As we near the halfway point of the 2020 season, a growing sample size provides us with an even better basis in forecasting tough opponents. Here’s the Week 5 breakdown, starting with the great schedules ahead:
Kenta Maeda (Minnesota Twins)
Maeda took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against Milwaukee in his last outing. He’s got plenty of forward momentum as he looks ahead to Kansas City and Detroit, both at the bottom of the AL Central. The Tigers and Royals are in MLB’s bottom-third in wOBA and wRC+.
After Maeda’s outing with the Royals on Sunday (8/23), he won’t see the Indians next week. He will instead face the Tigers next Friday (8/28).
Jon Lester (Chicago Cubs)
Lester will face a hot-hitting White Sox lineup tonight, but assuming he can return to early season form, his road beyond this evening will be easier than his road up to this point. After today, Lester is in line to face the 9-14 Tigers (8/26) and the 4-17 Pirates (9/1).
Lester’s last outing was his worst of the season, as he allowed five earned runs to Milwaukee in six innings. He had given up a combined two runs in the three starts he had made prior.
Chris Bassitt (Oakland Athletics)
The Angels (8/22) and Rangers (8/27) are next for Bassitt. Oakland visits Houston after the Texas series, and while the Astros have been heating up, Bassitt won’t be in line to face them. Oakland currently leads the AL West; the Angels and Rangers both have losing records, and rank a respective 16th and 29th in wRC+.
Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Kershaw narrowly avoids a series with the Rockies after facing the Mariners on Thursday. He will take on the Giants next week (8/25 or 8/26), followed by either the Rangers (8/30) or Diamondbacks (9/1). All three rank in the bottom half of wRC+ and wOBA.
Lance McCullers Jr. (Houston Astros)
With his start this evening, McCullers won’t have to make a start inside Coors Field. He will face the Padres on the road, the Angels at home (8/26), and will then miss the A’s after that, making his next outing against Texas (9/1). By wRC+ and wOBA figures, McCullers’ opponents will get progressively easier over his next three starts.
Luke Weaver (Arizona Diamondbacks)
Arizona will host Colorado for a four-game set next week, and Weaver will look to pitch the game before and the game after that series—both against the Giants. He is coming off his best outing of the year on Tuesday (5 IP, 1 ER vs. Oakland), and San Francisco is currently last in the NL West.
Dylan Cease (Chicago White Sox)
Cease’s next start puts him against a tough Cubs lineup with a wOBA that ranks 11th in baseball. His road ahead is what makes the schedule great; with off-days next Monday and Thursday, he could be even fresher than usual going into those outings.
If the team stays true to a five-day rotation, Cease will match up against the Royals (8/28) and Twins (9/2). If he is pushed back a single day, he will see Kansas City again (9/3) instead of Minnesota. Both the Twins and Royals have a sub-100 wRC+.
Lucas Giolito (Chicago White Sox)
Giolito will also work around those off-days for the White Sox, but unlike Cease, he is in line for their Pittsburgh series (8/25 or 8/26). The Pirates rank 30th in wRC+ and wOBA. If he follows a five-day set, he will see the Royals beyond that (8/30) and could also avoid the Twins.
Danny Duffy (Kansas City Royals)
Tonight will be Duffy’s third consecutive start against the Twins, and it is bound to get easier for him after that. He will finally break the streak next Wednesday with a presumed start against the Cardinals (8/26), and St. Louis hitters are still getting accustomed to a full slate of games after several postponements. He will then look ahead to Cleveland (8/31) and they currently have the worst wOBA in the American League.
Dinelson Lamet (San Diego Padres)
Lamet will also avoid an Astros series after having pitched Thursday against Texas. He will take on the Mariners next week (8/25 or 26), and they have lost eight of their last ten. Lamet’s later outings look a little more difficult, however. His second career start at Coors Field looks to come later in the month (8/30 or 31). His only appearance in Denver thus far came in 2017, and he allowed five earned runs over four innings with four walks.
Patrick Corbin (Washington Nationals)
After facing the Marlins this evening, it appears Corbin will be making consecutive starts against the Phillies (8/26 and 8/31). The Phillies currently rank in MLB’s top four across all three batting slash figures; despite currently ranking last in the NL East, they are tied with the same record as Corbin’s Nationals.
Zack Greinke (Houston Astros)
Greinke shut out the Rockies over eight innings on Tuesday, and he has plenty of forward momentum going into his next start on Sunday. He’ll see the hot hitting Padres next (8/23) and the AL West-leading A’s (8/28) beyond that.
JA Happ (New York Yankees)
Both New York teams are the current AL and NL leaders in wRC+. They were supposed to open a three-game set against each other in Queens this evening, and Happ was going to take the ball for the Yankees. That game is now postponed. His next opponent is the Braves (8/26 or 8/27), the current team atop the NL East.
Matt Shoemaker (Toronto Blue Jays)
Shoemaker’s next start puts him against the Rays who are 9-1 in their last 10 games. Tampa Bay currently ranks in the top five in both wOBA and wRC+. Shoemaker will look to the Red Sox next Wednesday (8/26).
Spencer Turnbull (Detroit Tigers)
Turnbull took on the hot-hitting White Sox on Thursday afternoon. He will look ahead to the Cubs (8/25) and Twins (8/30). Both teams lead their respective divisions, and Turnbull allowed three earned runs over two innings in his last start.
Trevor Bauer (Cincinnati Reds)
Bauer is off to a scorching start, leading all of baseball with a 0.68 ERA. He’s allowed two earned runs in 26 1/3 innings. So far, he has faced the Tigers (twice), the Brewers, and the Royals. Each of those teams ranks in the bottom third in wOBA.
He is in line to face Milwaukee again on Monday (8/24) and the Cubs next Friday (8/29). The Cubs have the highest wOBA and wRC+ out of all the opponents Bauer has seen this year. He already went to work against the Brewers lineup this year, spacing a single run over six innings (8/7).
Antonio Senzatela (Colorado Rockies)
Senzatela is coming off a tremendous outing in Houston, shutting out the Astros over eight innings. His next test will be inside Dodger Stadium on Sunday (8/23), and he is in line to avoid a four game set against the Diamondbacks beyond that. The Padres are the next presumed opponent for Senzatela (8/28), and both the Dodgers and Padres have the fourth- and third-best OPS in the NL.
Yu Darvish (Chicago Cubs)
The White Sox (8/23) and Reds (8/28 or 29) are on Darvish’s horizon, and they currently rank sixth and 13th in wOBA. Darvish’s worst start of the year was his last one, in which he pitched four frames and allowed three earned runs to the Brewers. Milwaukee ranks 26th in wOBA.
Zack Godley (Boston Red Sox)
His Sunday start against the Orioles (8/23) is a favorable matchup, but Godley will look ahead to the Nationals (8/29) and Braves (9/2). There is a chance that manager Ron Roenicke could push Godley back a day with having Monday off, which would put Godley against Toronto (9/3) instead of Atlanta. All three potential opponents have an above-average wRC+.
Max Fried (Atlanta Braves)
Fried looks ahead to the Phillies this evening, followed by either the Yankees (8/26) or the Phillies again. Philadelphia currently ranks third in wRC+ behind the Yankees and Mets.
Graphic by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter)