MLB weekend viewing guide: Game times, TV schedule

Bob Levey

Highlights of this weekend's upcoming baseball action.

This Weekend's National League Series

by Andrew Mearns

St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Westbrook 0-0 Zito 0-0 4:35 PM ET FSMW, CSBA
4/6 Miller 0-0 Vogelsong 0-0 4:05 PM ET FOX
4/7 Wainwright 0-1 Cain 0-0 4:05 PM ET FSMW, CSBA

The Cards and Giants have probably been the class of the NL for the past decade, and the seven-game NLCS last year proved them to be a good match for each other. Indeed, only one of these three games appears to be a mismatch on the mound, but Shelby Miller is a popular pick for Rookie of the Year and was ranked the sixth-best prospect in the game by Baseball America entering 2013.

He faces a tough draw in his second career start though, as Ryan Vogelsong toes the rubber for the Giants. The former journeyman allowed only two runs to the Cardinals in his two NLCS starts last year, both of which came by the Bay. Crazier things have happened than a rookie beating a veteran in April though (take Vogelsong's career for instance).

The other two games project to be tight matchups on different spectrum, but the Cardinals will probably need the trio of Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig, and Matt Holliday (9-for-46 against Arizona) to find a spark in order to beat Cain in particular. Is Beltran's broken toe affecting him more than he is letting on?

Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds

USA TODAY Sports

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Haren 0-0 Bailey 0-0 7:10 PM ET MSN2, FSO
4/6 Detwiler 0-0 Leake 0-0 1:10 PM ET MASN, FSO
4/7 Strasburg 1-0 Cueto 0-0 1:10 PM ET MASN, FSO, free on mlb.tv

Having swept the Marlins, the Nats now face a more challenging foe in the Reds. Bryce Harper looked otherworldly against the Marlins with a 1.083 OPS to start the season, but is Homer Bailey capable of stopping him and the also-hot Ryan Zimmerman? In Bailey's last two real starts of 2012, he no-hit the Pirates, then limited the eventual World Series champions to one run in seven innings in the NLDS. Haren returned to the NL on a one-year, make-good contract after a disappointing 2012, so he's a bit of a wild card. Strasburg vs. Cueto should be a close game --expect Washington's still-unscored upon bullpen to play a big role in the outcome. Will Joey Votto and Jay Bruce do better than just one hit in three games each? Will the Nats' pitching let them?

Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Dodgers

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Sanchez 0-0 Greinke 0-0 10:10 PM ET ROOT, PRIM
4/6 Burnett 0-0 Kershaw 1-0 9:10 PM ET ROOT, PRIM
4/7 Locke 0-0 Ryu 0-1 4:10 PM ET ROOT, PRIM

Donnie Baseball has to like how these three games set up for L.A. As long as his elbow's fine, Greinke is a huge favorite over Giants/Royals retread Jonathan Sanchez, and while Burnett has found success in Pittsburgh (exploding rosin bags aside), it's Kershaw against a lineup that struggled with Cubs pitching. Most of the Dodgers lineup has yet to hit though, and Matt Kemp is 0-for the season. This might be a pitching-dominant series if no one gets hot, even with Sanchez on the hill tonight and a mystery matchup on Sunday with Locke and Ryu,

Chicago Cubs at Atlanta Braves

Kevin C. Cox

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Feldman 0-0 Minor 0-0 7:30 PM ET CSC+ FSSO
4/6 Villanueva 0-0 Teheran 0-0 7:10 PM ET WGN, FSSO
4/7 Samardzija 1-0 Hudson 0-1 1:35 PM ET CSC, FSSO

The Cubbies managed to win their first series without much of an offensive attack, but it will more difficult for them to match that trick against the Braves. Freddie Freeman was quietly red-hot in his first series, notching a .900 OPS, and the younger Upton matched him thanks to two homers. Feldman and Villanueva might not slow them down, but Samardzija should have shot --the converted reliever made marked improvements in the second half last year and shut out the Bucs over eight innings in his '13 debut. A top-five prospect for the Braves in '11 and '12, Teheran is still looking for his first bit of extended time in the pros, and the Cubs might be just the team he needs to see to have a breakthrough performance.

Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Miley 0-0 Lohse 0-0 8:10 PM ET FSA, FSWI
4/6 Corbin 0-0 Fiers 0-0 7:10 PM ET FSA, FSWI, free on mlb.tv
4/7 Kennedy 1-0 Gallardo 0-0 4:10 PM ET FSA, FSWI

Lohse only started one game in the spring after his delayed signing, so it is unclear how long a leash manager Ron Roenicke will give him as he works toward midseason form. Going back to 2011, the D-backs have lost six of their last seven games at Miller Park, including all three in the '11 NLDS. Will Kennedy and Miley help reverse the trend?

Miami Marlins at New York Mets

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Sanabia 0-0 Hefner 0-0 7:10 PM ET FSFL, SNY
4/6 Nolasco 0-1 Niese 1-0 1:10 PM ET FSFL, SNY
4/7 Fernandez 0-0 Laffey 0-1 1:10 PM ET FSFL, SNY

The Amazins' bats were surprisingly hot in their first series against the Padres before Eric Stults quieted them in the finale, 2-1. Prior to that, the Mets had scored 19 runs in just two games with catcher John Buck's .500 average and two homers leading the way. Hefner's no Tom Terrific, but he might as well be compared to Sanabia. The Fish managed just one run in their series against the Nationals, a solo shot by Justin Ruggiano. Niese will be favored against Nolasco as well, but Sunday's game is definitely worth a look: Baseball America's #5 prospect Jose Fernandez (20 years old) will make his major league debut; he was a surprise pick by rookie manager Mike Redmond out of spring training despite never pitching above A-ball. Hey, with this Miami team and against that Mets lineup, why not? It would be great to see someone so seemingly far from the majors at the end of last year come up and pitch well.

San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies

Mike Stobe

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Marquis 0-0 Francis 0-0 4:10 PM ET FSSD, ROOT
4/6 Ross 0-0 Garland 0-0 8:10 PM ET FSSD, ROOT
4/7 Volquez 0-1 Chacin 0-0 4:10 PM ET FSSD, ROOT

Likely cellar battle! So why should you bother checking these games out? Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitski are always capable of putting on a show, especially against some suspect San Diego pitching in hitter-friendly Coors Field. CarGo and Tulo each have two homers already, and Dexter Fowler has a pair as well, despite hitting only 13 last year in 143 games. Former White Sox playoff hero Jon Garland will also be making his first appearance on a big-league mound in almost two years, and San Diego's Edinson Volquez will try to shake off a bad Padres debut on Opening Day that led to six runs by the Mets at Citi Field. Talk about a rough start...

Interleague Series

Kansas City Royals at Philadelphia Phillies

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Davis 0-0 Kendrick 0-0 3:05 PM ET FSKC, CSP
4/6 Mendoza 0-0 Lannan 0-0 7:05 PM ET FSKC, TCN
4/7 Shields 0-1 Hamels 0-1 1:35 PM ET FSKC, WPHL

It's a rematch of the 1980 World Series, as the Royals visit Philly for just the second time since that six-game classic. Wade Davis has not started a major league game since September 25, 2011, and is making his Royals debut against a team with a pretty good offense and Jimmy Rollins, Domonic Brown, and Chase Utley all off to strong starts. Skip to the series finale, in which Cole Hamels tries to rebound from a disappointing first start to outduel K.C.'s new ace, "Big Game" James. Can Shields step up and be the rotation anchor the team expects him to be? Hell, the Royals have yet to homer -- maybe a pitcher can knock out the first.

American League Series

by Tanya Bondurant

New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Nova 0-0 Fister 0-0 1:05 PM ET YES, FOX Sports-Detroit
4/6 Phelps 0-0 Scherzer 0-0 4:05 PM ET FOX
4/7 Sabathia 0-1 Verlander 1-0 1:08 PM ET YES, FOX Sports-Detroit, TBS

A 2012 ALCS reunion that not all the Yankees are healthy enough to attend, this series features two teams with formidable pitching rotations (at least on paper) but widely disparate offenses. The Tigers are stacked, and the Yankees will have to hope their pitchers can contain reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabera, Prince Fielder, and the returning Victor Martinez. If not, it could be a long series for the Bombers, who don't have an offense that can make up any sizable deficit on the scoreboard right now. The premiere matchup is Sunday's heavyweight (not a fat joke, CC, I promise) bout between aces CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander, who had polar-opposite outings on Opening Day. Watch for the performances of Ivan Nova and David Phelps; their fifth starter battle goes on, as one will have to go to the bullpen upon the return of the ailing Phil Hughes.

Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers

Andy Lyons

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Vargas 0-0 Holland 0-0 2:05 PM ET FOX Sports-West, FOX Sports-Southwest
4/6 Hanson 0-0 Harrison 0-1 4:05 PM ET FOX
4/7 Weaver 0-0 Darvish 1-0 8:05 PM ET ESPN2

A battle of AL West contenders that leads up to what should be must-see TV on Sunday Night Baseball when Jered Weaver squares off against Yu Darvish. The newly Halo'd Josh Hamilton will be facing his old team for the first time, while fans get a first look at two of the newcomers to the Angels' rotation in Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson. These two teams could be battling it out for first place all year. Throw last year's Rookie of the Year in Mike Trout into the mix, and you've got two Goliaths looking to land the first punch.

Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Hendriks 0-0 Arrieta 0-0 3:05 PM ET FOX Sports-North, MASN
4/6 Worley 0-1 Tillman 0-0 7:05 PM ET FOX Sports-North, MASN
4/7 De Vries 0-0 Hammel 1-0 1:35 PM ET FOX Sports-North, MASN

While the Orioles were making a surprise run to the ALDS in 2012, the Twins were busy losing nearly 100 games. The O's got off to a good start in their quest to prove last year wasn't a fluke by taking the first series of the season from the Rays, scoring more runs in three games than they did in all nine games at the Trop last year, while the Twins took two of three from the reigning AL champions to begin their season. Baltimore's Chris Davis enters the series absolutely on fire after homering in each of his first three games.

Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Doubront 0-0 Johnson 0-0 7:07 PM ET NESN, SNET
4/6 Lackey 0-0 Happ 0-0 1:07 PM ET NESN, SNET
4/7 Lester 1-0 Dickey 0-1 1:07 PM ET NESN, SNET

Two teams out in public after a post-convalescent makeover. If there is a favorite in the AL East on paper, it's the Blue Jays. Their offense is dangerous, but their newly acquired pitching will have to hold up in the AL East. Boston rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. has every sports writer and announcer in America talking after his hot spring, but like the Blue Jays, healthy and productive pitching will go a long way.

Cleveland Indians at Tampa Bay Rays

USA TODAY Sports

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 McAllister 0-0 Moore 0-0 7:10 PM ET STO, Sun Sports
4/6 Bauer 0-0 Cobb 0-0 7:10 PM ET STO, Sun Sports, MLBN
4/7 Masterson 1-0 Price 0-0 1:40 PM ET STO, Sun Sports

The Indians had a busy offseason. One of their trade acquisitions, top prospect Trevor Bauer, will be making his Indians debut on Saturday in place of the injured Scott Kazmir. Bauer was not a management favorite in Arizona, so it's to be hoped his new environment provokes less drama. The Rays' offense is light (there is no explaining James Loney), but their pitching is the great equalizer. These aren't last year's Indians, though, and they have the makings of an offense that can score with the best of them.

Seattle Mariners at Chicago White Sox

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Beavan 0-0 Quintana 0-0 8:10 PM ET ROOT, WCIU
4/6 Hernandez 1-0 Axelrod 0-0 1:10 PM ET ROOT, CSN+
4/7 Iwakuma 1-0 Sale 1-0 2:10 PM ET ROOT, WGN

If only Felix Hernandez was pitching one day later, or Chris Sale was pitching one day earlier, there would be a matchup that's a mandatory tune-in even if you didn't happen to be a fan of the two teams. There are a few similarities between the other starters here: Beavan and Axelrod used their strong spring trainings to earn their respective team's fifth starter spot out of camp (Axelrod's cause was helped by Jon Danks' ongoing recovery from shoulder surgery) , while Quintana and Iwakuma hope to build upon fairly good seasons a year ago. Michael Morse enters the series having already hit four homers; with the fences being drawn in at Safeco Field, there could be plenty more where that came from this season.

Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros

DAY HOME SP VISIT. SP TIME WHERE
4/5 Straily 0-0 Peacock 0-0 8:10 PM ET CSCA, CSH
4/6 Colon 0-0 Bedard 0-0 7:10 PM ET CSCA, CSH
4/7 Anderson 0-1 Norris 1-0 2:10 PM ET CSCA, CSH

Like the Orioles, the A's will be out to prove that 2012 wasn't a fluke this year, and it might not be too difficult to start against an Astros lineup that has set a strikeout record already. Also worth watching will be Bartolo Colon's return to the mound this weekend after serving a 50-game suspension for testosterone use. Will he still be the pitcher he was before his suspension, or was his success a chemical-fueled fluke? And watch out for Josh Reddick's beard, because that thing probably has a mind of its own.

More from SB Nation:

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