5 series to keep an eye on this week

August 14th, 2023

Halfway through the month of August, it’s hard to find a series on the schedule that doesn’t carry postseason implications. This week’s slate is no different.

The week ahead will bring a pair of intriguing interleague matchups, a head-to-head between first-place clubs, a high-stakes rivalry series and a critical matchup between surging AL West rivals.

Here are five series to have your eye on this week:

Orioles (73-45) at Padres (56-62)
3 games (Monday-Wednesday)

Head-to-head: The clubs last ran into each other in 2019, when the Padres took three of four games against a very different Orioles team.

Storyline: The Orioles, three games up on the Rays in the AL East, will look to keep rolling against a struggling team. On the other side, while the D-backs continue to flounder, the Padres have done little to capitalize on what could be their last opportunity to redeem themselves -- of Arizona’s two wins in the month of August, both came against San Diego over the weekend.

Watch out for: The month of August has belonged to Ryan Mountcastle. The Orioles’ first baseman is hitting .452/.529/.643 in 12 games this month, boosting what is already one of baseball’s most potent lineups.

Phillies (65-54) at Blue Jays (66-54)
2 games (Tuesday-Wednesday)

Head-to-head: Rematches of the 1993 World Series have generally had similar outcomes, with the Blue Jays holding a .583 (42-30) regular-season winning percentage against the Phillies. That said, the Phillies took the first two games of the season series back in May.

Storyline: The Phillies, although coming off a pair of losses against the Twins, have transformed into baseball’s foremost comeback kids on their climb to the NL's first Wild Card spot. Since June 1, they have 21 comeback wins, the most in MLB. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, salvaged what had been a rough weekend in Chicago with a huge 11-4 win over the Cubs on Sunday, but they remain in a precarious position, hanging onto the AL’s third Wild Card spot with the streaking Mariners just a game and a half behind.

Watch out for: Don’t look now, but Trea Turner may just be figuring things out. A solid week of standing ovations from the Philly faithful has coincided with a turnaround for the Phillies’ shortstop, who is hitting .436 with six doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs since the club returned from its most recent road trip on Aug. 4.

Brewers (65-54) at Dodgers (71-46)
3 games (Tuesday-Thursday)

Head-to-head: The Dodgers have won each of their last four season series against the Brewers by slim 4-3 margins, and took their first matchup of 2023 in May, two games to one.

Storyline: Despite the adversity -- and there’s been plenty of it -- the Dodgers are dominating the NL West again and come into the series riding an eight-game winning streak. The Brewers, for their part, are in a much less certain situation, still closely trailed by the Cubs (61-57) and Reds (62-58), both 3 1/2 games back in the NL Central, and would no doubt love to get going on a run of their own.

Watch out for: After three tough seasons, Christian Yelich is quietly righting his ship. Since June 1, Yelich has hit an impressive .319/.399/.516. Look for that to line up nicely with his career numbers against the Dodgers -- in 56 games, he’s hit .305 with a .535 slugging percentage, 11 HR and 28 RBIs.

Red Sox (62-56) at Yankees (60-58)
3 games (Friday-Sunday)

Head-to-head: After posting a 6-13 record against the Yankees in 2022, the 2023 season series, thus far, has belonged to the Red Sox, who have gone 5-1 while holding Yankees hitters to a collective .190/.240/.308 line.

Storyline: Though hovering around the .500 mark, these rivals do still have something to play for, and either could use this series to reignite their playoff hopes. The Red Sox in particular have an opportunity to capitalize, as they’ll play the Nationals ahead of their weekend series in New York while the Blue Jays see the Phillies and Reds. The Yankees' season, meanwhile, has reached new lows after a brutal walk-off loss on Sunday against the Marlins, but they remain within striking distance, something they could emphasize with a big series against Boston. 

Watch out for: Trevor Story missed the first four months of the season after undergoing offseason elbow surgery, but since his return on Aug. 8, he’s looked remarkably comfortable at the plate. In Sunday’s game against the Tigers, Story became just the 3rd player in Red Sox history to record at least 3 extra-base hits and 2 stolen bases in a game.

Mariners (63-54) at Astros (68-51)
3 games (Friday-Sunday)

Head-to-head: Seattle has taken the clubs’ first two head-to-head series in 2023, most recently winning three of four in Houston from July 6-9.

Storyline: Both clubs come in hot -- the Astros are 8-4 in August and the Mariners, 8-3. Another strong series against the Astros would be huge for the Mariners, who enter the week four games behind their division rivals and a game and a half out of a Wild Card spot, and things could be even tighter by the weekend, as the Astros will be in Miami while the Mariners have a four-game series against the Royals this week. 

Watch out for: Kyle Tucker, always a threat at the plate, has found another gear of late. Since July 1, he’s hitting .326/.417/.645 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs, playing no small part in the Astros’ pursuit of the first-place Rangers.