We dream of baseball seasons that start the way this one has. That is, with every division up for grabs, including the National League Central, which is showing off a special kind of crazy. The week begins with the Cardinals, Pirates and Brewers in a three-way tie for first, with the Cubs a half-game back.
You know, as opposed to the NL East, where there's a whole four games separating the top four teams. Or the American League West, where the top three are a mere 2 1/2 games apart. Funny thing is, on Opening Day, we thought we had most of these races figured out. At least, five of the six division races seemed clearcut.
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Think again. That's the backdrop for a new week that offers a smorgasbord of possibilities. Let's check out what could be the best game each day:
MONDAY: Brewers at D-backs (9:40 p.m. ET, MLB.TV)
While the Brewers slug their way through an assortment of injuries to the rotation, the D-backs have hit their first speed bump in what has been a magical start to the season. This matchup features undefeated Arizona lefty Patrick Corbin (4-0, 2.12 ERA) against Junior Guerra (2-3, 3.09), who is off to a very nice start.
TUESDAY: Yankees at Nationals (7:05 p.m. ET, MLB.TV)
This is a matchup of baseball's hottest teams in what could be a World Series preview. OK, there's way too much baseball left to project something like that, but that's an indication of how solid these clubs have been. Both have been hit hard by injuries, but both have thrived anyway thanks to the organizational depth stacked up by the general managers, Brian Cashman of the Yankees and Mike Rizzo of the Nationals.
WEDNESDAY: Cubs at Braves (7:35 p.m. ET, MLB.TV)
These teams are in the middle of crowded division races, and that's surprising for different reasons. The Cubs were solid favorites to repeat as NL Central champions. Instead, they've spent a total of two -- count 'em -- two days in first place. As for the Braves, they've sprinted into contention because talented kids like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies are delivering on their prospect promise and veterans Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis are playing as well as they ever have.
THURSDAY: Phillies at Cardinals (7:15 p.m. ET, MLB.TV)
Two teams that began the season with a lengthy list of questions have been among baseball's best teams for the last month and find themselves very much in the middle of tough fights for postseason berths. The Cards, who have won 15 of 20 against the Phils the past three seasons, begin the week having won 10 of 13 at Busch Stadium.
FRIDAY: Indians at Astros (8:10 p.m. ET, MLB.TV)
This series won't have the same vibe that last season's AL Championship Series would have had. On the other hand, that series -- one featuring the two AL teams that won 100 games -- never happened after the Yankees eliminated the Indians in the AL Division Series. Here we go again, with both favored to return to the postseason, and so this may really be an October preview between what may be the AL's two best rotations.
SATURDAY: Rockies at Giants (4:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network,MLB.TV)
If you thought you had the NL West figured out, guess again. The D-backs may have passed the Dodgers as favorites, but both teams could contend. Neither is without questions. The Rockies have some holes in the lineup, and the Giants just finished up a tough East Coast trip that interrupted a nice run back into the mix.
SUNDAY: Dodgers at Nationals (1:35 p.m. ET, MLB Network,MLB.TV)
On Opening Day, the Dodgers and Nationals were widely seen -- along with the Cubs -- as the NL's best teams. While the Nationals appear headed for their fifth division championship in seven seasons, the Dodgers have been hit hard by injuries, and they have a lot of work to do if they're to win their sixth straight NL West title. This series is another opportunity for the Dodgers to get things back on track.