Watchability Rankings: Cubs host Nationals in 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 May 25.
All stats are through Sunday, May 24.
No team in baseball is hotter right now than the Nationals. Washington has blitzed the National League in May, going 16–5 on the month, including four wins in five games last week. Led by Bryce Harper (a major league-best .471 on-base percentage and .728 slugging percentage this season), the Nationals will face a Cubs team that boasts a fearsome young slugger of its own in Kris Bryant. Chicago's rookie has a gaudy .391 OBP on the year, as well as five homers.
Others To Watch
Twins vs. Red Sox, May 25–27: Minnesota has been one of baseball's biggest surprises so far, sitting at second in the American League Central and 25–18 overall. The Twins will pit their high-powered offense (4.58 runs per game, fifth overall) against a Red Sox team whose pitching is finally starting to round into shape.
Pirates vs. Padres, May 28–31: Fresh off a sweep of the Mets, Pittsburgh is trying to claw its way back into the NL Central race. The Pirates will visit San Diego to try to extend what's been a slow start to the season for the Padres.
Royals vs. Cubs (May 29–31): Kansas City has the best winning percentage in all of baseball and a healthy lead in the AL Central over the Twins and Tigers. Royals pitching has been shaky, however, and K.C.'s staff will need to get it together in advance of a meeting with the hot-hitting Cubs.
Dodgers vs. Cardinals (May 29–31): A rematch of last year's NLDS, in which St. Louis downed Clayton Kershaw and Los Angeles with a series of late rallies, expect this meeting of division leaders to produce plenty of drama to end the month.
Pitching Matchup To Watch: Felix Hernandez vs. Chris Archer, May 27
Both of these names will prominently feature in this year's AL Cy Young conversation. Hernandez has been his usual dominant self this season, with a 2.19 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings. Archer, meanwhile, has 70 punchouts in 60 frames and a 2.40 ERA. The Rays' young righthander has hit a bit of a lull in May, however, with a 4.23 ERA on the month, but he gave up just one run in his last start, striking out eight in 5 1/3 innings. Hernandez has been near untouchable this month, with 27 strikeouts and just eight runs allowed in 27 innings.
Player To Watch: Andrew McCutchen
The Pirates' dynamic centerfielder got off to a brutal start this year, hitting just .194 through the month of April with only two homers. But McCutchen has looked more like his old self since the calendar flipped to May, during which he's hit .321/.411/.580. He's been especially hot this last week, with hits in four straight games and three homers in his last 20 at-bats. McCutchen and the Pirates host the Marlins for a three-game set to start the week before heading to San Diego to tangle with the Padres for four games.