Not Phillin’ It
How are the Phillies 19-15 despite a -30 run differential that’s sixth worst in all of baseball (Thursday result pending)? Well, their 12-3 record in games decided by one run is your answer. That’s easily MLB’s best record in that situation and given how absurd it is at this point of the season (Mariners are #2 at 8-5), I would expect the losses to start piling up sooner rather than later. Especially seeing as their offense has scored the second fewest runs in all of baseball. Interestingly, they will be hosting the Reds this weekend, so the Phillies should be favored in most, if not all, games. There might just be a good underdog opportunity in there or at least go with Cincinnati on the run line if the juice isn’t too high.
A’s Pitching Gets an ‘F’
Over the last four games, Oakland pitching has surrendered a ghastly 51 runs. 40 of those were scored by the Red Sox, who became the first team since the ’99 Indians to score 13 or more runs in three consecutive games. The A’s pitching staff now owns an 8.58 ERA in May, which is obviously the driving force behind them losing 9 of the last 10 games.
But maybe there is hope on the horizon as this weekend sees the club traveling to Tampa Bay. In the last column, I warned you that it might be time to “sell high” on the Rays and sure enough they got swept in Seattle. Minnesota is the only A.L. team to have scored fewer runs this year than TB. So, in a battle of two teams that just got swept, expect the A’s pitching to do the only thing it can – and that’s improve.
Showalter Defying Expectations – Again
Besides Boston and Seattle, one other team swept its last series and that is Baltimore, the surprising leaders of the AL East. Of course, it helps that they played the Twins at home. Buck Showalter’s club gets to stay at Camden Yards this weekend, but it be a tougher test with Detroit coming to town. I say that knowing full well that the Tigers have dropped eight of nine and just struck out 20 times at the hands of Max Scherzer on Wednesday. But don’t be surprised if they claw their way to a series split here even though the O’s are a MLB-best 13-5 at home.
Wag of the Week
Sticking with Baltimore, here is a bit of a throwback with former Orioles second baseman Brain Roberts’ wife Diana.
*Boston’s lineup is on a ridiculous tear thanks to that series with Oakland and their lineup is now batting a collective .336 the last seven games. Leading the charge has been Jackie Bradley, Jr, who had six RBI’s hitting in the 9-spot in the batting order on Wednesday. Bradley Jr is currently working on a 17-game hitting streak and is 13 for his last 27 at the plate with five home runs. The red hot Red Sox have caught the Cubs for most runs scored in all of MLB entering Thursday.
*There was a ton of debate Wednesday night on social media over a decision made by Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon to let the struggling Jorge Solar (now 2 for his last 15) with the game on the line. In the midst of a historic start for the team, Solar has been dreadful so far (.185/.276/.292) and is on the verge of working his way out of the everyday lineup. He struck out four times on Wednesday and his OPS is .536.
*Losing David Price to AL East rival Boston meant someone needed to step up and fill a void at the front end of Toronto’s rotation. So far, that person has been J.A. Happ, who is now 5-0 after blanking the Giants for 8 2/3 innings on Tuesday. Happ’s current ERA (2.05) and WHIP (1.16) are significantly better than his career marks in those two categories, so I’m interested to see if this can continue. His next turn in the rotation doesn’t come until Monday, so that could be a break for Texas, who the Blue Jays visit this weekend.
*Two pitchers I’ve previously written about in this column (for very different reasons) will square off Friday in the opener of a three-game set. Chicago’s Chris Sale has emerged as the early Cy Young favorite in the American League thanks to a 7-0 record with a 1.79 ERA and 0.775 WHIP. On the other side of the ledger, we have Luis Severino for the Yankees who is now 0-5 in his six starts (0-6 TSR) with a 6.12 ERA and 1.484 WHIP. This shapes up as the biggest pitching mismatch of the season, at least on paper.
Wouldn’t you know that it is Toronto that occupies the mantle of MLB’s top Under team? Last year, they led the league in offense, but are down more than a full run per game in that department in 2016. Overall, the Under is 23-10-3 in their games this season including a 8-2-1 mark here in May.
Friday’s Weather Report
* There is a 60 percent chance of rain and a 6-8 mile per hour wind blowing out to right field when the Cubs host the Pirates today at Wrigley Field. The total for the game is currently off the board.
* There is rain expected in New York this evening with the Yankees scheduled to play the White Sox. there will be a 6-8 mile per hour wind gusting out to right field. The total for the game is currently at 7.0.
* In Philadelphia, there is a 74 percent chance of rain and 7-8 mile per hour wind blowing in from left field for the Phillies game versus the Reds. The forecast is expected to clear up as the evening rolls along. The total is currently 8.5.
* There is a 64 percent chance of rain and even a chance of thunderstorms tonight at Fenway Park with the Red Sox scheduled to host the Astros. There will be a 5-7 mile per hour wind blowing out to the Green Monster. The total is currently 9.0.
* Not that pitchers need it at Safeco Field, but there will be a pitchers wind gusting there tonight for the Mariners game against the Angels, wit gusts coming in from left field at 10-12 miles per hour. The total is currently 8.0.
Tagged with: feature