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Week of May 29, 2023

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Roughly one-third into the 2023 regular season, some clear trends have emerged in MLB. Several of the teams that were largely expected to succeed, such as the Astros, Yankees and Dodgers, have indeed been successful. But several teams have had surprisingly strong starts as well, with the Twins and Rangers among them.

This coming week, MLB’s best teams will be put to the test in various ways. The Dodgers and Yankees will face off in a battle of longtime juggernauts of the sport, while the Twins’ elite pitching staff will be put to the test against the reigning World Series champions. 

Those matchups, and more, are included in our five series to watch during the week of May 29:

Twins (27-26) at Astros (31-21)
3 games (Monday-Wednesday)

Head to head: The Twins took two of three games against the Astros in Minnesota in April. The Astros went 6-0 against the Twins in 2022.

Storyline: Carlos Correa returns to Houston. Drafted first overall by the Astros in the 2012 Draft, Correa had a superb tenure in Houston, with two All-Star appearances, one Rookie of the Year Award, and one World Series win in his seven seasons there. This will be Correa’s second trip to Houston as a visitor, and the first one didn’t go so well. Correa went 1-for-11 in a three-game series in August 2022, in which the Astros swept the Twins.

Watch out for: Joe Ryan. Ryan (7-1, 2.25 ERA) is having a career year in his third MLB season, being the only pitcher not on the Rays to have seven wins so far. One of those wins came against the Astros in April, when Ryan had 10 strikeouts in six innings in a 9-6 victory. Ryan is projected to start on Tuesday.

Phillies (25-28) at Mets (27-27)
3 games (Tuesday-Thursday)

Head to head: These teams have not faced off in 2023. The Mets were 14-5 against the Phillies in 2022, tied for their most wins against any team last season (also went 14-5 against Washington).

Storyline: Can either team make a run at the Braves? Both New York and Philadelphia had successful 2022 seasons, with the former winning 101 games and the latter reaching the World Series. But the Braves have already jumped out to a 4.5-game lead in an NL East race that has not been as close as expected, putting both of these teams in catch-up mode.

Watch out for: Pete Alonso. Alonso has been as dominant at the plate as ever this season, as his 20 home runs are three more than any other player. In 2022, Alonso had six home runs against the Phillies, the most by any player against Philadelphia last season.

Mariners (28-25) at Rangers (33-19)
3 games (Friday-Sunday)

Head to head: The Rangers took two of three games in Seattle from May 8-10. The Mariners went 14-5 against the Rangers in 2022, marking Seattle’s most wins against any team last season.

Storyline: Is the Rangers offense this good? The Rangers are averaging 6.33 runs per game this season, the most by any team since the 1950 Red Sox (6.67). Texas’ +123 run differential also leads MLB, as the Rangers are on pace to be the first team not named the Dodgers to lead the Majors in that metric since the 2019 Astros.

Watch out for: Corey Seager. Seager missed more than a month of the season due to a hamstring injury, including the prior Mariners-Rangers series, but he has immediately returned to top form. Seager has a .625 slugging percentage with three homers and 15 RBIs in 10 games since returning.

Yankees (32-23) at Dodgers (32-22)
3 games (Friday-Sunday)

Head to head: The Yankees and Dodgers have not faced off since August 2019, when the Yankees took two of three games in Los Angeles.

Storyline: The best of the best go at it. The Yankees and Dodgers have both made at least each of the last six postseasons, a streak matched by only three other teams in MLB history: the Astros with an active streak since 2017, along with the 1991-2005 Braves and 1995-2007 Yankees. Both teams had surprisingly middling openings to 2023, with the Yankees starting 15-15 and the Dodgers starting 13-13, but they have since returned to form.

Watch out for: Mookie Betts. The Dodgers have not faced the Yankees since acquiring Betts in 2020, but Betts has no shortage of history against New York. Betts had 107 hits in 96 games against the Yankees from 2014-19 with the Red Sox, eight more hits than any other player had against New York in that span.

Cardinals (24-31) at Pirates (26-26)
3 games (Friday-Sunday)

Head to head: These teams split a four-game series in St. Louis in April. The Cardinals went 13-6 against the Pirates in 2022, tied for their most wins against any team (also 13-6 against the Cubs).

Storyline: Will these teams’ opposite trajectories continue? Entering 2023, the Cardinals had 15 consecutive winning seasons, while the Pirates were a combined 142-242 over the past three seasons. Early in 2023, both teams were miles apart from their preseason expectations, as the Pirates were 20-9 entering May while the Cardinals stood at 10-19. But since then, the Cardinals have slowly been chipping away at the Pirates and Brewers, showing that St. Louis isn’t as dead in the NL Central race as it once seemed.

Watch out for: Nolan Gorman. The second-year player’s breakout is among the biggest reasons that the Cardinals have turned their season around. Since the beginning of May, Gorman has a .299/.393/.636 batting line. Gorman also went 6-for-16 with four RBIs in the four-game set against Pittsburgh in April.

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