The Game Planner, May 15th-21st

Hello again, and welcome back to the Game Planner, the British fan’s guide to the games you don’t need to be an insomniac to watch. If this is your first time reading the planner, check out the first edition for the full explanation. For everyone else, it’s straight on to this week’s games.

Monday, May 15th

None (hence the late running of this edition!)

Tuesday, May 16th

9:07 PM – Braves @ Blue Jays – Two last-place teams offer our first watchable game of the week. While the Braves are in full-on rebuilding mode and were not expected to contend, the Jays are endeavouring to recover from a surprisingly awful start after back-to-back ALCS appearances in the previous two years. Since being 6-17 on April 28th, they’ve gone 11-4 to ensure they don’t drop completely out of the playoff race. Atlanta has the second-worst record in the league, but they also have one of the league’s most underappreciated players, the outstanding Freddie Freeman, who can make a real case for being the league’s best hitter over the past year.

Wednesday, May 17th

5:10 PM – Rays @ Indians
5:10 PM – Astros @ Marlins
8:40 PM – Mets @ Diamondbacks
8:45 PM – Dodgers @ Giants (Top Pitching Matchup) Clayton Kershaw. Johnny Cueto. One of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the game. The Giants would really love to win this series against their old rivals to continue their momentum from last week, but it doesn’t get more difficult than facing the best pitcher of this generation. Cueto isn’t half bad either, having pitched 720 innings with a 2.91 ERA since the start of 2014. Over the same timeframe, Kershaw has a 1.95 ERA.

Thursday, May 18th

5:35 PM – Nationals @ Pirates – Pirates rookie Tyler Glasnow got knocked around by the Diamondbacks last Friday, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better for him with this start against the NL’s best lineup. The 6’8″ right-hander strikes out more than a batter per inning but is also walking over 13% of all the hitters he faces and has an ERA of almost 8 as a result. The blisteringly hot Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman will be just a couple of his concerns, while Washington starter Tanner Roark should have an easier time against what has been a bottom-five lineup.
6:10 PM – Orioles @ Tigers (Free Game)
6:10 PM – Rockies @ Twins – Two surprising division leaders in interleague play, with Tyler Chatwood scheduled to face off against a player previously advertised in this feature, Jose Berrios. The 22-year-old impressed in his first start of 2017 over the weekend, with 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball. Minnesota will likely need Berrios in that kind of form to keep up their challenge in the AL Central, while the Rockies need to get more from the likes of Chatwood and his 5-plus ERA if they don’t want to severely overtax their hitherto stellar bullpen.
7:05 PM – Phillies @ Rangers
7:20 PM – Reds @ Cubs
8:40 PM – Brewers @ Padres

Friday, May 19th

7:20 PM – Brewers @ Cubs – Our regular Friday night Cubs home game features T-Rex’s Brewers, who currently still have the edge over the World Series champions in the NL Central. Offseason reclamation project Eddie Butler starts for the Cubs and will look to build on a successful first outing of six scoreless innings against St. Louis. Butler was a reasonably high-end pitching prospect who flamed out in the unfriendly confines of Coors Field. It remains to be seen whether his stuff will play better in the Friendly Confines, but there’s certainly still a ton of potential there.

Saturday, May 20th

7:10 PM – Royals @ Twins
7:20 PM – Brewers @ Cubs
9:05 PM – Red Sox @ A’s
9:05 PM – Phillies @ Pirates – It’s not certain that Aaron Nola will return from the DL in this game, but with a rehab start on Monday night, he’s lined up to take his turn for the Phillies on Saturday. A healthy Nola is fun to watch, with a diving sinker and a nasty curveball. His projected opponent, Ivan Nova, is fascinating too. The Pirates starter has taken his strike-throwing ways to the extreme, walking just four hitters all season. It’s working so far, with a 2.48 ERA to show for it.
9:10 PM – Nationals @ Braves – Yes, I have picked out the Nationals again, but Max Scherzer is one of the best two or three starters in the game and it’s hard not to recommend watching him. For very different reasons, it’s hard not to recommend watching 43-year-old Braves starter Bartolo Colon too. Colon has had a terrible start to the season, but has made some wonderfully entertaining plays over recent years.
9:10 PM – Rockies @ Reds
9:10 PM – Indians @ Astros (Free Game)
9:10 PM – Yankees @ Rays

Sunday, May 21st

6:10 PM – Rockies @ Reds
6:10 PM – Angels @ Mets
6:10 PM – Yankees @ Rays (Top Offensive Matchup) I keep picking the Yankees, but they keep hitting (they’re still first in the league offensively over the past fortnight) so until they don’t, the chances of them not featuring here are low. Finding out whether Chris Archer will be able to slow them down here will be worth the watch. The Rays aren’t as obvious a choice but they actually rate as the 6th-best lineup by wRC+; Tropicana Field is a harder place to hit than Yankee Stadium. They certainly know how to take a walk, and are led by the impressive Corey Dickerson, who’s hitting .340 with six home runs.
6:35 PM – Blue Jays @ Orioles
6:35 PM – Nationals @ Braves
6:35 PM – Phillies @ Pirates
7:10 PM – Royals @ Twins (Free Game)
7:10 PM – Indians @ Astros – Potentially a preview of a postseason series with two of the divisional favourites in the AL facing off. The Astros are streaking away with the AL West, leading the Rangers by 7 1/2 games at the time of writing. Electric Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco will try to continue his outstanding start, ranking in the top 10 in a variety of categories including ERA, K%-BB%, and WAR. He’ll have a tough challenge against Houston, who have not only hit over 50 home runs with the AL’s best batting average, but are also the second most difficult team to strike out thus far.
7:15 PM – Giants @ Cardinals
7:20 PM – Brewers @ Cubs
9:05 PM – Red Sox @ A’s – Oakland’s Andrew Triggs is one of the most unique pitchers in the majors at the moment, pitching from an extreme sidearm slot that is rarely seen from starters. While his 2.21 ERA isn’t going to hold up, there’s no doubt that it’s incredibly difficult for right-handed hitters to pick up on the ball when it comes from that angle. On the Boston side, 24-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez might be starting to live up to the potential his stuff suggests, striking out nearly 30% of hitters this year and going six innings in each of his last four starts.
9:10 PM – White Sox @ Mariners
9:10 PM – Marlins @ Dodgers

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