The Game Planner, May 22nd-28th

Hello, British baseball fans, and welcome back to the Game Planner, your guide to the occasional MLB games that take place when we are awake. To any new readers, welcome, and please read the original post for full details on the quirks of the schedule and this feature’s purpose.

For those who want a quick version, every game that is likely to end before about midnight UK time is counted as a ‘Watchable Game’. 9:10 PM is usually the latest start time I will include, unless there is a slightly later game of particular note. Each day I will pick out at least one watchable game of interest (identified in bold) and note some reasons why you might want to tune in, such as a particularly exciting player, a key divisional matchup, or a team on a hot streak. A disclaimer: the schedule, both in terms of game times and projected starters, is extremely subject to change as a result of weather conditions, injuries, and the simple fact that teams sometimes change their minds about how they want to line up their starters, so please be aware that the information below is not set in stone.

There are also three colour coded aspects of the planner, which are as follows:

Top Pitching Matchup – this week’s most interesting pitching duel, featuring two pitchers of either high quality or of note in some other way, such as a recent run of good form or an unusual pitching motion.
Top Offensive Matchup – a game featuring two of the league’s most productive lineups in recent weeks.
Free Game – MLB.tv’s Free Game of the Day, accessible via the MLB.tv schedule.

On to the games.

Watchable Games

Monday, May 22nd

None

Tuesday, May 23rd

None

Wednesday, May 24th

5:35 PM – Twins @ Orioles – The Twins and Orioles are right in the thick of the playoff hunt, just as everyone predicted. Once again, Baltimore appears to have taken some pessimistic projections as a personal affront and is currently outperforming them for what feels like the 30th consecutive year. Chris Tillman, the Orioles’ longest-tenured starter, has returned from a shoulder issue and will attempt to prevent Miguel Sano from exercising his prodigious power. Minnesota has been outscored but somehow still leads the AL Central, although their ability to hold off reigning champions Cleveland probably won’t last long. Hope for their largely lacklustre rotation has arrived in the form of 22-year-old Jose Berrios, frequently mentioned here already, who has blown away MLB hitters in his first two starts of the year. Also keep an eye on the tremendously athletic Byron Buxton in the outfield, who is still trying to find his way at the plate but can always be counted upon for spectacular defensive plays.
6:10 PM – Blue Jays @ Brewers (Free Game)
8:35 PM – Marlins @ Athletics
8:40 PM – White Sox @ Diamondbacks

Thursday, May 25th

5:10 PM – Pirates @ Braves (Free Game)
6:05 PM – Royals @ Yankees – If we had known that the Yankees would storm out to a surprise lead in the AL East, we probably would have expected Masahiro Tanaka to play a significant part. Instead he has a miserable 6.56 ERA and lasted just three innings in his last start.  The Yankees insist he’s healthy and have said he’ll still make this start, so watch out to see if he can regain some of his command and effectively throw his splitter and slider. It’s not clear who the Royals will send to the mound, with Nate Karns forced to leave his last start with some elbow tightness, but any spot starter will have a tough assignment in New York against the lineup that has scored the most runs in the AL.
6:05 PM – Rockies @ Phillies
6:10 PM – Angels @ Rays
7:20 PM – Giants @ Cubs
9:05 PM – Mariners @ Nationals

Friday, May 26th

None

Saturday, May 27th

6:05 PM – Athletics @ Yankees
6:07 PM – Rangers @ Blue Jays (Top Pitching Matchup) – the Rangers looked close to being finished for 2017 a couple of weeks ago, with a poor April compounded by a long-term injury to one of their top starters, Cole Hamels. Then they reeled off a 10-game winning streak to put pressure back on the Astros and are very much in the Wild Card mix again. Yu Darvish is projected to start against Toronto’s Marco Estrada in a matchup of two of the AL’s best pitchers in recent years. Darvish has an incredible repertoire, employing at least six pitches, perhaps as many as eight, depending on how you want to classify them. Estrada doesn’t throw anywhere near as hard and takes a very different approach, getting tons of pop-ups at the top of the zone with his high-spin fastball and then most of his whiffs with his excellent changeup.
7:10 PM – Tigers @ White Sox
7:10 PM – Rays @ Twins
9:05 PM – Mariners @ Red Sox – Two of the more popular preseason playoff picks have failed to impress to this point. Seattle’s entire rotation has been on the disabled list, which means that the likes of this game’s projected starter Chris Heston have been called into action. Star second baseman Robinson Cano recently joined their hurlers on the shelf and Seattle now sit in last place in the AL West. Young Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez was picked out in the last edition of the Planner and he did not disappoint with eight strikeouts and just one walk over eight innings of three-run ball, leading Boston to a much needed win. He should have the advantage here against a Seattle team that has posted a paltry .606 OPS against left-handers.
9:05 PM – Padres @ Nationals
9:05 PM – Reds @ Phillies
9:10 PM – Royals @ Indians (Free Game)
9:10 PM – Diamondbacks @ Brewers
9:10 PM – Angels @ Marlins

Sunday, May 28th

6:05 PM – Athletics @ Yankees
6:07 PM – Rangers @ Blue Jays
6:10 PM – Royals @ Indians
6:10 PM – Angels @ Marlins
6:35 PM – Mariners @ Red Sox
6:35 PM – Padres @ Nationals
6:35 PM – Reds @ Phillies
7:10 PM – Tigers @ White Sox
7:10 PM – Diamondbacks @ Brewers (Top Offensive Matchup) – the third and fourth most productive lineups in baseball over the past two weeks have helped keep their teams very much in contention as the end of May approaches. Jake Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt have powered Arizona over that span, combining for 13 extra-base hits and 19 walks. Milwaukee’s recent production has come from more unexpected places, namely Jesus Aguilar and the true Face of MLB, Eric Sogard, while T-Rex has slowed down on the home run front but still has a near-.400 OBP over the past fortnight. The Diamondbacks rotation has also been fairly impressive, but if there is a weak link, it is this game’s projected starter, Patrick Corbin, who has an ERA well over 4.
7:10 PM – Rays @ Twins
7:10 PM – Orioles @ Astros
8:10 PM – Cardinals @ Rockies (Free Game) Cardinals Devil Magic has become a well-established baseball trope at this point, and even if it has only carried them to a 22-19 record thus far, it seems to be working on their divisional rivals in Chicago. The rotation has needed to be good with their lineup providing little offensively and sure enough, three of the St. Louis starters have sub-3 ERAs, including this game’s probable hurler, Lance Lynn, who missed all of 2016 following Tommy John surgery. Lynn will get one of the toughest tests of his season against the team with the best record in the NL, in John’s favourite place, the toughest park in the game to pitch in. German Marquez, who came close to no-hitting the Cubs two weeks ago, will attempt to maintain Colorado’s slender lead over Los Angeles and Arizona – assuming it hasn’t evaporated by then. Even if the divisional favourite Dodgers do overtake them, the Rockies look in prime position for a wild card spot given the struggles of the Giants and Mets.
9:05 PM – Braves @ Giants
9:10 PM – Cubs @ Dodgers

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