The first full weekend of the 2013 MLB campaign is on the way, and there is a loaded menu of marquee early-season matchups. Angels OF Josh Hamilton makes his return to Texas to take on the Rangers, the New York Yankees head to the Motor City to battle the Tigers in a rematch of last year’s American League Championship Series, and the St. Louis Cardinals will look to avenge their NLCS defeat as they travel to AT&T Park to battle the Giants.
The Rays (1-2) will welcome the new-look Cleveland Indians (2-1) to Tropicana Field for a three game set. Tampa Bay is coming off an opening series with their AL East rival, the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s took two out of three games, but Rays manager Joe Maddon says he appreciates the challenge that Baltimore and other top-tier MLB teams bring to his squad.
Lefty Matt Moore will get the start in Friday night’s matchup against Zach McAllister for the Tribe. Saturday’s probables feature a couple of young up-and-comers in Alex Cobb and Trevor Bauer. Bauer is widely thought of as one of the top pitching prospects in the country, and is expected to be called up from Triple-A Columbus to replace former Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir, who was recently placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained rib cage. Reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price will take on right-hander Justin Masterson in a battle of the aces on Sunday afternoon. The Indians and Rays split their eight meetings last season.
In National League action, the Miami Marlins (0-3) will look to get their offense going after scoring just one run in their opening series against the Washington Nationals. The Fish will head to the Big Apple to take on their fellow NL East member New York Mets (2-1). The Mets lit up the scoreboard in their first two contests against the Padres, scoring 19 runs, but were stymied in the series finale by Eric Stults and the San Diego bullpen in a 2-1 loss.
24-year-old right-hander Alex Sanabia, who spent all of 2012 in the minors, will be tasked with slowing down the New York bats. Jeremy Hefner takes the mound for the Mets after taking over Johan Santana’s spot in the rotation. Hefner, who relies on corner command and changing speeds, struck out six batters per nine innings last year — a number that could go up against the weak offense of Miami. Ricky Nolasco and Jose Fernandez will be the Marlins’ Saturday-Sunday starters, respectively.
Other significant matchups around the league include Nationals-Reds, Red Sox-Blue Jays, and Dodgers-Pirates.