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The Leadoff 6/13: Previewing the Week Ahead

Gabe Goralnick previews the week ahead in MLB.

After their recent success, Atlanta and the Phillies look to stay hot this week. Along with that, the Guardians try to prove themselves in Los Angeles, the Yankees take on the AL East, and the Cardinals come to Fenway Park for the first time in nine years.

 

Heat in the NL East

 

With the Mets leading in the NL East but currently holding on without the help of Max Scherzer or Jacob deGrom, Atlanta and Philadelphia are trying to gain as much ground as possible as soon as possible before the Mets gain full health. Atlanta finds itself in second place, five games back from New York, while the Phillies find themselves eight games back from first place.

 

Are the Champs Back?

 

Saying Ronald Acuña Jr. and the rest of his team have been tearing it up recently would not do them justice. They have won 11 games in a row and are yet to lose a game in the month of June. They head to Washington D.C. and Chicago to try and keep the streak alive.

Everything has been working for Atlanta over the last couple of weeks. Its offense has the best OPS in the National League over the last 15 days and its pitching staff holds the best ERA during that span. Everything seems to be falling into place for the defending world series champions. The bats will have no problem mashing their way to victory if the pitching keeps doing its thing.

Ian Anderson will take the mound in game one against the Nationals. The righty is coming off of a stellar start against Oakland in which he allowed a couple of earned runs over six innings. Although the Nationals have a significantly stronger lineup than Oakland, they still have serious shortcomings. Expect five or six quality innings from Anderson on Monday. It should only get easier for Atlanta from there with Max Fried and Spencer Strider towing the slab in the following two games of the three-game set.

Catch game one against the Nationals on Monday at 7:05 PM EST.

 

The matchup that stands out most over the next week for Atlanta is Charlie Morton’s start on Friday in Chicago. Morton, who has unexpectedly turned into one of Atlanta’s most shaky starters, has not recorded a quality start since May 20th and holds a 6.55 ERA in the month of June.

Acuna, Austin Riley, Matt Olson, and Adam Duvall will need to be locked in at the plate to take the first game, but it should not be too much of a challenge to at least take the series with Kyle Wright and Anderson going in games two and three respectively.

Catch game one against the Cubs on Friday afternoon at 2:20 PM EST.

 

The Fightin’ Phils

 

The Phillies also have an easy schedule over the next week paving a clear path for them to continue their hot streak. To begin the week, they host the Marlins for a three-game set. They then head over to the nation’s capital for a weekend series against the Nationals.

After Atlanta, the Phillies have the next best OPS in the National League over the last 15 days. While their pitching has been decent, their hitting has carried them to win nine of their last ten games and reach the .500 mark.

Combined with Bryce Harper’s MVP capabilities, Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins have heated up over the past couple of weeks. Rookie shortstop Bryson Stott has also come through and has four home runs and a 1.087 OPS over the last 15 days.

The firing of Joe Girardi triggered this hot streak. There are still holes in this team’s bullpen and defense, but if they can keep the momentum going as close to the trade deadline as possible, they will be in good shape. Facing the Marlins and Nationals over the next week will only help the Phillies. Both teams are below .500 and the Nationals have a -83 run differential. If the bats can keep it going and the starting pitchers keep the Phillies in games, then they should continue to creep up on Atlanta and the Mets.

Catch game one of the mid-week series against the Marlins at 7:05 PM EST on Monday, and catch the series opener against the Nationals on Thursday at 7:05 PM EST.

 

Bieber Takes on LA

 

The Guardians head over to Los Angeles to play to Dodgers for what could shape out to be a very dramatic series. Cleveland has the momentum heading into this week having won 7 of its last 10 games. On the other hand, the Dodgers have dropped 6 of their last 10.

After not having many expectations heading into 2022, the Guardians have shaped into a .500 team that is in the running for a wild card spot. They may even be able to overtake first place if the Twins were to hit a rough patch.

Behind Cleveland’s recent success has been quality hitting as well as quality pitching. José Ramírez and Andrés Giménez have combined for 7 home runs and 22 RBI over the last 15 days. Furthermore, Zach Plesac, Cal Quantrill, and Shane Bieber, who all make starts in this series, have been anchors recently.

The Dodgers will be a tough team to beat, but, as mentioned, they have not been playing great recently. If the Guardians want to be taken seriously, their best bet is to take the series in Los Angeles.

Game one will begin at 10:10 PM EST on Friday night. The best matchup of the series is Sunday afternoon’s game in which Bieber will go up against Tony Gonsolin. First pitch in that series finale is scheduled for 4:10 PM EST.

 

The Bombers Head to Toronto

 

The Bronx Bombers will be staying in the AL East this week. They host the Rays, then head to Toronto for a weekend series. The last time the Yankees and Blue Jays faced each other, drama ensued. Since then, the Blue Jays have been playing much better baseball and should put up a fight against baseball’s best at home.

Expect a multitude of home runs all weekend from both sides in Toronto’s hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. The best pitching matchup of the series will be Saturday’s game in which Jameson Taillon and Alek Manoah will face each other. Game one is set to begin at 7:07 PM EST.

 

Hello Old Friend

 

Aside from the 2022 storylines, a nearly century-old storyline will take on a new form this weekend. From Stan Musial and Bob Gibson to Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, the Cardinals and the Red Sox have a storied past. Having faced each other in four World Series, the two teams face off in Fenway Park this weekend.

This weekend marks the first time the Cardinals will visit Fenway Park since the 2013 Fall Classic and the first regular-season visit since 2008. The teams have changed so much since then. Xander Bogaerts is the only player left from Boston’s 2013 roster, while the Cardinals still have Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright. Albert Pujols, of course, who was there for the 2004 World Series is also making his return in a Cardinals uniform. Michael Wacha is the only other player that is left from that series, but he will be on the opposite side from where he stood in 2013.

Wainwright will face Wacha in game one on Friday at 7:10 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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