A pitching-rich matchup between the Mets and Dodgers, including a duel between Clayton Kershaw and Noah Syndergaard, highlights this week's must-see games in MLB.
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 29.
All stats are through Sunday, June 28.
Pitching, pitching and more pitching: That's what you'll get with this weekend tilt between the Dodgers and Mets, as New York's prized stable of young arms faces Los Angeles' pair of aces out west. The Mets are hot right now, winners of five straight and just 2 1/2 games behind the Nationals in the NL East. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have a slim one-game lead in the NL West over the rival Giants. Can New York topple the mighty duo of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke? The Mets hope youth can lead them, with Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and rookie sensation Steven Matz set to take the hill at Dodger Stadium. This three-game set begins Friday night with a duel between Syndergaard and Kershaw, continues on Independence Day with an evening game and wraps up on Sunday with an afternoon matchup.
Others To Watch
Rangers vs. Orioles, June 29–July 2: Baltimore is the American League's hottest team, riding a four-game win streak to the top of the AL East. The O's will host a Rangers team that has fallen into a slump lately but is still one of the league's most dangerous squads at the plate.
Royals vs. Astros, June 29–July 1: Kansas City is running away with the AL Central, holding a 5 1/2-game lead over the Twins as play begins on Monday. The Royals will try to widen that gap when they take on a fellow division leader in Houston, which enjoys a four-game advantage over the Angels out west.
Pirates vs. Tigers, June 30–July 2: MVP candidates Miguel Cabrera and Andrew McCutchen lead two teams scrapping for playoff position, including a matchup between NL Cy Young contender Gerrit Cole and veteran Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
Giants vs. Nationals, July 3–5: The defending world champions head to D.C. for a rematch of last year's NLDS, which saw San Francisco edge Washington in four games, as the Nationals look to get revenge for last October's early ouster.
Pitching Matchup To Watch: Noah Syndergaard vs. Clayton Kershaw, July 3
Mets fans will have no shortage of great matchups this week, also getting a game on Wednesday featuring Jacob deGrom going head to head with the Cubs' Jake Arrieta, but the clash of Syndergaard and Kershaw promises to be a special one. New York's rookie flamethrower was brilliant in his last outing, as he outdueled Reds ace Johnny Cueto to hold the Reds to one run in eight innings while striking out five. His next task won't be any easier: defeating defending NL Cy Young Kershaw, who has slipped slightly from last year's incredible numbers but still has a strong 3.20 ERA and an NL-best 11.8 strikeouts per nine.
Player To Watch: Nolan Arenado
A burgeoning star in the league, Arenado went supernova over the last week: In six games, the Rockies' third baseman belted seven homers and drove in 14 runs, hitting an astonishing .391/.440/1.348 in his last 25 plate appearances. For the month of June, the 24-year-old now has a 1.074 OPS, raising his season line to an excellent .293/.326/.632 to go with his usual Gold Glove-caliber defense at the hot corner. This week, Arenado will take his show on the road, as the Rockies head to Oakland for three games against the Athletics before traveling to Arizona for a four-game set against the division rival Diamondbacks.