Awards chase is on

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With just a few weeks left in the 2019 MLB campaign, we are starting to get overwhelmed with talk surrounding who will be named the Rookie of the Year winners, the Cy Young winners, and the MVP winners.

Yes, some of the forecasted players in each category are in the running, but there are several surprises as well.

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Let’s start with Rookie of the Year. Currently, the AL has five candidates: Brandon Lowe of the Rays, Michael Chavis of the Red Sox, Eloy Jiminez of the White Sox, Spencer Turnbull of the Tigers and John Means of the Orioles. The only one of these rookies that were listed as a possible favorite is Jiminez, who was 5-4 to win the award.

The NL has four candidates: Pete Alonso of the Mets, Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres, Mike Soroka of the Braves and Alex Verdugo of the Dodgers. All four of these rookies were preseason notables. Alonso was 4-1, Tatis Jr. was 5-1, Soroka  and Verdugo were 18-1.

The Cy Young race in both leagues are very exciting. The AL has Justin Verlander of the Astros, Charlie Morton of the Rays, Mike Minor of the Rangers, Gerrit Cole of the Astros, Lucas Giolito of the White Sox, Jose Berrios of the Twins and Shane Bieber of the Indians. Bieber was the only current pitcher not listed as a possible contender for the award.

Verlander was 15-1, Cole was 12-1, Berrios was 30-1, Morton was 60-1 with Minor and Giolito both 200-1.

The NL Cy Young has five solid competitors: Max Scherzer of the Nationals, Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers, Luis Castillo of the Reds, Zack Greinke of the Diamondbacks, and Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals. All five were listed as favorites. Scherzer was 5-2, Strasburg was 25-1, Greinke, since traded to Houston, was 30-1, Castillo and Ryu were both 100-1.

The MVP race consists of a slew of candidates in both leagues. The AL right now has Mike Trout of the Angels, DJ LeMahieu of the Yankees, Alex Bregman and George Springer of the Astros, Carlos Santana of the Indians, Matt Chapman of the Athletics, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox, along with Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler of the Twins.

Trout was even money, Bregman was 18-1, Springer was 40-1, Chapman was 40-1, Bogaerts was 80-1, Santana, Devers and Kepler were all 100-1. LeMahieu and Polanco were not preseason faves.

The NL race for the MVP award is just as competitive. Christian Yelich of the Brewers, Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, Josh Bell of the Pirates, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman of the Braves, Anthony Rendon of the Nationals, Nolan Arenado of the Rockies, Javy Baez Jr. of the Cubs, Ketel Marte of the Diamondbacks, and Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres.

Arenado was 6-1, Freeman was 20-1, Yelich was 18-1, Baez Jr., Rendon, Bellinger and Acuna Jr. were all 25-1. Bell, Marte, and Tatis Jr. were not included as preseason competitors.

Here’s something to think about. Does it help to be on a winning team to have to win any of these awards? I’m not talking about as a rookie or even a veteran that bats in a lineup that scores a ton of runs. I know this works to a hitter’s advantage.   Case in point, pitching around Mickey Mantle certainly made it easier for Roger Maris to break the single-season home run record. What I am trying to say is, do you think that playing on a winning team sways the way the voters think?

As far as the Cy Young Award goes, wins, ERA, and K’s have to be considered. But, does it help a pitcher when he is part of a top-five pitching staff? Obviously, whether it be the Rookie of the Year, the Cy Young, or the MVP, the numbers must be stellar. Right now, any of these honors are still up for grabs.

Here’s a few facts: As far as the MVP goes, Trout has won it twice, while Yelich has won it once. They are the only two current candidates earning the award.

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We have three pitchers in both leagues that are prior Cy Young winners: Verlander and Greinke both won one, but Scherzer won the award three times.

Here are this week’s Best Bets (all records, stats, and trends are as of print and may change as can starting pitchers)

Wednesday

Nationals at Pirates: These two teams have only met once this season in mid-April at Nationals Park, with Pittsburgh taking two of three over Washington.

The Bucs send Joe Musgrove to the hill. The right-hander has a record of 8-11, with a 4.59 ERA, including a 2-4 record over his last nine turns. Patrick Corbin gets the nod for the Nationals. The lefty hurler is unbeaten in his last 11 starts, going 4-0, en route to a 9-5 record with a 3.34 ERA on the campaign, striking out 180 batters in 153.2 IP.

Washington is 7-1 the last eight games played vs. the NL Central while Pittsburgh is 1-6 the last seven games played vs. the NL East,The earlier matchup had lines ranging from -120 up to -175. If this line opens or rises above -150 or so, you can play the run line. NATIONALS

Marlins at Braves: Although they are atop the NL East, Atlanta cannot rest on its laurels. They lead the Nationals by 5.5 games at the start of the week and need every win they can get right now.

This series will add to their win column. They have decimated the Marlins, taking 10 of 13 meetings in 2019. The Braves average over 5.38 RPG at home, compared to the 3.41 RPG the Marlins account for on the road.

Julio Teheran gets the home start. Despite a 7-8 record, the right-hander has an ERA of just 3.71. The 28-year old has faced Miami four times this season, going 2-0 while allowing a mere two earned runs in 25 IP against them.

The Marlins send Caleb Smith to the mound. The left-hander owns an 8-6 record with a 3.63 ERA. In three turns against the Braves this season, the 28-year old is 1-1, yielding 12 earned runs in 16.2 IP in this matchup. Miami is 3-13 the last 16 games played overall. BRAVES RUN LINE

Phillies at Red Sox: Both teams are loaded with talent as both were projected to vie for league pennants. Prior to the start of the season, Philadelphia was 6-1 to win the NL and Boston was 13-4 to win the AL.

Right now, neither leads their division, nor owns a wild card spot. The Red Sox are 6.5 GB for an AL wild card and the Phillies are 2.0 GB for an NL wild card. I wouldn’t count out either team just yet. They do share some similarities. Both offenses can score and both pitching staffs are less than stellar (putting it mildly, LOL).

Boston ranks 3rd in scoring, averaging 5.79 RPG and 20th in pitching, with a Team ERA of 4.72. Philadelphia ranks 17th at the plate, accounting for 4.77 RPG and 17th on the mound, with a Team ERA of 4.59.

This matchup has Drew Smyly and Rick Porcello on the hill. Smyly has a 2-6 record, with a whopping ERA of 7.09. In his 14 starts (18 overall appearances), seven have gone over the total, including his last three turns.

Porcello owns an 11-9 record, with an ERA of 5.49. The RH has 25 appearances (all starts), with 17 of his turns going over the total, including eight of his last nine outings. The over is 5-0 in the Phillies’ last five Interleague games played. OVER

Last week: 1-1

Season: 29-21

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