The Game Planner, May 30th-June 4th

Hello, British baseball fans, and welcome back to the Game Planner, your guide to MLB games that don’t require insomnia to watch. 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. Apologies for the late running of this week’s edition; as Monday was a holiday in both the UK and US, hopefully readers can forgive me.

Some important notes: 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.

We have also had requests from multiple readers to include an indication of games being shown on BT Sport, so for this edition I have tagged those with (BT) and highlighted them in orange. Again, please take these with a grain of salt; I have seen UK fans complain in the past that BT will change their schedule with little notice to show entirely different sports at times when MLB games are listed, so don’t assume these games are definitely going to be the ones shown live.

The colour coded aspects of the planner 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.
BT – A game being shown live on BT Sport’s ESPN channel, as per the BT Sport TV Guide.

On to the games.

Watchable Games

Tuesday, May 30th

None

Wednesday, May 31st

5:35 PM – Diamondbacks @ Pirates (BT)
5:37 PM – Reds @ Blue Jays
6:10 PM – Astros @ Twins (Top Offensive Matchup) – The Twins are the 6th-best team by wRC+ over the last two weeks, and 8th on the season; the Astros are 2nd and 6th in the same periods. Outside of Miguel Sano, a player frequently referenced here, Robbie Grossman and Joe Mauer have been particularly hot for the division-leading Twins. Of considerable interest to European fans may be German outfielder Max Kepler, who is demonstrating some impressive plate discipline in just his second major league season. The Astros lineup is formidable from top to bottom, but it’s 22-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa who has most terrified opposing pitchers lately, hitting .389 with six home runs over the past 30 days.
6:10 PM – Phillies @ Marlins
8:40 PM – Cubs @ Padres (BT)

Thursday, June 1st
5:10 PM – Athletics @ Indians –  Former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber should make his return from the disabled list for a Cleveland team in much need of pitching help, as the 2016 AL champs continue to make winning the AL Central look much harder than anyone predicted. He’ll face Jharel Cotton, who was a hot preseason pitching sleeper in fantasy circles after a stellar debut in late 2016, but has failed to replicate that success with a 5.56 ERA and a brief demotion so far. Watch out for Cotton’s changeup, which boasts a terrific amount of movement and can be a devastating weapon.
6:10 PM – Brewers @ Mets
6:45 PM – Dodgers @ Cardinals
8:40 PM – Rockies @ Mariners

Friday, June 2nd
7:20 PM – Cardinals @ Cubs (BT) once again, it’s Friday evening Cubs baseball at Wrigley Field as Chicago starts another series against their long-time rivals, who are struggling to the same extent as the Cubs at .500, but have the benefit of drastically different preseason expectations. Two pitchers with very different fortunes thus far will face off, as Tommy John returnee Lance Lynn and his 2.93 ERA will face the scuffling John Lackey (5.45). Lackey’s had a real home run problem so far, giving up 13 in 10 starts, so this start against a Cardinals lineup who sit in the bottom 5 for home runs could be of some benefit.

Saturday, June 3rd
6:07 PM – Yankees @ Blue Jays
7:15 PM – Indians @ Royals (Free Game)
7:20 PM – Cardinals @ Cubs
9:05 PM – Nationals @ Athletics
9:05 PM – Giants @ Phillies
9:10 PM – White Sox @ Tigers
9:10 PM – Dodgers @ Brewers Rich Hill is currently healthy (to my knowledge) and therefore you should watch him pitch. Hill’s career renaissance after years of poor performance, injury woes, and even a trip to the independent leagues, is one of the most remarkable stories in recent memory, even if blisters have frustratingly interrupted that renaissance on several occasions in the last year. The 37-year-old’s willingness to defy traditional pitching logic by using his tremendous curveball as often as his fastball has been key in that resurgence. The Brewers will try to solve that curveball and maintain their hold on the NL Central, which has faltered with their lineup over recent weeks and has only been preserved with similarly lacklustre performance from the Cards and Cubs.
9:10 PM – Braves @ Reds
9:10 PM – Rockies @ Padres
9:10 PM – Diamondbacks @ Marlins

Sunday, June 4th
6:07 PM – Yankees @ Blue Jays (Top Pitching Matchup) – Assuming no rotation shuffling takes place, Luis Severino and the division-leading Yankees will take on Marcus Stroman and the last-place Blue Jays. Toronto has been much better of late, with Jose Bautista heating up and both Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki back from the DL. Severino has a strong 11.1% swinging strike rate and has struck out almost ten batters per nine innings as a result, while Stroman possesses an outstanding 61.6% ground ball rate. Both are currently among the league’s top 30 starters by WAR.
6:10 PM – White Sox @ Tigers
6:10 PM – Braves @ Reds
6:10 PM – Pirates @ Mets
6:10 PM – Diamondbacks @ Marlins
6:35 PM – Red Sox @ Orioles – The AL’s best pitcher, Chris Sale, takes on Chris Tillman and the projection-defying Baltimore Orioles. Despite the efforts of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, Boston’s lineup has been just average offensively, with Hanley Ramirez not yet able to get even close to replicating David Ortiz‘s production. With Manny Machado hitting .216, catcher Welington Castillo and rookie Trey Mancini have been the most productive hitters for a one-dimensional Baltimore offence, but that one dimension is dingers. They’ve hit just enough of them at the right time to somehow have essentially the same record as Boston, despite a rotation with unsightly peripherals (not to mention Ubaldo Jimenez) and the absence of the injured Zach Britton, one of the league’s best relievers.
6:35 PM – Giants @ Phillies
7:10 PM – Dodgers @ Brewers (Free Game)
7:15 PM – Indians @ Royals
8:05 PM – Astros @ Rangers
8:37 PM – Twins @ Angels
9:05 PM – Nationals @ Athletics
9:10 PM – Rays @ Mariners

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