The Leadoff: Previewing the Week Ahead

Gabe Goralnick previews some big series coming up this week.

Following a thrilling opening weekend, baseball fans are in for some treats this week. Top prospects like Bobby Witt Jr. and Hunter Greene have made their debuts and will continue to settle into their roles, but the attention this week will shift to a couple of big division matchups, as well as a couple of other series that may help to answer some questions. Queries like whether the Cubs can successfully rebound from last season and if Atlanta can replicate its 2021 success are just a couple of things to keep an eye on this week.

 

Slug-fest in the Bronx

 

The Yankees and the Blue Jays will face off for a four-game series beginning on Monday evening at 7:05 PM EST in the Bronx. The two teams make up half of the four-way rivalry that is brewing in the AL East. Toronto and New York both won their opening series and hold a 2-1 record. The two loaded lineups, in addition to the hitter-friendly ballpark, will make for a slug-fest.

Yankees bats to keep an eye on are Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton. Rizzo enters this series with a hot bat after mashing a pair of home runs and knocking in six of the Yankees’ 13 runs against Boston over the weekend. Stanton also hit a pair of long balls over the weekend as well as three singles. Expect them to continue their success at the plate against the Blue Jays’ pitching staff which allowed 23 earned runs against Texas over the weekend.

New York will, however, need more than the bats of Rizzo and Stanton to stay in the game. They’re facing off against the Blue Jays offense that mashed seven home runs over the weekend to help Toronto score a total of 20 runs during its first three games. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Matt Chapman, and George Springer will look to keep Toronto’s bats hot alongside catcher Danny Jansen who cracked a pair of home runs over just eight plate appearances over the weekend.

In game three of the series, aces José Berríos and Gerrit Cole will both try to put up rebound performances following their disappointing season debuts on Friday. Both aces were yanked early; Berrios through only a third of an inning after allowing four runs, and Cole through four innings after surrendering three runs.

 

Cubbies Contending?

 

After being sellers at last season’s trade deadline, the Cubs took the opening series against the reigning NL Central champions, Milwaukee Brewers, and their reigning Cy Young winner, Corbin Burnes. Chicago will look to prove itself in a series against the Pirates and Rockies. Although not the most formidable opponents, series wins against both teams will make a serious case for the Cubs being past their 2021 woes.

Cubs’ starting pitching combined for 15.1 innings against the Brewers and allowed only two earned runs. The rotation can be expected to continue its success, but the bullpen, which allowed seven earned runs over the weekend, will need to improve in order for the Cubs’ to keep winning.

Seiya Suzuki, as expected, will be key to the Cubs’ offense going forward. The outfielder knocked in six runs over the weekend, walked four times, and had three hits, including his first MLB home run. Suzuki will look to continue utilizing his power to prove the Cubs to be division contenders.

The two-game series against Pittsburgh will begin on Tuesday afternoon in PNC Park at 4:12 PM EST and the four-game set against the Rockies will begin on Thursday at 8:40 PM EST in Coors Field.

 

The Wild West

 

The beginning of this week will see a big NL West matchup when the Padres visit the Giants. The three-game series could serve as a way-too-early indicator of who may have some semblance of control over their division. Both teams won their opening series against easier opponents so it will be interesting to see how they shape out against each other.

The Fernando Tatis Jr.-less San Diego offense that scored 20 runs over their first four games will go up against the back-end of San Francisco’s starting rotation, namely Alex Wood and Alex Cobb, to begin the series, and then get burgeoning ace, Logan Webb in game three. Jurickson Profar will look to extend his hot streak following a weekend that saw him hit a grand slam as well as three additional hits. Furthermore, an eye should be kept on Eric Hosmer who has recorded a hit in half of his at-bats so far, as well as top-prospect C.J. Abrams who could break out any day.

The Giants’ offense racked up only 10 runs during their opening series. While that was enough against the Marlins, it will not be enough when facing the Padres. Their bats, the one belonging to newly acquired Joc Pederson in particular, will need to heat up to be able to pull themselves past San Diego. Unfortunately for San Francisco, that will be an uphill battle as they will see Yu Darvish and Sean Manaea in games two and three, both of whom put up stellar first appearances this season.

Game one of this division matchup will begin at 9:45 PM EST on Monday.

 

Showdown in Slam-Diego

 

After their series in San Francisco, the Padres will head home to face the reigning World Series champions over the weekend. Atlanta is off to an okay start after splitting its opening series against the Reds. The team plated only 15 runs during that four-game set while allowing 19 runs. Being that Atlanta’s pitching has been facing the shortened Spring Training woes, it will be up to the big bats in Atlanta’s lineup to earn victories over the bonified Padres pitching staff that had one of the best opening weekends in the majors.

Three of four of San Deigo’s starters from the weekend posted scoreless performances, and its pitching staff as a whole allowed only 11 runs and struck out an average of 8.7 batters per nine innings. Matt Olson had no problem getting off to a hot start along with Austin Riley, but Atlanta will need more production from guys like Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson to power past the Padres offense.

You can catch game one on Thursday at 8:10 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.

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

  1. Ari Franklin says:

    Damn, great article, keep ‘em coming!

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