Watchability Rankings: Astros face Rangers 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 Sept. 14.
All stats and standings are through Sunday, Sept. 13.
The American League West is on the line as these two surprise contenders meet in Arlington for a crucial four-game series. The Astros have been baseball's unlikeliest division leader this season, holding onto the West for most of the year, but a rough month of September (4–7) has them just 1 1/2 games up on the Rangers for first place. Texas, meanwhile, has been on fire since the All-Star break, going 33–21 in the second half to get closer and closer to Houston in the division. If the Astros can win or sweep the series, they'll end the Rangers' division hopes and maybe even their playoff chances. If Texas can gain the upper hand, however, Houston will face a nail-biting final two weeks of the season to hang on to a postseason spot. It all kicks off Monday night at Globe Life Park, wrapping up Thursday night.
Others To Watch
Royals vs. Indians, Sept. 14–17: Cleveland is just 3 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot in the AL but has to contend with a Kansas City team that, while slumping lately, still leads the league in wins.
Cubs vs. Pirates, Sept. 15–17: Chicago trails Pittsburgh by four games for NL's top wild-card position but has seven games left against the Pirates to make up that ground, starting with this week's four-game set in the Steel City, including a doubleheader on Tuesday.
Pitching Matchup To Watch: Dallas Keuchel vs. Derek Holland, Sept. 16
The favorite for the AL Cy Young award, Keuchel has been the rock of the Astros' rotation. The lefty leads the majors in innings with 206 2/3 and the AL in ERA (2.22) and ERA+ (183) and is striking out a career-best 8.4 batters per nine. He'll have his work cut out for him not only against a tough Rangers lineup, but also against Holland. The fellow southpaw has been brilliant for Texas since coming off the disabled list a month ago, with a 3.13 ERA in 37 1/3 innings over six starts.
Hitter To Watch: David Ortiz
The ageless slugger made history over the weekend by cracking his 500th career homer, capping off a week in which he hit .444/.545/1.111 with three homers and nine RBIs. Unfortunately for Ortiz, his Red Sox are out of the playoff picture, but he can help them play spoiler down the stretch: After facing the Orioles, Boston will take on the division-leading Blue Jays in a weekend set. Expect Big Papi to keep adding to his growing homer total.