Cream rising to the top in MLB

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As we head to memorial Day weekend, most of the preseason favorites are either atop or close to leading their divisions.

The Dodgers have a 5.5-game cushion in the NL West. The Cubs head up the NL Central by 1.5 games, as the division is currently the most competitive, housing four teams with winning records. The NL East is where we see the Majors’ biggest surprise, as the Nationals are sitting in fourth place, eight games behind the Phillies.

It took two months, but over the weekend, the Yankees took over first place in the AL East, despite a laundry list of injuries. The Twins lead the Indians by 4.5 games in the AL Central. These are clearly the divisions two strongest representatives. Cleveland is starting to hit its stride.

However, watch out for Minnesota, as the Twins are equally good on the road as they are at home (15-8, 15-8). To no one’s surprise, the team with the largest division lead is the Astros, who have an 8.5-game lead. They are the only winning team in the AL West and barring a miracle, are cemented in the division’s top spot.

With all due respect to the National League, I just don’t see the same potency and consistency as I do in the American League. Just looking at Philly, Chicago, and L.A., despite all being good teams, all three are having issues on the road. Winning away from home is how I gauge a team’s true strength. The AL’s top three teams, New York, Minnesota, and Houston all sport solid road records.

It is early and there is a ton of baseball left, but I make the American League, who has taken the last two Fall Classics, on track to continue their streak.

As the MLB season is starting to settle in, so am I. I was 2-0 last week right here in Gaming Today with my picks and got everyone paid. Here are this week’s Best Bets (all records, stats, and trends are as of pres time Tuesday afternoon and may change as can starting pitchers):

Wednesday

Reds at Brewers: The NL Central’s cellar-dwelling Reds visit Miller Park to face the second place Brewers. Long gone are the days of The Big Red Machine. Cincy is just 9-15 as a road team this season, accounting for a mere, 3.33 RPG.

One of the few bright spots for the Reds has been pitcher Luis Castillo. The right-hander who gets the road start here, is 5-1 with a 1.90 ERA on the season, striking out 76 batters in 61.2 IP.

The earlier series was played at Great American Ball Park, with all three matchups going under the total. These division rivals have played to seven straight unders, going back to last season.

Milwaukee returns home after a long 10-game road trip. They give Zach Davies the nod. The righty is 5-0 with an ERA of 1.54 in 2019.

The under is 38-14-1 in the Reds’ last 53 on the road, 19-7-1 in the Reds’ last 27 vs. the NL Central. The under is 4-1 in the Brewers’ last five vs. righty starters, 5-0 in Milwaukee’s last five vs. the NL Central, and 7-3 in their last 10 overall. UNDER

Braves at Giants: Don’t put too much stock into the fact that San Francisco won its last two outings. The Giants are still just 5-5 in their last 10 and sit last in the West, 9.5 games back. 

If you look closely, you’ll see that those last 10 contests were against Arizona, Toronto, Cincinnati, and Colorado, only one team with a winning record.

Atlanta did drop its last game, but are still 7-3 their last 10, and are perched in second place in the East, just 2.5 games behind Philadelphia. By the way, their last 10 contests were against Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Arizona — all winning teams.

The Braves (11-10) average more than a run and half (4.81) a game on the road, than do the Giants at home (3.19), where they have a 9-12 mark. Max Fried is off to the best start of his career as the left-hander owns a 6-2, 2.86 record, fanning 46 in 50.1 IP.

Jeff Samardzija has not has a significant winning season as a starter in his 14-year career. The right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.69 ERA this year. He is not a power pitcher, with just 34 K’s in 46.1 IP.

The Giants have trouble with the NL East, going 1-7 the last eight vs. the division. They are also 17-37 the last 54 vs. teams with a winning record. BRAVES

Athletics at Indians: No matter how successful some teams are, there are certain matchups, despite lowly opposition, that just don’t have a happy endings. We see one such case here today.

The Indians have had real problems when it comes the Athletics. Pay no mind to the fact that the A’s are dead-last in the West; they are the Indians’ kryptonite. They have taken two of three this season and seven of the last 10 vs. the Tribe.

Oakland has feasted on the entire division, going 42-12 the last 54 vs. AL Central foes. Moreover, they are 6-1 the last seven vs. teams with a winning record.

Frankie Montas takes the mound here. The right-hander is 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA, whiffing 52 batters in 54.0 IP. Cleveland sends youngster Jefry Rodriguez to the bump. The righty, who is making just his 14th start, is 1-3 with a 3.45 mark on the campaign, with only 20 K’s in 31.1 IP.

The A’s are one of baseball’s highest scoring road teams, lighting up scoreboards for an astounding 5.71 RPG. ATHLETICS

Last week: 2-0

Season: 10-7

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