We are now over a week into the 2022 MLB season . 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 three weekday series that are finishing up Thursday night which includes OAK/TB, SEA/CHIW, and TOR/NYY before those 6 teams start new series on Friday. Below I’ve highlight three “big” series to watch, and a fourth that includes our home team Nationals. Friday is Jackie Robinson Day across baseball, which means every player on every single team will be wearing the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, the first player to break the color barrier in MLB. He did so on April 15th, 1947, which is why we celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on April 15th.
Four Series to Watch
Nationals (3-5) at Pirates (3-3)
Thursday, 6:35 (MASN): RHP Joan Adon (0-1, 8.31) vs RHP JT Brubaker (0-1, 12.00)- Pirates win 9-4
Friday, 6:35 (MASN): RHP Erick Fedde (0-0, 3.60) vs RHP Mitch Keller (0-1, 9.00)
Saturday, 6:35 (MASN): LHP Josh Rogers (1-0, 1.69) vs RHP Bryse Wilson (0-0, 6.75)
Sunday, 1:35 (MASN): LHP Patrick Corbin (0-2, 10.80) vs LHP Jose Quintana (0-1, 1.69)
The Nationals won a surprising road series over the defending World Series Champion Atlanta Braves during the week to find themselves near .500. The Pirates had lost their Opening Weekend series to the Cardinals and splitting a short 2-game series with the Cubs at home during the week. On Thursday night, this series began with the Nationals scoring 3 runs in the top of the 1st and looking to continue their solid play. Unfortunately, JT Brubaker of the Pirates settled down after that, and Joan Adon struggled before the bullpen entered and gave up a few more runs. The Pirates bullpen gave up nothing and ended up winning handily 9-4. Nationals pitchers gave up 14 hits and allowed 8 walks in the loss.
Erick Fedde will take the mound on Friday night in hopes of evening the series. He’ll face Mitch Keller before the Nats turn to their pair of lefties in Josh Rogers and Patrick Corbin for Saturday and Sunday’s match-ups, while the Pirates will counter with former Braves prospect Bryse Wilson on Saturday and journeyman pitcher Jose Quintana on Sunday. Patrick Corbin’s struggles have continued into this season, and on Wednesday following his latest start, Ryan wrote about how his high release point could be the key component in his struggles since 2019. Josh Rogers, on the other hand, is coming off a fantastic start against the Braves in which he pitched 5.1 innings and only gave up 1 run on 2 hits and 2 walks.
Dee Strange-Gordon, who was slated to start in center field for the Nats on Thursday night, was a late scratch from the lineup for unknown reasons. The Nats have called up outfielder Donovan Casey from Triple-A Rochester to replace him. Casey is a semi-talented outfielder but there are major swing-and-miss concerns. We’ll see how many ABs he gets as Lane Thomas and Victor Robles have had slow starts to the season. Josh Bell reached base twice on Thursday but unfortunately failed to get a hit, resulting in his 7-game hit streak being snapped. Other bright spots from Thursday’s game includes Cesar Hernandez leading off the game with a walk, which means he’s led each of the last four games off with reaching base. Keibert Ruiz got back in the hit column by going 2-5 while leading all catchers in MLB on the young season with 8 hits. Yadiel Hernandez went 3-4 with 2 RBIs in the 6-hole, and should continue to start against righties.
The Pirates lineup is anchored by the two guys who just got big extensions in center fielder Bryan Reynolds and third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. Hayes has started this season off hot, but the Nats held him hitless on Thursday. Reynolds, hitting in the 2 spot ahead of Hayes, was a much bigger threat in that game and went 2-3 with a home run. The rest of the Pirates lineup is filled out with mediocre hitters, which makes that 9-4 scoreline on Thursday night all the more damning. Former Mariner and Brewer Dan Vogelbach went 4-6 for the Bucs and was a triple shy of the cycle, while 2B Cole Tucker went 3-5 with a triple. But if the Nats can contain both Reynolds and Hayes for the rest of the series, they’ll still have a very good chance at a split at the very least.
Rays (4-3) at White Sox (4-2)
Friday, 7:10 (AppleTV+): RHP Drew Rasmussen (0-0, 4.50) vs RHP Dylan Cease (1-0, 1.80)
Saturday, 2:10: RHP Corey Kluber (0-0, 0.00) vs RHP Michael Kopech (0-0, 2.25)
Sunday, 2:10: TBD vs RHP Vince Velasquez (0-0, 2.25)
The Rays were the last undefeated team in the Majors following the conclusion of Opening Weekend, but then the Oakland A’s and their last ranked payroll came to town and took 3 of 4 from the defending AL East Champions at Tropicana. The defending AL Central Champion White Sox have started the season with back-to-back series wins by taking two of three from the Tigers and Mariners respectively.
On Friday and Saturday, the White Sox are going with their young fireballers in Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech, each of whom had good starts in their season debuts. The Rays will counter with Drew Rasmussen on Friday night, then go with former 2-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber on Saturday. Kluber made his season debut last Sunday against the Orioles, and pitched 4.2 scoreless innings in an 8-0 win. He did walk 4 and throw 87 pitches in those 4.2 innings, so he’ll be looking to be more efficient this weekend and pitch a little deeper into the game. On Sunday, the White Sox turn to journeyman righty Vince Velasquez, who impressed in his first start. The Rays haven’t announced their pitcher for Sunday, as Luis Patino would’ve been in line for the start but was placed on the 60-day IL for an oblique strain.
Tim Anderson and Luis Robert are lethal hitters atop the White Sox lineup, even with the early struggles of big boppers Jose Abreu, Yasmani Grandal, and Eloy Jimenez. Tim Anderson is already hitting .471 with a homer on the year, while Robert is down to .292 with 2 homers after an 0-4 showing on Thursday in the finale against the Mariners. The two big bats in the Rays lineup is SS Wander Franco, who is hitting .379 on the young season, and power hitting 2B Brandon Lowe, who is hitting .296 with 3 home runs already. They’ll need more production out of catcher Mike Zunino (.071 on the year) and outfielder Randy Arozarea (.192 on the year) if they want to get their offense back on track.
With the Rays pitching struggling in four games against the A’s, I really like the White Sox in this series and I think they take two of three at home.
Braves (3-5) at Padres (5-3)
Thursday, 8:10: RHP Charlie Morton (1-0, 3.38) vs RHP Joe Musgrove (0-0, 3.00)- Padres win 12-1
Friday, 9:40 : RHP Kyle Wright (1-0, 0.00) vs LHP MacKenzie Gore (0-0, 0.00)
Saturday, 4:05 (FS1): RHP Ian Anderson (0-1, 16.88) vs RHP Nick Martinez (0-0, 1.80)
Sunday, 7:08 (ESPN): RHP Huascar Ynoa (0-1, 15.00) vs RHP Yu Darvish (0-1, 10.57)
As Ryan so eloquently stated on the latest episode of the Half Street High Heat podcast, the early season Braves are the gift that keeps on giving. They split their Opening Weekend series with the Reds before losing two of three at home to the Nationals. Then they head west and get thumped in the first game of this series to the Padres 12-1. The Padres have started the season with some dazzling pitching performance and won their Opening Weekend series against the Diamondbacks by taking three of four. They then went to San Francisco and dropped two of three. With last night’s win in the first game of this series, the Padres are 5-3 on the year and looking for an emphatic early season series win over the defending champions.
With Blake Snell heading to the IL, the Padres have called up their top pitching prospect in MacKensie Gore to make his Major League debut Friday night, facing fellow youngster Kyle Wright, who pitched 6 scoreless innings against the Reds last weekend. The Braves will finish out the series with Ian Anderson and Huascar Ynoa, both of whom were roughed up badly in their first starts of the year. Nick Martinez will face Anderson on Saturday, while ace Yu Darvish will get the nod on Sunday on ESPN. Darvish is already making his third start of the year, and he’s had a mixed bag already. On Opening Day he had a no hitter through six before getting pulled, then gave up 9 runs in 1.2 innings against the Giants five days later. So the Padres success in the Sunday night game rides on which Yu Darvish shows up.
The Braves are getting good production from the 1-5 hitters, but postseason hero Eddie Rosario and new DH Alex Dickerson are both playing terribly, with averages under .100 on the young season. Dansby Swanson isn’t hitting much either at .143, so the Braves need to see improvement out of the bottom of their order. We mentioned the Padres’ top pitching prospect MacKensie Gore making his debut Friday night, but their top hitting prospect, SS CJ Abrams, has been on the team all season. He hit his first career home run on Thursday night, and will look to build off that moving forward. Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer are both red hot, coming off 5-6 and 4-5 nights, respectively.
The early season Braves are going to struggle a bit but they’ll be fine in the long term. I think the Padres take 3 of 4 here.
Astros (4-2) at Mariners (3-4)
Friday, 9:42: RHP Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 4.50) vs LHP Marco Gonzales (0-1, 9.00)
Saturday 9:10: RHP Justin Verlander (0-1, 1.80) vs RHP Chris Flexen (0-1, 6.23)
Sunday, 4:10 (MLB Network): RHP Jose Urquidy (1-0, 1.80) vs RHP Matt Brash (0-1, 3.38)
The Astros started off the season strong by taking three of four from Shoehei Ohtani and the Angels in Anaheim. They then split a quick 2-game interleague series with the Diamondbacks and now their 9-game road trip to start the season continues with a trip to the Pacific Northwest. The Mariners split a 4-game series at Minnesota before dropping two of three to the White Sox in Chicago. They host the Astros in their home opener on Friday night at T-Mobile Park.
The starting pitching match-ups seem to favor the Astros on paper, with Justin Verlander’s return potentially a massive impact for the Astros over the course of this season. On the other side, Marco Gonzales and Chris Flexen are coming off less than impressive starts, while rookie Matt Brash looked really good against the White Sox until he gave up a home run in the 6th to Luis Robert to finish his day with 5.1 innings and just 2 earned runs given up.
A big reason why the Mariners are 3-4 right out of the gate is that their lineup is not hitting. Mitch Haniger, Adam Frazier, Jesse Winker, and Eugenio Suarez are all hitting under .200. Young phenoms Julio Rodriguez and Jared Kelenic are hitting .095 and .158 respectively. Only SS JP Crawford seems to be producing offensively for the M’s by hitting .417. The Astros on the other hand are getting good early season production out of Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman, though Kyle Tucker and Jose Altuve are both hitting under .200.
Despite how it may look on paper, it’s very early in the season and anything can happen. Each of these pitchers have only made a single start prior to this series and I think the Mariners could take two of three at home against the Astros.
Cardinals at Brewers (started Thursday)
The Brewers took two of three from Baltimore after losing their Opening Series in Chicago to start the year, and now they return home for the first time this year to host the St. Louis Cardinals in a four-game set. The Cardinals were off Wednesday after their second game against the Royals was postponed, so they’ve only played and won a single game during the week before starting this series with a 5-1 loss to Brandon Woodruff and the Brew Crew. The game on Saturday will be available on MLB Network at 7:10. Sunday’s game will be available on ESPN+.
Phillies at Marlins (started Thursday)
The lost a tough home divisional series to the Mets during the week, while the Marlins concluded a tough West Coast road trip to start the year by losing both games in Anaheim. They now return home for the first time in 2022 and host the Phillies for a four-game set this weekend. The first game featured ace Sandy Alcantara earning his first win of the year as Miami held on to win Thursday by a score of 4-3.
Angels at Rangers (started Thursday)
The Rangers had Wednesday off after being swept in a short 2-game interleague series versus the Colorado Rockies on Monday and Tuesday. The Angels took care of business with two wins over the visiting Marlins following their series loss to the Houston Astros on Opening Weekend. This is a four game series with the Rangers beating up on Shohei Ohtani in the first game Thursday night and taking a 10-5 victory.
Tigers at Royals (started Thursday)
The Tigers lost two of three tough games to the visiting Boston Red Sox during the week, and have now started the season by losing back-to-back home series. The Royals, on the other hand, split their opening series hosting Cleveland before losing on Tuesday at the Cardinals. Their second game in St. Louis was postponed due to weather, so they headed back home to host the Tigers in a 4-game divisional series. Detroit took the first game on Thursday night by a score of 4-2.
Cubs at Rockies (started Thursday)
The Cubs split a short 2-game series with the Pirates midweek, while the Rockies had Wednesday off following an interleague sweep of the Texas Rangers on Monday and Tuesday. This will be a four game series with the Cubs taking the first game on Thursday night by a score of 5-2.
Reds at Dodgers (started Thursday)
The Dodgers are back home Thursday following their quick 2-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins, and while the Reds were swept by the Guardians in an in-state and interleague matchup midweek. Friday’s Jackie Robinson Day game will be at 10:10 for free on AppleTV. This will be a four game series and the Dodgers won the first one on Thursday 9-3 thanks to a 6-run 8th inning. The Friday night Jackie Robinson Day game will be at 10:10 on AppleTV+. Saturday’s game will be on MLB Network at 10:10.
Diamondbacks at Mets
The New York Mets got the day off Thursday after winning another division series to start the year as they took of three on the road against the Philadelphia Phillies. They’ll finally open at home on Friday afternoon with a 5-2 record as they host the 2-4 Arizona Diamondbacks, who just managed a 1-1 split with the Houston Astros in a 2-game interleague series midweek. MLB Network at 1:10 on Friday and Saturday.
Twins at Red Sox
Both the Twins and Red Sox got Thursday off but one certainly needed it more than the other. The Red Sox won a thrilling series in Detroit, taking two of three from the up and coming Tigers, while the Twins were swept in a 2-game interleague series by the Los Angeles Dodgers. ESPN+ and MLB Network on Friday? For those in the MASN area, this game will be available on MLB Network at 1:35 on Sunday afternoon.
Yankees at Orioles
The Orioles had Thursday off while the Yankees are coming off a big early season series against the division favorite Toronto Blue Jays.
Athletics at Blue Jays
Both the Blue Jays and Athletics finished off weekday series on Thursday.
Giants at Guardians
The Giants and Guardians were both off on Thursday after winning their weekday series. The Giants took two of three from division rival San Diego, while the Guardians swept in-state rival Cincinnati in a short 2-game series on Tuesday and Wednesday.