Madison Bumgarner will face Johnny Cueto in an ace showdown and this week's must-watch pitching matchup. What other games and players should you have your eye on for the week of May 11?
Want to know which series, pitchers and players you should try to get tickets to 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 hitters. Here are our picks for the week of May 11.
This weekend's series in Kansas City could end up being a playoff preview, with both the Yankees and Royals looking like the class of the American League so far. New York leads the AL East with a 20–12 record, while Kansas City has a slim lead on Detroit for the top spot in the AL Central. Both teams have been swinging hot bats as well, with the Royals averaging just over five runs per game, third-best in the majors, and the Yankees not far behind at 4.66 runs per contest. Expect a lot of offense in this three-game set, with games on Friday and Saturday night before a Sunday matinee to wrap it up.
Others To Watch
Mets vs. Cubs, May 11–14: Two of the National League's surprise contenders will clash in Wrigley Field, as New York's superb young pitching staff will try to slow down Chicago's impressive lineup and talented rookie sluggers.
Nationals vs. Padres, May 14–17: Offense may be hard to come by in this weekend series in San Diego, but it's hard to turn down a chance to watch Washington's fearsome rotation go up against the likes of sluggers Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers.
Two aces who will likely find themselves in the thick of the NL Cy Young race square off in Cincinnati on Friday in what promises to be a tightly contested pitchers' duel. Bumgarner was roughed up a bit in his last start, giving up three earned runs in five innings, but the lefty did strike out 10 and, over his last three outings, has whiffed 25 in 20 1/3 frames. Cueto, meanwhile, has been brilliant all season. He leads the NL with 51 1/3 innings pitched and sports a strong 2.98 ERA so far. Last week, he went 8 1/3 against the White Sox, giving up four runs and striking out seven in a Reds win.
Others To Watch
Noah Syndergaard vs. Jake Arrieta, May 12: The Mets' vaunted young pitching prospect makes his major league debut in historic Wrigley Field, but he's got no easy task in front of him, as he'll have to contend with the likes of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and the rest of the Cubs' excellent lineup. Opposite him will be Arrieta, who is averaging just over nine strikeouts per nine as he tries to build on his impressive breakout 2014.
Gerrit Cole vs. Jon Lester, May 16: It'll be ace vs. ace in Chicago, where the Pirates' No. 1 will take on the Cubs' No. 1. After a rough start to the season, Lester is finally putting together the kind of outings Chicago was expecting when it signed him to a $155 million deal this off-season. In his last two starts, the lefty has allowed just four runs, one earned, in 14 innings, striking out 10. He'll face Cole, who has a spectacular 2.27 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings.
Player To Watch: Bryce Harper
There's no player on earth hotter than Harper right now. Last week, the Nationals' slugger bashed six homers, all in a three-game span, including a walk-off blast against the Braves on May 9. On the year, Harper is now hitting a scorching .300/.435/.655 and is second in the league in home runs with 11. He'll take a trip out west this week, with three games in Arizona and a four-game set in San Diego.