One team that has had a nice week thus far is Cleveland, who saw their YTD run differential go from +8 to +35 thanks to a four-game sweep of lowly Cincinnati. This weekend’s opponent may have the same color in their nickname, but that’s all the Red Sox and Reds have in common right now. Boston leads the American League with a +57 run differential and like the Indians, they’ve been able to put 13 or more runs on the board in multiple games recently. The Cleveland-Boston series takes place at Fenway Park and despite a 2-6 team start record, Corey Kluber has his team favored in Friday’s series opener. These teams split a pair of games in Cleveland earlier this year with both Friday starters – Kluber and Clay Buchholz losing their respective starts.
Chalking ‘Em Up
I can’t stop talking about the Phillies and this highly irregular start of theirs. While they are currently seven games above .500, they have been outscored by 28 runs this year. As I’ve been through before, this discrepancy is owed to a 14-3 record in one-run games (4-0 in extra innings). Those expecting regression will likely have to wait until after this weekend as the Phils next play the lowly Braves. Note that these NL East rivals are the two lowest scoring teams in all of baseball. But what’s really fascinating here is that a Philly club that found itself favored on the money line only 16 times all of last season has already been favored 10 times in 2016 and that number figures to jump to 13 after this weekend! Also note that Atlanta has actually been better on the road (8-13) than at home (2-17).
The Blue Jays have basically had the opposite luck of the Phillies when it comes to one-run games this season (just 4-10). But they picked up a much needed win on Thursday, taking the series opener in Minnesota by a score of 3-2 in 11 innings. It might be a good time to “buy low” on last year’s AL East champs as it looks like the juice isn’t going to be that high on a per game basis this weekend in the Twin Cities. Since the start of last season, Toronto is 6-2 against the Twins.
WAG of the Week
* Speaking of Toronto, Jose Bautista hit leadoff yesterday for the first time since 2010. The Blue Jays offense, which was other-worldly in 2015, has not been the same this season. But Bautista-Josh Donaldson-Edwin Encarnacion at the top of the order just might jumpstart things. Bautista, who is batting just .223 right now, went only 1-for-4 Thursday vs. Minnesota. So it will be interesting to see if manager John Gibbons continues to have him in that leadoff spot. A .374 OBP would be justification for doing so.
* One team that has had no problems hitting or scoring runs this season is St. Louis. It seems to be a different hitter stepping up every night for the Cardinals, but the one to pay particular attention to is Aledmys Diaz. He’s mostly been hitting towards the bottom of the order – typically seventh or eighth – but clearly it was time to move him up as his average is .376 with 1.051 OPS in his first 37 big league games. He hit second on Thursday and while it was only a 1-for-4 night at the plate, he did score twice. Unlike previous editions, it looks as if this year’s Cards will have to be carried by their hitting as the pitching has fallen off rather dramatically from last season’s record setting campaign. This weekend, they host an Arizona club that has been a real “road warrior” so far, holding hosts to just 3.5 runs per game.
* Tampa Bay’s Matt Andriese couldn’t have asked for his first two starts of the year to go any better. He’s allowed just 1 ER in 16 innings of work and went the distance his last time out in a masterful two-hit shutout of Oakland. Start number three comes Friday in Detroit. Andriese’s strikeout numbers may not be that impressive (just eight), but he did throw a first pitch strike to 21 of 29 Oakland hitters and induced 11 swinging strikes. The Tigers – easily – have the strongest offense that Andriese will have faced to date.
* Padres starter Colin Rea by no means has great numbers this year (4.26 ERA and 1.399 WHIP), yet he finds himself at No. 8 in terms of net units (+5.7) among all starting pitchers. He hasn’t been favored in a single start and won’t be on Sunday either when his team wraps up a three-game set with the division rival Dodgers. Note that earlier this year, Rea did cash at +180 against LA. In fact, he has a 3-0 team start record at +180 or higher on the money line!
When Washington visited Miami earlier this year, the Under cashed in all four games. The Nats make their return visit to South Beach this weekend.
* Victor Martinez of the Tigers missed Wednesday’s game with a head cold but is fully expect to return to the lineup Friday night against the Rays.
* CC Sabathia will be activated from the 15-day DL in time for his Friday night start in Oakland. He’s been out nursing a groin injury.
* The Rangers are expected to activate right fielder Shin-Soo Choo from the 15-day DL in time for Friday’s meeting with the Astros in Houston. Choo has missed the last 36 games with an injured calf.
* Shortstop Erick Aybar of the Braves is listed as questionable for Friday’s game against the Phillies. Aybar missed Thursday’s game after being sent to the hospital to have a chicken bone removed from his throat. True story.
* Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers is officially listed as doubtful for Friday’s game against the Padres. Those old men and their bad backs – he’s missed the Dodgers’ last three games.
* And again. Ryan Braun of the Brewers is doubtful to be in Friday’s lineup against the Mets. Braun has missed the last two games with lower-back stiffness.
Friday’s Weather Report:
* There is a slight chance of rain this evening (15 percent) in Pittsburgh where the Colorado Rockies will be taking on the Pirates. There will also be a light breeze blowing in from right-center field. The total for this one is set at 7.5.
* There is an 80 percent chance of rain in Cincinnati tonight where the Reds will welcome the Seattle Mariners. The rain is expected to taper off to showers later in the evening and they should be able to get this one in. The total tonight is set at 8.5.
Tagged with: feature