The sports market is pretty crowded right now. With the NBA and NHL playoffs in full swing, the MLB hasn’t dominated the media coverage as it will later in the summer. However, if you decide to flip your TV to America’s pastime this month, 5 series stick out and are must-watch for any baseball fan.
5 MLB Series You Must Watch in May
1. Toronto Blue Jays at Pittsburgh Pirates, May 5-7
Two of the hottest teams in baseball will match up later this week at PNC Park when the Toronto Blues Jays take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates have been the biggest surprise of the 2023 season so far, playing great baseball and becoming the first NL team to have 20 wins on the year. Now, Pirates fans aren’t necessarily expecting a World Series, but hope is high for a surprise playoff berth under the expanded system. The Blue Jays will be a great litmus test for their legitimacy, as the Jays were or would’ve been a playoff team under the new system every year since 2019.
This is also a big series for Toronto, who have gotten out to a strong 18-10 start but remain 4.5 games back of the Tampa Bay Rays, who might just never slow down. Needing to make up ground, they’ll be hungry to grab a series win on the road heading into a series with the defending NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies. And if this wasn’t entertaining enough, the Blue Jays have won six of their last seven and the Pirates eight of their last ten. Both teams will be on a roll heading into this one.
2 and 3. San Diego Padres vs Los Angeles Dodgers, May 5-7 (at Petco Park) and May 12-14 (at Dodger Stadium)
This might technically be cheating, but both of these series are undoubtedly must-watch. While the San Diego Padres have been routinely hyped up ever since the acquisition of Juan Soto, the Los Angeles Dodgers have remained the big bad bully in the NL West and have been the padre of the Padres, going 14-5 against them last year and 12-7 the year before that. This Death Star roster AJ Preller has assembled in San Diego will attempt to change that, and this is the first chance they get to take down Los Angeles.
Soto has been a disappointment this year, hitting only .202, but the walks he draws still make him an above-average offensive player with a 115 OPS+. Fernando Tatis Jr. is back from his steroid suspension and there would be no better stage to let the league know you’re back than against a hated rival.
For LA, rookie James Outman has been a revelation, hitting .292/.376/.615 with an outstanding 191 OPS+. He’ll try to build upon his Rookie of the Year case during this series, first in Petco before the drive to Dodger Stadium for their second series. In these series, the Padres will attempt to shatter the dominance of the Dodgers and announce they’re here to stay in the NL West. Must-watch baseball.
4. Atlanta Braves at Texas Rangers, May 15-17
I know what you’re thinking. I cannot possibly be thinking that the Texas Rangers are legit for going 17-11 during April and they’ll surely come down to Earth soon. That may very well be true, but I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. Texas has one of the easiest May schedules in MLB, facing only two playoff teams from last year, who both lost in the ALDS.
The Rangers are likely to keep their good start rolling, but the Atlanta Braves will be a major test in the middle of the month. Atlanta has gotten out to an even better start than Texas, going 18-9 and signaling all the New York Mets fans that thought the NL East was theirs to slow their roll.
Of course, the main story around the Rangers will be Jacob DeGrom’s forearm injury, but their pitching staff is very capable of holding it down without him. Every single Texas starter has an ERA+ above league average, with Martin Perez leading the pack at a 185 ERA+. Their bullpen has also been outstanding, with the top trio of Will Smith, Brock Burke, and José Leclerc allowing only 6 earned runs on the year so far. They will go up against an experienced stable of Braves hitters who know what it takes to win, with Ronald Acuna Jr. and the A’s duo of Matt Olson and Sean Murphy posting OPS’s over .930 so far this year. This will be a true test for both teams.
5. Minnesota Twins at Houston Astros, May 29-31
The AL Central has been the worst division in baseball in 2023, but the Minnesota Twins have gotten off to a 17-12 start and surprisingly top their division by 3.5 games. That breathing room will be tested over the next month, as the Twins take on five playoff teams in May. That hard stretch is capped off by a road series against the defending champion Houston Astros, who themselves have not got off to the start they dreamed of this year. The AL West has not been especially good so far, but Houston finds itself 2 games back of the division-leading Rangers, with the Los Angeles Angels hot on the Astros’ tail, only a half-game back.
Astros fans won’t be panicking yet, but they need hitters not named Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker to step up if they want a chance at a repeat. The Twins will need their sluggers to keep surging, and Joey Gallo continuing to mash with his 1.063 OPS while Byron Buxton keeps hitting around a 143 OPS+ would be a huge boost to their chances of winning the division. Also, Carlos Correa has struggled this year with a 78 OPS+, but this series represents a homecoming for him and he’s sure to get an ovation at Minute Maid Park. This should be a great test for both teams and has many interesting storylines to make it a must-watch at the end of May.
Main Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports