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The Leadoff 5/16: Previewing the Week Ahead

Gabe Goralnick looks ahead at the upcoming week in baseball.

This week in baseball holds the potential for a couple of thrilling series: the first when the Cardinals visit the Mets, and the second when the Astros visit Boston. The week may also be met with the highly anticipated call-up of one of MLB’s top prospects, Adley Rutschman.

 

The Cards Visit Queens

 

Tempers flared a few weeks ago in a benches-clearing debacle when the Mets visited the Cardinals. It was the latest of over 20 Mets batters to be hit by a pitch that led the Mets’ Yoan López to throw at Nolan Arenado sparking the drama. Most notably within the chaos, Pete Alonso was tackled by the Cardinals’ first base coach, Stubby Clapp. The two teams may have some unfinished business which will surely make for an interesting series.

Aside from their fights, the two teams have made for some great baseball. The Mets sit atop the National League at 23-13, and the Cardinals trail only the Brewers in their division with a 19-15 record.

The Cardinals have yet to be at or below .500 this season. Aside from a pitching staff that is just about average, Arenado has returned to MVP-form, establishing himself as the foundation piece of St. Louis’ lineup. Locked up in St. Louis through 2027, the third baseman holds a team-leading eight home runs, 29 RBIs, and a .974 OPS.

From Alonso’s eight home runs to Jeff McNeil’s .308 batting average, New York’s offense has been an all-around success. The team is second in MLB in hits and fifth in the National League in OPS. Over the last seven days, however, the Mets are 13th in the National League in OPS at .660, while the Cardinals find themselves in second during that span, coming in at .850.

Miles Mikolas will take the mound for the Cardinals in the series opener on Monday night. Holding a 1.49 ERA through 42.1 innings, the righty has been St. Louis’ best starter so far. While Mikolas does not strike out a ton of batters, he does limits walks and the long ball. He has held opponents to a career-best .244 batting average on balls in play this season. Mikolas also tossed seven shutout innings against the Mets four outings ago.

The Mets have Trevor Williams starting on Monday night. With only one start under his belt this year, the righty carries a 5.73 ERA into the series. The Cardinals’ offense should look to take advantage of Williams and the Mets’ lack of momentum in game one.

Catch game one of this four-game set at 7:10 PM EST.

 

ALCS Rematch

 

This week will host a rematch of the 2018 and 2021 ALCSs when the Houston Astros visit the Boston Red Sox. After getting off to a cold start to the season, Houston has now won nine of its last 10 games handing the team a 23-12 record, tied for second-best in the American League. Conversely, the Red Sox have not been able to shake their chilly start and find themselves with a 13-21 record and coming off their first series win in over a month.

Everything has gone right for the Astros recently. Over the last seven days, they have an MLB-leading .880 team OPS and are second in team ERA during that span at 2.72. Houston’s offense has been spearheaded by Yordan Alvarez. The designated hitter is tied for second in MLB with 11 home runs and has hit three of them over the last week while knocking in six runs. Along with rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña, Kyle Tucker, and Alex Bregman, Alvarez has led the Astros to score 41 runs over the last week.

Boston has shown immense improvement at the plate recently. After spending the first month of the season scoring three runs or fewer in most of their games, the Red Sox are third in team OPS in the American League over the last week. During that span, Rafael Devers has knocked in eight runs and has a 1.344 OPS. Furthermore, Xander Bogaerts leads the American League with a .344 batting average. Keep an eye on J.D. Martinez as he looks to extend his 16-game hitting streak.

Jake Odorizzi takes the mound for Houston in game one. After giving up four runs in four innings in last season’s ALCS, Odorizzi has had a stellar start to the 2022 season and has not allowed an earned run since his start against the Rangers on April 26th.

Garrett Whitlock will start game one for the Red Sox. The righty has completely transitioned to a starting role after beginning the year in the bullpen. He is coming off the toughest outing of his career in which he was knocked out after giving up three runs in only three innings. All things considered, Whitlock still holds one of the best whiff percentages in the league and will look to rebound against Houston’s stacked lineup.

Catch game one of this three-game set on Monday evening at 7:10 PM EST.

 

Rutschman Ready

 

Rutschman is ready to be called up, it is just a matter of Orioles management pulling the trigger at this point. When asked about his status and health, the top prospect responded, “We’re full go. I’m catching. It’s a full schedule.”

Rutschman was drafted first overall by the Orioles in 2019. After not playing any pro ball in 2020, the top prospect let everyone know he did not miss a beat as he managed a .899 OPS between double-A and triple-A in 2021. The catcher was expected to make the Major League roster by opening day or not soon after until he suffered a preseason tricep strain.

Rutschman is now back at triple-A after completing his rehab assignments. With his debut imminent, he could be the Orioles starting catcher come their series hosting the Yankees this week or the Rays this weekend.

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.

2 responses to “The Leadoff 5/16: Previewing the Week Ahead”

  1. Joe Mulvey says:

    Gabe, what did you think about Whitlock last night? I am a fan.

    • Gabe Goralnick says:

      Hi Joe. I thought Whitlock put up a great bounce-back start last night compared to his start in Atlanta. I think he is a great asset to the starting rotation, but I do still worry about the lack of bullpen depth without him in it. I hope he’ll soon be getting through 6 or 7 innings per start.

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