My bi-weekly focus on the hottest teams in baseball now turns to the St. Louis Cardinals, who just got done finishing off a very impressive three-game sweep of the Pirates (in Pittsburgh) on Sunday.
The Cards have won five in a row overall and their +74 run differential is fourth best in all of baseball. We won’t be seeing them until Tuesday when they welcome the Houston Astros to Busch Stadium for an interleague series. Remember that these teams used to be division rivals.
Those last few seasons in the N.L. Central saw the Astros near their lowest point and things never seemed to go well against the Redbirds. In fact, Houston lost 13 of the last 15 head to head meetings.
Looking for Revenge
Two different series that get underway Monday will see one of the teams looking to avenge a prior four-game sweep.
One of them is a matchup of the National League’s marquee teams, the Cubs and Nationals. Last month at Wrigley Field, Chicago took all four games and is now 7-1 its last eight games vs. Washington. It will be interesting to see how things shape up in the Beltway where the Nats have actually been slightly less effective in terms of runs scored vs. allowed even after this weekend’s sweep of the sorry Phillies. The Cubs, meanwhile, are outscoring opponents by a full 3.0 rpg as the road team this year. But the good news for Washington is they won’t have to face either Jake Arrieta or Jon Lester in this series.
The other team seeking revenge starting Monday is the Royals, who were beaten four straight times in Cleveland last weekend. KC is just 1-6 vs. the Tribe in 2016. Their run differential continues to be poor (-21), indicating they probably don’t “deserve” to be over .500.
All Tied Up
Boston and Baltimore enter the week tied for first place in the American League East with the same 36-26 records. The Red Sox have the vastly superior run differential (+86 to +25), however, the Orioles have taken four of the seven head to head meetings this year. One thing is for certain and that’s the tie will be no more after Thursday because the teams play three games at Fenway Park, starting Tuesday.
WAG of the Week
In honor of starting pitcher Mat Latos being designated for assignment by the White Sox last week, here is his wife Dallas.
* I’ve got to go back to Kyle Hendricks this week as despite pitching for the Cubs and possessing the third best WHIP in all of baseball (0.94), his team start record is only 5-6, resulting in a loss of 5.6 units for bettors. Lately, he’s been even better with a 0.682 WHIP his last three starts, but still came out on the losing end against the Phillies on Tuesday. Hendricks will start the opener of the aforementioned series with Washington on Monday.
* Two pitchers that you’ve hopefully stayed away from this year will be toeing the rubber Monday. One is Atlanta’s Aaron Blair, who has a 1-7 TSR, 7.13 ERA and 1.840 WHIP. He’ll likely go off as a favorite, mind you, as he faces the Reds at home. The second is James Shields, who was booed off the mound in his White Sox debut last week. Giving up seven runs in just two innings leaves Shields with a 2-10 TSR.
* It’s been a terrible season so far for the Twins, but Joe Mauer has proven himself to be as reliable as ever. The former MVP has now reached base safely in 24 straight games.
* Jose Bautista is expected back in the lineup for Toronto on Monday vs. Philadelphia, most likely in the role of designated hitter. He has missed the last three games due to a sore thigh. In his place Ezequiel Carrera did well, hitting leadoff and going 4-12 at the plate with a hit in every game.
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks hook up this week for a three-game series. The only previous series between the two teams this year saw all three games stay Under. Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday.
Monday’s Weather Report
* There is a chance of thunderstorms and a 25 percent chance of rain in Atlanta tonight where the Braves will welcome the Cincinnati Reds. The total for this one is set at 9.0.
* The White Sox are hosting the Detroit Tigers on the south side of Chicago tonight and there may be a few thunderstorms making their way through the area. There is also a 25 percent chance of rain and a 5-10 mph wind blowing in from right field. The total is set at 9.5.
* It will also be warm and muggy in Kansas City where the Royals are hosting the Cleveland Indians. There is a chance of a thunderstorm, a 30 percent chance of rain, and a 10 mph breeze blowing out to left. The total for this one is currently 8.0.
* It looks like we’re going to have ourselves a hitter’s wind at AT&T Park in San Francisco tonight where the Giants are hosting the Milwaukee Brewers. The current forecast is calling for a 25-30 mph wind blowing straight out to center field. The current total is 7.5.