Opening weekend was jammed pack with plenty of fun and fantastic baseball. Throughout the season, I’ll be doing both weekday and weekend series previews to help people figure out what they want to watch around the league. With the Nationals likely to struggle, this is the place to find what other games to watch and how to watch them.
We’ve got a handful of weekend series finishing up on Monday which includes CLE/KC, PIT/STL, and SEA/MIN before those 6 teams start new series on Tuesday. Below I’ve highlight three “big” series to watch, with the first one including our home team Nationals.
Three Series to Watch
Nationals (1-3) at Braves (2-2)
Monday, 7:20 (MASN): TBD vs Huascar Ynoa
Tuesday, 7:20 (MASN): TBD vs TBD
Wednesday, 12:20 (MASN): TBD vs Max Fried (0-1, 7.94)
The Nationals avoided the home sweep on Opening Weekend as they safety squeezed their way to a 4-2 victory over the New York Mets on Sunday afternoon. The Braves split their home opening series to the rebuilding Reds, with their two wins on Friday and Saturday sandwiched by identical 6-3 losses on Thursday and Sunday.
The Nationals have yet to announce their starting pitchers for this series, but with Anibal Sanchez not quite ready to return from a minor injury, Josh Rogers is expected to get the call on Monday night against Huascar Ynoa, who will be making his first start of the season. Patrick Corbin should be pitching Tuesday on normal rest, while the Braves are opting to have Max Fried pitch on an extra day’s rest on Wednesday. So the Braves starter for Tuesday is still TBD while the Nationals will likely counter Fried with Josiah Gray. Both Corbin and Gray had decent season debuts before struggling in the 5th inning, with neither able to record an out in the 5th inning so the Nats will hope that both pitchers are able to build off those starts and extend their outings through the 5th inning and beyond.
Max Fried is coming in to this season with high expectations after a fantastic second half last year, but the Reds tagged Fried for 5 earned runs through 5.2 innings on Opening Day. This was accomplished by stringing together singles, as the only extra base the Reds had occurred immediately after Fried left the game with two men on. The young lefty ace for the defending World Champions will be looking to bounce back against a struggling Nats lineup.
After starting the season 1-45 with 20 strikeouts, the Nats’ 6-9 hitters finally got some production in the 8th inning when Yadiel Hernandez and Maikel Franco were able to get back-to-back hits before Lucius Fox was able to execute a perfect safety squeeze to tie the game. For the Braves new first basemen Matt Olsen has gotten off to a red hot start, going 8-14 with 3 extra base hits including his first Braves home run on Sunday. Postseason hero Rosario and All Star 2B Ozzie Albies have had slow starts and should be fine, but new DH Alex Dickerson has been a black hole in the Braves lineup, starting the season 0-9.
The Braves should be able to sweep the Nationals with relative ease, but I have a feeling the Nats will find a way to pull one win off before heading to Pittsburgh for a 4-game series.
Blue Jays (2-1) at Yankees (2-1)
Monday, 7:05: Alek Manoah vs Jameson Taillon
Tuesday, 7:05: Yusei Kikuchi vs Nestor Cortes
Wednesday, 7:05 (MLB Network): Jose Berrios (0-0, 108.00) vs Gerrit Cole (0-0, 6.75)
Thursday, 7:05 (MLB Network): Kevin Gausman (0-0, 5.40) vs Luis Severino (0-0, 6.00)
The Blue Jays opened up the season at home against the new look Texas Rangers and it might’ve been the best series to watch of the weekend. Down 7-0 through 3.5 innings on Friday, the Blue Jays stormed back to beat the Rangers 10-8. On Saturday they came from behind again, albeit this time from just a 3-2 deficit to win 4-3, before racing out to a 6-1 lead on Sunday afternoon that they’d quickly relinquish and lose 12-6. The Yankees on the hand opened up against their hated rivals, the Red Sox, and won the first two games of the series before losing on Sunday Night Baseball, 4-3.
Alek Manoah will look to build on a successful rookie season as he will get the ball in Monday’s opener against Jameson Taillon before both team’s turn to their #5 starters. The games on Wednesday and Thursday, which will be nationally broadcast on MLB Network, features the most intriguing pitching matchups. Jose Berrios got the nod on Opening Day for the Blue Jays and the ERA above is not a typo. He only got one out and gave up 4 runs before getting the hook. Gerrit Cole likewise had a disappointing Opening Day start going 4 innings and giving up 3 runs while recording just 3 strikeouts. Both pitchers are expected to be their team’s aces and their price tags support that expectation. Which one will bounce back on Wednesday? The fourth game of the series will feature big free agent signing Kevin Gausman for the Jays and the recently oft-injured Luis Severino, who dazzled at times in his first start.
The Yankees have gotten good early production out of the top of their order, with new acquisition Josh Donaldson hitting .267 and getting the walk-off winner on Opening Day and pending free agent Aaron Judge hitting .308. But it’s been normally infamous slow starter Giancarlo Stanton who has surprised by hitting .385 with 2 home runs. The Yankees will be very successful if those three guys and Anthony Rizzo continue to produce. On the flip side, Joey Gallo continues to look lost at the plate and new SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa is hitting .091. Their stellar defense will only keep the fans off their backs for so long, and I won’t be surprised if you hear some boos when those two come to the plate.
The Blue Jays three-headed monster of Springer, Bichette, and Vladdy have gotten off to great starts, with each hitting over .300 and each having a home run over the first three games. In fact, 5 of their top 6 have home runs while their number 9 hitter, catcher Danny Jansen has 2. Their seven home runs over 3 games puts them on pace for 378, which would shatter the Twins 2019 record of 307. The entire lineup 1-9 can go yard and are a blast to watch.
This should be the most fun series to watch this week. Both teams will be happy with a split in this four game series and I expect that to be the result.
Mets (3-1) at Phillies (2-1)
Monday, 6:45 (FS1): Taijuan Walker vs Ranger Suarez
Tuesday, 6:45 (MLB Network): Tylor Megill (1-0, 0.00) vs Zack Wheeler (0-0, 0.00)
Wednesday, 1:05 : Max Scherzer (1-0, 4.50) vs Aaron Nola (1-0, 6.00)
Both the Phillies and Mets had favorable match-ups to start the year, with the Mets traveling to DC and the Phillies hosting the cash-strapped Oakland A’s. Both were going for series sweeps on Sunday but couldn’t get the job done. The Mets struggled against the Nats’ bullpen and allowed 3 runs in the 8th inning to lose 4-2, while the Phillies highly-touted new lineup was stifled by Daulton Jefferies and the A’s bullpen until the 9th inning when they finally scored.
Taijuan Walker and Ranger Suarez will make their season debuts Monday on FS1 at 6:45, with the latter hoping to build on a dominant finish to the 2021 season where he went 3-2 with a 1.51 ERA in 12 starts with 65 strikeouts. Tylor Megill continues to fill in for Jacob deGrom and surprised many when his fastball velocity was up near 98 on Opening Day against the Nationals. Zack Wheeler was the NL’s 2021 Cy Young runner-up and will be making his season debut against Megill on Tuesday. Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola will be piling up strikeouts in the series finale, as both try to limit the runs given up and avoid results similar to their first starts (though both of them won those starts so…).
The Phillies have already gotten home runs out of new free agent signings Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos, but those were basically the pair’s only highlights on Opening Weekend. The reigning MVP Bryce Harper went 1-11 with only 1 walk in the series, so the Phillies should be ecstatic that they won the series with that kind of production from their star, who normally starts seasons off really hot (he’s a .297 career hitter in March/April, better than any other month). Meanwhile Pete Alonso hit a grand slam on Saturday for the Nats before going 0-4 with a game-changing error in the finale on Sunday. But the most impressive hitters for the Mets have been at the bottom or their order in Mark Canha and Jeff McNeil. The former is hitting .700 and seeing tons of pitches while the latter is 7 for 16 with 2 walks and providing defense at a number of positions for the Mets. Those two producing in the bottom half of the Mets order will go a long way in their hopes for a division title.
The Phillies are at home and I think they take 2 of the 3 from the traveling Mets, with New York’s lone win coming Wednesday behind Max Scherzer.
Brewers at Orioles
The Orioles had a rough start to the season as expected, getting swept by the defending AL East Champion Tampa Rays in three straight games at the Trop. The Brewers also had a disappointing Opening Weekend, dropping 2 of 3 at Chicago but avoiding the sweep with a 5-4 win on Sunday. Corbin Burnes was not quite his stellar start and will be looking to bounce back against the O’s on Wednesday. All three games should be available on MASN. Monday’s game will be at 3:05 due to it being the O’s home opener, while Tuesday and Wednesday night’s games will be at the normal 7:05 starts.
Rockies at Rangers
The Rockies took 2 of 3 from the Dodgers on Opening Weekend and now travel to Texas to take on the Rangers who had an entertaining opening series north of the border. The first game of the series will be at 4:05 on Monday due to the fact that it is the Rangers’ home opener. The second game will be at 8:05 on Tuesday before both teams get Wednesday off.
Red Sox at Tigers
Both teams started their season facing off against bitter rivals and both lost 2 of 3 against those bitter rivals. Michael Wacha and Rich Hill will make their Red Sox debuts, while former Red Sock Eduardo Rodriguez will face his former team on Wednesday for the Tigers. All three of these games will be played during the afternoon, with Monday’s game at 5:10 and Tuesday’s game at 1:10. Wednesday’s game at 1:10 will be available to stream on ESPN+.
Athletics at Rays
The Rays are the only undefeated team left in the majors, and could be 7-0 by the time I do my weekend preview on Friday. They host the Oakland A’s for four games this week with the first 3 games being played at 6:40 before an afternoon finale on Thursday at 1:10.
Marlins at Angels
The Miami Marlins continue their West Coast road trip to start the season with a 2 game series at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. After dropping 2 of 3 close ones in San Francisco, the Marlins will be hopeful they can at least get a split from the 1-3 Angels. Both Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout have gotten off to slow starts this season, but that won’t last long.
Padres at Giants
The San Diego Padres had outstanding pitching in their first series against the Diamondbacks, while the Giants likewise had great pitching against the Marlins. All three games will be on National TV. Monday’s game will be at 9:45 on MLB Network., Tuesday’s game will be at 9:45 on TBS., and Wednesday’s finale will be at 3:45 on MLB Network.
Guardians at Reds (starts Tuesday)
The Guardians finish up their series with the Royals on Monday before heading to the 2-2 Reds on Tuesday for a short 2-game series. Shane Bieber and Tristan McKenzie will face Joey Votto and the rebuilding Reds. Tuesday game will be at 4:10 and Wednesday’s game will be at 12:35 on MLB Network.
Mariners at White Sox (starts Tuesday)
The White Sox have Monday off after winning their series against the Tigers while the Mariners finish up their road series in Minnesota. Former Phillie Vince Velasquez will start for the White Sox on Tuesday, while Dallas Keuchel pitches on Wednesday. Lucas Giolito is expected to miss a start or two, so the White Sox have yet to announce Thursday’s pitcher who will likely face Logan Gilbert. 2021 AL Cy Young Winner Robbie Ray was fantastic in his Opening Day start and will likely get the nod on Wednesday. Tuesday’s game at 4:10 will be available to stream on ESPN+. Wednesday’s game will be at 7:10 while the series finale will get underway on Thursday at 2:10.
Cubs at Pirates (starts Tuesday)
The Cubs have Monday off while the Pirates finish their series against the St. Louis Cardinals. It’ll be a short two game series as the Pirates then host the Nationals over the weekend. Tuesday’s game will be at 4:12 while Wednesday’s will be at 12:35.
Dodgers vs Twins (starts Tuesday)
The Dodgers have Monday off as the Twins finish their Opening Series with the Mariners. Andrew Heaney is expected to make his Dodgers debut opposite Chris Archer of the Twins on Tuesday at 7:40, while Clayton Kershaw will make his season debut Wednesday afternoon at 1:10 against familiar foe Chris Paddack.
Royals at Cardinals (starts Tuesday)
Another in-state interleague rivalry gets underway Tuesday after both teams finish up their Opening Series on Monday. It’s yet another short 2-game series in a week full of them across MLB, as fireballer Jordan Hicks makes his starting pitching debut for the Cardinals on Tuesday against rookie phenom Bobby Witt Jr. and the Kansas City Royals. Tuesday’s game will be at 7:45 while Wednesday’s game will be at 1:15.