Even though they’ve been winning recently, the Rays are still tied for the third fewest runs scored in all of baseball. They’ll have to face Seattle’s top two pitchers in this series, beginning with Felix Hernandez on Monday.
These two teams played seven times last season and only once were more than five total runs scored!
Something’s Gotta Give
Two teams coming off awful weekends meet in D.C. as the Nationals host the Tigers starting Monday. Washington just got swept in Chicago – I suppose there’s no real shame there – but Detroit is the one really reeling as they’ve lost six straight games after being swept by both Cleveland and Texas. Actually, four of the Tigers’ last five series have ended in sweeps with them coming out on the wrong end three of those times.
Not having the DH for the next three games is a bad blow for a lineup that’s averaging less than three runs per game during its losing skid.
Don’t Forget About Those Bullpens
Bullpens either improving or regressing can have a large impact on a team’s overall won-loss record from year to year. So far, we’re seeing two examples of that in the American League.
The White Sox, who seemingly don’t give up any runs late in games, are now 21-0 when leading entering the 7th inning. A big reason for this is that their bullpen ERA (1.86) is the best in baseball by more than half a run. Consider that last season, they were just 15th in that category.
Then there’s Houston, who made a big jump last year in bullpen ERA (30th to 6th), but this season is heading back in the opposite direction (currently 23rd). This is a major reason why these two teams are in very different places in the standings. I don’t think 32 games is too small a sample size to make changes to my preseason playoff projections.
Right now, I’d certainly bet on the White Sox being “in” and the Astros being “out.”
WAG of the Week
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy has been out of action for about a year now after undergoing Tommy John surgery last summer. Rehab is no fun – but it must make it easier to get to go home to his wife Amanda every night.
* Here’s your obligatory Cubs’ mention of the column. A pitching staff that has posted a filthy 2.48 ERA (MLB’s best) has logically grabbed the headlines in the team’s record-setting 24-6 (+102 run differential!) start. But how about the fact the team also leads the league in runs scored? While it all starts with the leadoff man (Dexter Fowler), the Cubs now have another hitter with a better than 1.000 OPS and that’s Anthony Rizzo, who is 11 for 27 at the plate with 10 runs scored during the team’s seven game win streak. Things should be pretty easy on the Northside to start the week as San Diego pays a visit.
* Robinson Cano of Seattle is on a tear right now as he’s 17 for his last 31 at the plate with three home runs in the last two games. His May slash line is .500/.500/.731.
* Simply put, I have a sore spot for the Indians’ Corey Kluber. I feel he’s suffered from some bad luck both this season and last. In the case of 2016, he has an ERA of 3.35, but a WHIP of 0.953. His team start record is only 2-4, but the disparity in ERA/WHIP indicates to me that he’s due for some more positive results. Perhaps as soon as Monday when he’ll start against the struggling Astros.
* Four pitchers currently have team start records of 6-0 or better. Three of the names should come as no surprise: Arrieta, Sale and Strasburg. But how about a second White Sox pitcher making the list, that being Mat Latos? Pitching for three different teams last season, Latos posted a 4.95 ERA. This year, he’s all the way down to 2.62 and that’s only after allowing four runs in back to back starts. The next time Latos toes the rubber will be Wednesday, at home, against the Rangers.
The Under is 10-3 in Dodgers’ home games so far this season. Starting Monday, they’ll welcome in a Mets team that led the NL in runs scored on the road last season.
* Angels’ shortstop Andrelton Simmons left Sunday’s game with a sprained thumb and he is questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. St. Louis.
* The Angels also suffered a major blow to their starting rotation when it was announced over the weekend that Garrett Richards would be lost for the 2016 season, and beyond, with a torn UCL that will require Tommy John surgery.
* Yankees second baseman Startin Castro left Sunday’s game against the Red Sox after feeling a tweak in his back. It’s been diagnosed as a rib cage injury and he is questionable to play Monday against the Royals. Don’t be surprised to see him held out of action for a few days to ensure it doesn’t turn into a lingering issue.
* Aroldis Chapman is eligible to return from his domestic violence suspension today and will provide a huge boost to the Yankees’ bullpen.
* Seattle’s Nelson Cruz missed Sunday’s game with a bruised forearm and is questionable to return Monday against the Rays.
* Cubs’ catcher Miguel Montero is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday and should provide some much needed help to a struggling Cubs lineup – just kidding, he’ll just add a little bit extra to an already awesome roster.
Friday’s Weather Report
* There is a 60 percent chance of rain showers in D.C. where Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals will host the Detroit Tigers Monday evening. The total for the game is currently 7.5.
* It will be clear and cool tonight at Fenway Park where the Sox will welcome the Oakland Athletics. The major weather-maker this evening will be a stiff breeze blowing out to right field. The total for this game is currently 8.5.
* There is a chance of some thunderstorms in Cincinnati for tonight’s rivalry game between the Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The total is currently 9.0.
* There will be some thunderstorms in the Chicago area Monday night where the Cubs will welcome the San Diego Padres to town. There is a 65% chance of shower early in the game and that boosts up to a 100% chance of some wet stuff during the later innings. The total is currently OFF.
* Rounding out our weather report for Monday, there will also be a chance of thunderstorms in Denver for Monday’s game between the Rockies and D-Backs. There will also be a breeze blowing in from left-center for most of the game. The total is currently set OFF.
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