Phillies vs. Braves
Kendrick vs.Hanson Tuesday-MLB Network
TBD vs. Hudson- Wednesday ESPN
Interest Level: 7
This might be only the third week of the season, but this NL East match-up is still important. The Phillies have a razor-thin 1 game edge over the Braves. For the Phillies, they have Kendrick starting...he has been absolutely brutal in his first two starts.
The Braves are one of the more interesting teams in the league. Jason Heyward alone makes them worth watching as you never know what he's going to pull off. Both Hanson & Hudson are off to solid starts and if they keep it up....everyone's prediction of the Phillies running away with this division could turn out to be very wrong.
Royals vs. Blue Jays Wednesday MLB Network
Greinke vs. Marcum
Interest Level: 5
The Royals are off to a 5-7 start and considering the job their GM did in the off-season, this could pass as over-achieving. The Royals are giving reigning Cy Young award winner Zach Greinke the start. He is 0-2 this year but this can be attributed to the ineptness of the team around him and not Greinke himself as he has a respectable (though not 2009-level) 114 ERA+
The Blue Jays have gotten off to a better than expected 8-6 start. If they want to sustain this strong start or even stay above .500, they are going to need Shaun Marcum to stay healthy for throughout the season (having Vernon Wells continue to hit the cover off the ball wouldn't hurt either).
Indians vs. Twins Thursday MLB Network
Talbot vs. Baker
Interest Level: 7
A sneakingly interesting early AL Central Match-Up. The Twins have thus far taken their rightful place on top of the AL Central. This game gets extra points due to fantasy implications as J.J Hardy (hasn't done much since hitting a couple homers in the first week) and Michael Cuddyer (off to a nice start) are on my fantasy team. The Twins have Scott Baker starting...text-book definition of a solid but not great pitcher.
The Indians, expected to head straight to the cellar, have a fairly respectable 6-6 record. Speaking of my fantasy team, one player that has allowed the Indians to be respectable 6-6 and my team to be 2-0 is Shin-Soo Choo. Coming off a quietly strong 20-20 season....he's hit the ground running in 2010 and hit the cover off the ball (to the tune of a 240 OPS+!!!!). His last week was insane 11-19 3 Homers 11 RBIs 6 walks (that's a .680 OBP!!!!!!).....is it too early to talk MVP? Not according to this guy. But....one totally epic season does not win a division or allow you to be good (isn't that right Kansas City Royals?)...and some competency from the other 24 players is still needed.
The Indians start Mitch Talbot. He has 3 career starts under his belt. Two of them have come in 2010. So far, so good (1-1 3.21 era 120 ERA+). I'm not sure how sustainable this performance is but if he can continue to play fairly well and Shin-Soo Choo ends up breaking into the elite this year, the Indians could surprise some people this year.
Rangers vs. Red Sox Thursday MLB Network
Wilson vs. Bucholz
The Rangers have slogged to a 5-7 start thus far. Not too much about this team screams contender to me. The Rangers are starting C.J. Wilson in this one. Not sure how he will hold up the entire year as a starter (he spent the last 4 seasons exclusively in relief, 3 of them as a closer). One thing at least is for sure, you can't blame the Rangers slow start on Wilson (0-1 2.08 era 206 ERA+).....he even has a complete game under his belt....not bad for a player who has Ed Vosberg as his #1 comparable on baseball-reference.
I'm pretty sure not many people were expecting the Red Sox to start 4-9. Whether this is a sign of things to come or they are getting their worst stretch out of the way early, it is too early to tell. They have Clay Bucholz taking the hill for this game. Like Wilson, the Red Sox early struggles can't really be blamed on Bucholz as he has also started off well (1-1 1.80 era 242 ERA+). Are we in the middle of Clay Bucholz's breakout season? The Red Sox may need it if they want to be in contention.