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The Leadoff 4/25: Previewing the Week Ahead

Gabe Goralnick previews the week ahead of baseball.

From the renewal of a rivalry to an NL East matchup that may open eyes and the preview of a potential October showdown, the week ahead of baseball is promising. Keep an eye on the Giants’ continued success, as well as the awakening of Kyle Schwarber and for José Berríos to stay on track.

 

Orange, Green, and Gold

 

Beginning Tuesday, the Athletics will visit the Giants for a two-game set kicking off this season’s Bay Bridge Series. Although the rivalry is not heated like those of the Mets and Yankees or the Cubs and White Sox, it still often produces a quite entertaining product, particularly when the two teams are performing well. A couple of low-scoring games in which both teams are in it until the end can be expected.

As the third-best team in the big leagues, the Giants are the favorites heading into this interleague series; their offense has scored the fourth-most runs in the majors and its pitching staff has the second-best ERA among all teams. Having once again built an all-around good baseball team, President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi is silencing his doubters.

Tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for second-most home runs in baseball, Joc Pederson is powering San Francisco’s offense alongside Brandon Belt and Thairo Estrada. Pederson also holds a 1.133 OPS.

Carlos Rodón will take the mound in game one for the Giants. Alongside his 1.06 ERA, he also holds a 15.4 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio. The Giants have yet to announce a Game Two starter, but with their pitching depth, they should not have a problem keeping Oakland’s offense under control.

Although just barely over .500, the A’s ability to win ballgames should not be ignored. Oakland defeated the Tampa Bay Rays earlier this season in a four-game series, and the Rays are arguably one of the best at crafting ballgame-winning rosters. After trading away most of their big-name batting pieces, the A’s strength is found in their pitching.

Led by Frankie Montas, Oakland’s rotation holds a combined 3.54 ERA. Daulton Jefferies, who will take the mound for the A’s in Game One, has a 1.17 ERA so far. Oakland’s Game Two starter, Paul Blackburn, holds a 1.80 ERA and is yet to allow a home run this season. Behind its starters, Oakland’s bullpen carries a 2.98 ERA. If Oakland’s pitching can be on its A-game and hitters like Sean Murphy and Cristian Pache can knock in some runs, the A’s can manage a series split.

Catch Game One of this two-game series on Tuesday at 9:45 PM EST.

 

Phillies Trying to Find Their Way

 

The Phillies will make the trip to Queens this weekend to face the Mets. In the first edition of this division rivalry earlier this season, the Mets took the series in Philadelphia two games to one. Despite Dave Dombrowski’s several acquisitions prior to the 2022 season, the Phillies have continued to struggle so far holding a 6-10 record. The Mets’ acquisitions, on the other hand, have done exactly what they were supposed to do handing New York the second-to-best record in baseball.

Phillies’ pitching holds the fifth-worst ERA. in the majors and Zack Wheeler holds an 8.53 ERA through his first three outings. Furthermore, Philadelphia’s bullpen has a 4.57 ERA being unable to hold down games in the late innings.

Aaron Nola will start the series opener. He is one of the better pitchers so far in the Phillies’ rotation with a 3.74 ERA. After a rough start to the season and clear frustration at the plate, Schwarber will try need to get hot around Nick Castellanos and Bryce Harper to give their team what they need to defeat Tylor Megill and the Mets.

Megill, like much of the Mets rotation, is off to a stellar start. With a 2.78 overall pitching staff ERA and an offense that averages nearly five runs per game, all the Mets need to do is continue what they have been doing and they will be in good shape. The Phillies’ offense will break out at some point, however, and they should not be slept on to hammer New York’s pitching, no matter how good they have been until this point.

Game One can be caught on Friday evening at 7:10 PM EST.

 

Hints of October

 

This weekend will also host a rematch that baseball fans were just privileged to this past weekend. Over the weekend, the Astros hosted the Blue Jays. All three games of the series were won by a single run. Toronto won the first two contests, but Jeremy Peña and the Astros pulled through with a walk-off two-run home run in the 10th inning to salvage the series. More down-to-the-wire games can be expected this weekend when the Blue Jays host the Astros this weekend for another three-game set.

Being one of, if not, the most successful teams over the last several years, the Astros should always be assumed to be a contender until there is substantial evidence to the contrary. Their losing record does not amount to such evidence. They have, at times, struggled to score runs this season, but have also faced some tough opponents to start the season. Despite losing Carlos Correa, Houston still retains Justin Verlander, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve. With Altuve and Lance McCullers Jr. on the injured list, a slow start is understandable.

With Verlander not going this series for the Astros, it will be up to the portion of the rotation that has struggled a bit so far to keep their team in games. All they need to do is get through four to six innings before handing it over to their deep bullpen that carries a sub-three ERA. If they do this, that should be enough for their bats to win games.

With Yusei Kikuchi going in game one, followed up by Berríos, who is looking to stay on track after a couple of good starts that followed a horrendous first outing of the season, and Kevin Gausman, Toronto is in a great position for the series. They are currently tied for first place in the AL East and carry a lineup that consists of arguably the best hitter in baseball, alongside Matt Chapman and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. who have both had good starts to the season.

After this weekend’s series, this October might be the next time these two teams face off. With the Astros, postseason experience and the Blue Jays’ stacked roster, that will make for a thrilling playoff series.

Catch Game One on Friday evening at 7:07 PM EST.

Featured image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)

 

Gabe Goralnick

A junior at Yeshiva University studying political science and a diehard Red Sox fan from the Big Apple. He's either watching baseball, writing about baseball, or cooking some awesome food.

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