Watchability Rankings: Scherzer, Tanaka duel in week's best matchup
Want to know which series, pitchers and players you should try to get tickets to see this week? SI.com's Watchability Rankings will give you the lowdown on the must-see games for the week ahead, including the best pitching matchup and the hottest hitter. Here are our picks for the week of June 8.
All stats are through Sunday, June 7.
An unexpected battle for first place leads this week's Watchability Rankings. The Royals are proving that last year was no fluke, with a .574 winning percentage that is third best in the American League. But the true surprise in baseball right now is the team just ahead of Kansas City in the AL Central: The Twins. Minnesota's .589 winning percentage is the second-highest mark in the game, behind only the Cardinals, and the team's 33 wins trail only the Astros in the AL. Holding a slim one-game lead in the division, the Twins will host the Royals in a three-game set.
Others To Watch
Nationals vs. Yankees, June 9–10: No team is hotter right now than the Yankees, who have ripped off six straight wins and are atop the AL East. They'll welcome Bryce Harper and the NL East-leading Nationals into the Bronx for a short two-game series featuring a Wednesday matinee.
Royals vs. Cardinals, June 12–14: Part two of the I-70 Series takes part this weekend. Back in late May, the Royals took two of three from the Cardinals in the first matchup of these intra-state rivals. St. Louis will look for some revenge when it hosts Kansas City for a three-game set at Busch Stadium.
Dodgers vs. Padres, June 12–14: San Diego has started to come alive a little bit lately, trailing the Dodgers by just 3 1/2 games in the NL West. The Padres can cut into that margin substantially when they host Los Angeles for three games this weekend.
Blue Jays vs. Red Sox, June 12–14: The Blue Jays are on a roll, with five straight wins to pull themselves to within two games of .500. They'll travel to Boston to take on a Red Sox team coming off a much-needed sweep of the Athletics in a crucial AL East showdown.
Pitching Matchup To Watch: Max Scherzer vs. Masahiro Tanaka, June 9
It's ace versus ace in this Tuesday night duel between Scherzer and Tanaka. The Nationals' righthander has been electric in his first season in D.C.—he's tied with Dallas Keuchel for the majors' second-best ERA (1.85), is fourth in the NL in strikeouts per nine (10.4) and is third in baseball in ERA+ (210). Tanaka, meanwhile, came off the disabled list last week and dominated the Mariners in Seattle, striking out nine and allowing just one run over seven innings.
Player To Watch: Jose Bautista
Bautista finished a red-hot week (.391/.500/.913) with a flourish, homering twice and driving in three to help the Blue Jays finish a sweep of the Astros. Bautista is up to 11 homers on the year and a stellar .936 OPS, putting an early-season shoulder injury behind him. He and Toronto will finish a homestand with three against the Marlins to start the week before heading to Fenway Park to face the Red Sox. Expect a lot of offense from Bautista in Boston: He has a career 1.035 OPS and 21 homers there.