their pitching must remain strong.
3. The team you think is about to sneak up on some people is _____?
The Seattle Mariners. Yes, I'm completely biased. They just swept the Tigers, and maybe, just maybe, they will actually start scoring runs on a consistent basis. The rotation is shaky behind Felix Hernandez, but Ichiro Suzuki looks good, Jesus Montero will start hitting, and Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen are sneaky good in the bullpen.
Sharp: Cincinnati Reds. The Reds were a trendy pick to win the NL Central but stumbled out of the game with eight losses in their first 12 games. Since then, they have quietly won five of their past seven games and now are just three games back of the Cardinals. Their next three series are very winnable -- home against the Astros, home against the Cubs, at the Pirates -- and they could easily find themselves in first place before Mother's Day.
Karabell: It's the Angels. Albert Pujols, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana will get better, and soon we'll see Mike Trout igniting the top of the lineup. Two of the Angels' next four series are against the Minnesota Twins. What else do they need? I also think the White Sox and Phillies are about to get hot.