Watchability Rankings: Mets vs. Nationals is week's must-see series
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 July 20.
All stats are through Sunday, July 19.
The closest race in the National League—just two games separate first-place Washington and second-place New York as of Monday in the East—may get even tighter this week, as the Mets travel to D.C. for a three-game set against the Nationals. New York is on a bit of a roll, with seven wins in its last 10 games, and most importantly, it has its rotation perfectly lined up for this week. The team's three best pitchers—Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard—will all toe the rubber for the Mets against the Nationals. Even better for New York: The team will miss Max Scherzer, who pitched Sunday. This is a golden opportunity for the Mets to trim the Nationals' lead even further, or even snatch away first place. The series begins Monday night and concludes with a Wednesday matinee between Syndergaard and Jordan Zimmermann.
Others To Watch
Pirates vs. Royals, July 20–22: Pittsburgh is in a bit of a slump after having been swept by the lowly Brewers. The Bucs need to snap out of their funk ahead of a big series with the AL Central-leading Royals.
Athletics vs. Giants, July 24–26: The Bay Area Series takes place for the first time this year as the Athletics take the short trip from Oakland to San Francisco. The A's are doing better of late, but the Giants are on fire, having won six straight games.
Pitching Matchup To Watch: Cole Hamels vs. Jake Arrieta, July 25
Could this be Hamels's final game as a member of the Phillies? The ace lefthander has been the subject of countless trade rumors leading up to this year's deadline, and there's plenty of incentive for lowly Philadelphia to deal him. Not that Hamels has helped his or his team's cause lately: In his last two starts, he's been bombed for 14 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings. He'll have a tough matchup in a hard-hitting Cubs offense and against Arrieta, who has a sterling 2.52 ERA and 148 ERA+ in 128 2/3 innings. In his last start, Arrieta stymied the Braves, shutting them out over seven innings and striking out 10.
Player To Watch: Zack Greinke
The Dodgers' righthander is on the cusp of history. With eight scoreless innings against the Nationals on Sunday, Greinke has now gone 43 2/3 straight innings without giving up a run, putting him just 15 1/3 shutout frames away from tying Orel Hershiser's major league record of 59, which was set back in 1988. And as he tries to keep that streak going, Greinke couldn't have asked for a better opponent: The punchless Mets, who are averaging just 3.45 runs per game, 29th in the majors. You can catch Greinke's pursuit of history on Friday in New York.