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The Leadoff 5/30: Previewing the Week Ahead

Gabe Goralnick previews the week ahead in MLB.

This week in baseball is poised for several series to keep an eye on. The action begins when the Padres head to St. Louis and is capped off by a Mets-Dodgers series.

 

Can the Jays Keep It Going?

 

The White Sox head to Toronto for a three-game series this week. Both teams have not met their preseason expectations and are still trying to prove themselves.

Chicago has been hanging at just about .500 since the beginning of May. The team had its health issues at the beginning of the season, but now with most of the team healthy, the White Sox desperately need to go on a run.

The Blue Jays have also underperformed expectations so far. Like last year, they were supposed to be an offensive juggernaut, and with the added pitching help, they would be a force to be reckoned with. However, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette have been underperforming, and Matt Chapman and Teoscar Hernández have been below average at the plate.

Unlike the White Sox, however, the Blue Jays have stayed above .500 and they now find themselves on a five-game winning streak, having won seven out of their last 10 contests. This run has been fueled by pitching performances from Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah along with overall great showings by the offense and Bichette, in particular.

The Blue Jays clearly carry the momentum into this series, but the White Sox are desperate to prove themselves. Lucas Giolito will face Gausman in game one setting the table for a pitchers’ duel. Toronto’s offense could make a statement by knocking Giolito out early. The same could be said for José Abreu and the White Sox if they pile it on Gausman.

Catch game one on Tuesday at 7:07 PM EST.

 

Machado vs. Arenado

 

This week, Manny Machado and the Padres head to St. Louis to visit Nolan Arenado and the Cardinals. They each find themselves in tight division races looking to gain an inch whenever possible; every series is a must-win.

Despite the absence of Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres offense has had few issues. Machado is a frontrunner for NL MVP and Eric Hosmer is suddenly good again. San Diego has also benefited from decent pitching with its sixth-best-in-baseball 3.38 ERA.

Game two will see Blake Snell face Adam Wainwright. Snell bounced back nicely in his second start since coming off the injured list. He gave up three runs on three hits through 5.1 innings while striking out seven.

Wainwright carries a 3.12 ERA into the series. The righty is coming off one of his worst outings of the season in which he allowed three runs on 10 hits while only striking out two batters.

It will be a hefty task for Wainwright and the Cardinals’ pitching staff to control the Padres’ offense, so St. Louis’ bats will need to show up. Aside from Arenado, the burden will be on Paul Goldschmidt, who has also returned to MVP form, along with Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader to secure a series victory.

Game one will begin on Monday at 2:15 PM EST.

 

The Brew Crew Host the Friars

 

After their series in St. Louis, the Padres will head to Milwaukee. The two teams have nearly identical records and have fairly well constructed all-around rosters.

Christian Yelich is having a decent bounceback season, and Rowdy Tellez has been great so far. But with Hunter Renfroe hurt, Yelich and Tellez will need to step up against San Diego’s pitching. They will face the heart of San Diego’s pitching staff in Sean Manaea, Joe Musgrove, and MacKenzie Gore.

With Nick Martinez taking the mound in game four following the three of them, the Padres carry the advantage in this series, especially since the injured Brandon Woodruff will not pitch. That is as long as Machado and Hosmer continue hitting and are joined to some extent by Jurickson Profar, Ha-Seong Kim, and Jake Cronenworth.

This will be an interesting series to watch as the two teams could very well face each other in a playoff series in a few months.

Catch game one on Thursday at 7:40 PM EST.

 

The Mets Head Out West

 

The Mets head to Los Angeles this weekend to face the Dodgers. Despite the temporary loss of Max Scherzer, the Mets pulled off a sweep against the Phillies this past weekend, and the Dodgers have won eight of their last ten and hold the best record in baseball. This will be the first time these teams face each other this season, and it will be a must-watch.

New York’s offense carries the fifth-best OPS in baseball and Pete Alonso is shaping out to be a potential NL MVP candidate this season. The back-to-back and reigning Home Run Derby champion has a .881 OPS, 12 home runs, and has knocked in 46 runs. Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil are also having stellar seasons.

The Dodgers’ offense, however, has the best OPS in baseball. Between Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Freddie Freeman, no pitcher should ever want to face this team.

Aside from the offenses, there will be some great pitching matchups in this four-game set. Game one is Taijuan Walker against Tony Gonsolin, game two is Chris Bassitt against Tyler Anderson, and game three is David Peterson against Walker Buehler. Expect these games to be very low-scoring for the most part.

Catch game one at 10:10 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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