Mike Trout and the Angels face the Astros in a crucial AL West clash this week. What other games and players should you make sure to catch?
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 27.
All stats are through Sunday, July 26.
Last year's AL West champion takes on the league's most surprising contender in this week's must-see series, as the Angels and Astros clash in Houston. Los Angeles has been strong of late, winning seven of its last 10 games. But the Angels still have just a one-game cushion in the division over Houston, which just picked up veteran starter Scott Kazmir for the stretch run. Luckily for the Angels, they'll miss Dallas Keuchel, who pitched on Sunday, and they also have Mike Trout, who has been utterly unstoppable in the second half. The AL MVP has hit .343/.410/.800 since the All-Star break with five home runs in nine games, including Sunday's two-homer, five-RBI outburst against the Rangers. With Trout on their side, the Angels will be tough to beat in the West, but the Astros will give it their best shot this week.
Others To Watch
Tigers vs. Rays (July 27–29): David Price returns to Tampa Bay to face his old team, but could it be his last start in a Tigers uniform as well? Detroit is 11 1/2 games back in the AL Central and four out in the Wild Card, and if the team can't make up some ground in this series against the Rays, the Tigers could sell before this week's trade deadline.
Pirates vs. Twins (July 28–30): Pittsburgh has a comfortable three-game lead in the NL Wild Card race, while Minnesota is trying to hold off Toronto for the AL's second Wild Card spot. Each contender will try to solidify their position in this three-game set.
Nationals vs. Mets (July 31–Aug. 2): Washington took two of three from New York last week, including a come-from-behind rally in the eighth inning of the third game to win the series. The Nationals' NL East lead is a mere two games, however, so they can't afford to slip in this weekend tilt with the Mets.
It's been a lost season for the Marlins, but Miami has to be happy with the return of Fernandez, who has shown no signs of rust in his return from Tommy John surgery. The righthander has a 2.77 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 26 innings, walking just three, and was terrific in his most recent start, striking out 11 hitters over seven innings against the Diamondbacks. He'll need to be on his A game against Zimmermann, who stymied the Mets in his last start (7 IP, 3 ER, 6 K) and has a strong 3.30 ERA on the season.
Player To Watch: Carlos Gonzalez
Welcome back, CarGo. After a brutally slow start to the season—Gonzalez was hitting just .259/.314/.452 in the first half—the Venezuelan outfielder has erupted since the All-Star break. In 31 second-half plate appearances, Gonzalez is hitting a scorching .393/.452/.964 with six homers, and on Sunday, he capped a stupendous week by going deep twice against the Reds, driving in six in Colorado's 17–7 rout. The Rockies may try to take advantage of Gonzalez's hot streak and move him ahead of the trade deadline, but assuming he stays put, you can catch him against the Cubs and Cardinals this week.