Watchability Rankings: Red-hot Max Scherzer is week's must-see pitcher
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 22.
All stats are through Sunday, June 21.
Two of the league's most fun teams meet at Wrigley Field this week, as Joc Pederson and the high-flying Dodgers take on Kris Bryant and the Cubs. Los Angeles holds a slim lead in the National League West over the Giants, while Chicago trails by a big margin in the NL Central (seven games behind the Cardinals) but has a one-game lead for the second Wild Card spot. The Dodgers' offense is humming, led by Pederson, a healthy Yasiel Puig and super-sub Justin Turner. But L.A.'s pitching staff, led by Clayton Kershaw in the series opener, will have a tough task in containing the bats of Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and the rest of the Cubs' imposing young lineup. This four-game set begins on Monday night and wraps up with a Thursday matinee.
Others To Watch
Braves vs. Nationals, June 23–25: As expected, Washington is on top of the NL East, albeit with some struggles, but Atlanta's success so far was harder to see coming. The Braves travel to D.C. in a showdown of division rivals.
Cubs vs. Cardinals, June 26–28: Chicago will try to make a dent in St. Louis' sizable NL Central lead this weekend in a three-game series at Busch Stadium.
Pitching Matchup To Watch: David Price vs. Danny Salazar, June 23
Do you like strikeouts? Then be sure to catch this clash of aces on Tuesday in Cleveland. Price has been throwing the best ball of his career this season, with a 2.50 ERA, 158 ERA+ and 8.1 strikeouts per nine in 97 1/3 innings. But that whiff rate, impressive as it is, can't hold a candle to Salazar. The Indians' righty has made a lot of opposing hitters look foolish this year, punching out 91 batters in 73 1/3 frames for a strikeout-per-nine rate of 11.2—the third-highest mark in all of baseball, behind only Kershaw and Chris Sale. Look for both pitchers to bring the heat in this matchup of division foes.
Player To Watch: Max Scherzer
No pitcher on earth has been better than Scherzer over the last two weeks. The Nationals' righty steamrolled the Pirates to pick up the first no-hitter of his career on Saturday and was a batter away from a perfect game before he plunked pinch-hitter Jose Tabata on the elbow with two outs in the ninth. That came on the heels of a complete-game one-hitter against the Brewers in his last start, with only a Carlos Gomez bloop single and a walk to Scooter Gennett separating Scherzer from the history books. As is, combine Scherzer's last two outings, and you get some truly astounding numbers: 18 innings, one hit, one walk, one hit batter and 26 strikeouts. Scherzer will try to keep his white-hot streak going—as well as try to become just the second player ever to pitch back-to-back no-hitters—when he faces the Phillies on Friday night.