5 series to keep your eye on this week

April 24th, 2023

As we approach the end of the first month of the season, we’ve seen some teams perform surprisingly well while some of last year’s top teams have struggled. Those trends will be put to the test this week in several notable matchups. Here are five series to watch during the week of April 24:

Astros (12-10) at Rays (19-3)
3 games (Monday-Wednesday)

Head to head: The Astros went 5-1 against the Rays in 2022, including a three-game sweep in Tampa in September. They also met in the 2019 and 2020 playoffs, with each team winning one series.

Storyline: Are the Rays taking the torch from the Astros? These teams have combined for the past four AL pennants, with Boston in 2018 being the last other team to earn one. They are also two of three AL teams to reach each of the past four postseasons, joining the Yankees. But so far, Tampa Bay has vastly outperformed Houston in 2023.

Watch out for: . Lowe struggled across 52 games of action as a rookie in 2022, but his emergence has been one of several reasons for Tampa Bay’s MLB-best 19-3 record. His slugging percentage of .691 ranks fifth among players with 50-plus plate appearances.

Dodgers (12-11) at Pirates (16-7)
3 games (Tuesday-Thursday)

Head to head: The Dodgers went 1-5 against the Pirates in 2022 -- their worst record against any opponent during their 111-win season.

Storyline: Will these teams continue their surprising starts? The Dodgers’ 12-11 record is on pace to be their worst since going 82-79 in 2011. The talent is there, but injuries and bullpen issues have hampered Los Angeles thus far. In contrast, the Pirates have greatly surpassed expectations this season after losing 100-plus games in both 2021 and 2022, and this series will serve as another test for them.

Watch out for: . Suwinski’s breakout has been a major factor in the Pirates’ hot start. Via Statcast, the 24-year-old ranks third among qualified hitters in both expected slugging percentage (.696) and barrel rate (26.7%).

Padres (12-12) at Cubs (12-9)
3 games (Tuesday-Thursday)

Head to head: The Padres went 5-2 against the Cubs in 2022. They swept a four-game series in Chicago, and lost two out of three in San Diego.

Storyline: Can Soto and Machado get back on track? While has excelled in his debut season in San Diego, and has understandably taken some time to shake off the rest from injury and suspension, both and have less of an excuse for their struggles, with each on pace for a career-low OPS (.752 for Soto, .536 for Machado).

Watch out for: . Though Wisdom had 25-plus home runs in each of the past two seasons, he’s taken it to a new level this year, as he ranks third in MLB with nine homers.

Yankees (13-9) at Rangers (14-7)
4 games (Thursday-Sunday)

Head to head: The Yankees went 4-3 against the Rangers in 2022. The teams split a four-game series in Texas, and the Yankees took two out of three in New York.

Storyline: Are the Rangers for real? After six consecutive losing seasons from 2017-22, including 94-plus losses in each of the past two years, Texas and first-year manager Bruce Bochy have surged to the top of the AL West. Going against the Yankees, who have made each of the past six postseasons, will serve as a strong litmus test.

Watch out for: . After an impressive 2022 season in which he hit 32 home runs (his first 30-homer season since 2017), the 33-year-old has kept his career resurgence alive this season. He has a batting line of .316/.411/.566, all of which would be career highs.

Braves (14-8) at Mets (14-9)
4 games (Friday-Monday)

Head to head: These teams have not played this season, but the Braves went 10-9 against the Mets in 2022, including a three-game sweep in their final head-to-head series of the season. This result was particularly notable, as it determined the tiebreaker for the NL East.

Storyline: Two of last season’s 100-win teams, the Astros and Dodgers, have hovered around .500 so far in 2023. The other two -- the Braves and Mets -- have not. After these teams finished with identical 101-61 records last season, they both appear to be the class of the NL East again, and any game between them could have major playoff implications.

Watch out for: . Olson was a Met destroyer last season, with seven home runs against New York -- two more than any other MLB player against the Mets in 2022. Olson has also been successful out of the gate in 2023, with a team-high six home runs.