Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

MLB News

10 things to watch for in MLB this weekend

Lester has chance to do something no one's ever seen @castrovince

Between repeat playings of "Purple Rain" and, perhaps, renewed appreciation for the presence of Prince Fielder, we'll have plenty of baseball to watch this weekend.

Here's a cheat sheet to help you prepare.

Between repeat playings of "Purple Rain" and, perhaps, renewed appreciation for the presence of Prince Fielder, we'll have plenty of baseball to watch this weekend.

Here's a cheat sheet to help you prepare.

1. Lest but not least
These are no-torious times in MLB. We've had 13 no-hitters since the start of 2014, with Jake Arrieta now famously contributing two of them -- with zero regular-season losses separating those stellar outings.

What we've never seen are no-nos with no separation. Meaning, two no-hitters from the same team on consecutive days. But if anybody can make us dream of such hard-to-imagine history, it's a Cubs team that sends Jon Lester to the hill after Arrieta. Lester, of course, has his own no-hitter -- a May 9, 2008, effort against the Royals when he was with the Red Sox -- but in hashtag form, he's the first to admit Arrieta is a tough act to follow:

Tweet from @JLester34: Cant describe last night in 140 characters. @JArrieta34 @D_Ross3 @KrisBryant_23 @benzobrist18. #wearegood #howthehellamisupposedtofollowthat

Tune in at 7:10 p.m. ET to see what Lester has in store for the Cubs' encore.

2. deReturn of deGrom
The Mets' stash of young, hard-throwing starters has been incomplete in the early going, as Jacob deGrom came out of his first start on April 8 with right lat tightness, then left the team to be with his wife and newborn son, Jaxon Anthony, who was born with what manager Terry Collins called "complications."

Video: PHI@NYM: deGrom goes six strong for first win

Thankfully, the boy has been discharged from the hospital, and deGrom's physical condition has taken a turn for the better, too. Though Logan Verrett filled in well in his absence, the Mets will gladly welcome back the guy with a 2.59 ERA in 53 career starts. deGrom gets the ball Sunday at Turner Field, and we'll see if dad strength adds even more zip to that fastball.

3. A test of Natitude
Nearly three weeks in, the Nats are on top of the National League East and successfully shaking off the sting of a 2015 season gone awry. You really could not ask for a better start to the Dusty Baker era. Toothpicks and wristbands have proven to be a good look in Washington, especially when Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy are almost-impossible outs.

The only nit to pick is that the Nationals have yet to face a team that finished 2015 with a winning record. That will change this weekend, when the Twins come to town. Of course, Minnesota's current record demonstrates how inexact the "strength of schedule" discussion can be, but the Twins are better than they displayed in their 0-9 start, and, for the Nats, this Interleague offering kicks off a stretch of 13 games in 16 tries against teams who finished north of .500 last year.

Video: Reigning NL MVP enjoying incredible April slate

4. Babe's toyland
The Yankees' offense has not exactly had a Ruthian start to the season, on measure. But if you can't insert the Great Bambino into your lineup, the next-best thing is to brandish his bobblehead.

That's precisely what the Yanks will do with Babe Ruth Bobblehead Day at the Stadium for Saturday's 1 p.m. ET game against the Rays. The first 18,000 fans through the gates will receive a Babe bobblehead that features a more svelte image of the Sultan of Swat than we're accustomed to. But hey, the bobblehead promised Ruth, not truth.

5. Bond(s) renewal
We're still adjusting our eyes to the sight of Barry Bonds in a Marlins uniform in his new role as Don Mattingly's hitting coach. And the sight will seem especially strange this weekend, when the Fish pay a visit to Bonds' former stomping grounds at AT&T Park.

To Bonds, though, the return to the place where he set the single-season and career home run records is anything but strange.

"That's my home," Bonds told reporters. "That will always be my home. I don't feel strange at home."

Well, at least he's still wearing orange and black.

6. Gray day
Sonny's not the only Gray in the Friday forecast. The opener of the Dodgers-Rockies weekend set features Colorado right-hander Jon Gray's season debut.

Is it possible the Rockies' starting staff is better than initially advertised? It has posted a 2.72 ERA over the past seven games, with Chad Bettis stepping up particularly large. And though Gray had a 5.53 ERA over his first nine career starts last year, the Rox's No. 2 prospect, per, is still a source of upside for them. He's got an electric fastball, a good changeup and a newly healed abdominal muscle.

7. Kenta touch this
Pitching opposite Tyler Chatwood and the Rockies on Saturday will be Dodgers newbie Kenta Maeda, who is loving stateside life right about now. Three starts, two wins, only one earned run allowed in 19 innings. It's possibly the best start to a career for a Dodgers pitcher since Fernando Valenzuela, if you can believe that.

Video: SF@LAD: Maeda limits Giants to one run over seven

But here's the thing: Maeda's three starts came in Petco Park and Dodger Stadium. Not exactly bastions of bashed baseballs. On Saturday, Maeda gets his introduction to the pitcher-killer known as Coors Field. Will Maeda escape Colorado with his inordinately puny ERA (0.47) intact or is he due for some Rocky innings?

8. It's a major award!
Elsewhere in the promotions realm is the handout 30 years in the making Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium, where 20,000 Royals fans will receive a replica World Series champions trophy.

Granted, it won't come with real gold-plated flags and won't be made of sterling silver, a la the one made by Tiffany & Co. But it's still a long-awaited prize for Royals fans who suffered through their fair share of 100-loss seasons, when even a plastic trophy was a pipe dream.

9. Waino watch
We know better than to get wrapped up in April statistics, but it's still pretty surreal to see Adam Wainwright in possession of one of the five highest qualified ERAs (8.27) in baseball.

Through three starts, Waino, who missed the vast majority of 2015 after rupturing his Achilles, has looked rusty. Hanging curves and walks have killed him. But the Cardinals' ace can take some solace in the fact that his Friday start comes at the Padres' Petco Park, where he has a 2.11 ERA in four prior appearances.

10. Search for support
Corey Kluber (0-3, 6.16 ERA) is another surprisingly struggling ace going into Saturday's start in Detroit, albeit with a catch. The guy just doesn't get much help from his offense. In three starts thus far, the Indians have backed him with two runs, one run and zero runs.

If the trend holds, they will post a negative run total against the Tigers' Anibal Sanchez, which doesn't seem possible.

This wouldn't be worth noting if it weren't a long-term trend. Kluber has the lowest average run support of any qualified pitcher so far this season, and he finished 2015 with the third-lowest such mark in the Majors (3.31) and the lowest in the American League. Suffice it to say he's hoping for a little more help from his friends this weekend.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.