Early season oddities sign of MLB surprises to come

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The first week of the 2013 season is in the books and already we have witnessed some oddities that may be an indicator this could be a season of many surprises.

We’ve already been treated to a near perfect game as last Tuesday Texas’ Yu Darvish came within one batter of the 24th perfecto in MLB history.

This past weekend saw Cleveland and Tampa Bay play three shutouts with the Rays winning twice and the Indians taking the series finale 13-0.

In fact, Sunday saw a pair of 13-0 results as Boston won by that same score at Toronto.

And those were not the biggest shutout margins of the week. On Friday the Cincinnati Reds defeated Washington 15-0.

Through Sunday 91 games have been played and there have been 20 shutouts!

Yet through the first week of play there have been more games that have gone OVER the total (48) than stayed UNDER (41), in addition to two pushes.

We’ve had games with final scores of 10-9, 10-8, 9-8 and 8-7 (three times)! Home teams have gone 49-42, which is a shade under 54 percent and in line with long standing historical standards for home team performance.

This past Sunday also saw several of baseball’s top hurlers get hit hard as Stephen Strasburg, Matt Cain, RA Dickey, David Price, Jered Weaver and Cole Hamels each failed to last six innings. This sextet compiled an ERA of 13.19 and a WHIP of 2.42 in their combined 29 1/3 innings pitched.

It boggles the mind to think of what’s in store after a week (and a Sunday) such as we’ve just witnessed.

Bring it on. We can’t wait!

Here’s a look at four series to be played this weekend.

Braves at Nationals: These are the favored teams in the NL East and both teams have gotten off to winning starts. The Nationals arguably have the better starting pitching but Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel gives the Braves the game’s most dominant closer. Both teams have solid offenses.

Atlanta had the better stats in the season’s first week but relying on such a short sample of games to draw definitive conclusions would be foolhardy. Rather, it’s still prudent to rely on established levels of performance until current season results suggest a sharp change in that level.

Recommended plays:

• UNDER 8 or higher in any matchup.

• UNDER 7 or higher if the Nationals’ Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez or Jordan Zimmermann oppose Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm or Kris Medlen.

• Nats +130 or more in any matchup.

• Braves +120 or more in any matchup.

Dodgers at D’backs: Both teams are off to winning starts. Arizona has done it with the bats, averaging 6.2 runs per game. The Dodgers are doing it with their pitching, allowing just 1.7 runs per game. The Dodgers’ supposedly potent offense has gotten off to a slow start, scoring just 17 runs in their six games.

The Diamondbacks’ pitching has been closer to average. Arizona is more of a hitter’s park so the Dodgers’ bats should be more productive than they were in their week of games at home.

Recommended plays:

• Dodgers +115 or more in any matchup.

• Dodgers -125 or less in starts by Clayton Kershaw, Josh Beckett or Zach Grienke.

• D’backs +140 or more against Kershaw or +125 or more against Beckett or Greinke.

• OVER 8.5 or lower in any matchup not involving Kershaw or Beckett.

• UNDER 8 or higher if Kershaw opposes Ian Kennedy.

White Sox at Indians: Cleveland is a fashionable choice among many baseball observers to be this season’s version of 2012’s Baltimore or Oakland. The Tribe is off to a 3-3 start and has gotten balanced production both at the plate and on the mound. The White Sox are 4-2 and, as expected, have been better on the mound than at the dish.

Lefty Chris Sale is emerging as a solid number one starter, and veteran Jake Peavy appears fully recovered from the injuries that hampered him a few years back. Cleveland’s staff has potential but is still developing. Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez are the top two starters.

Recommended plays:

• White Sox as underdogs of any price in any matchup.

• White Sox -120 or less in starts by Sale or Peavy.

• OVER 8.5 or lower in games not started by Sale or Peavy.

• Indians as underdogs of any price not facing Sale or Peavy.

• Indians +140 or more against Sale or Peavy.

Tigers at A’s: These teams meet for the first time since that wildly entertaining ALDS series last season when Detroit took a 2-0 lead only to be tied by the Athletics before ace Justin Verlander led the Tigers to a 6-0 win in Game 5. Both teams again have outstanding starting pitching but the Tigers have a huge edge on offense.

That edge has not been reflected in the first week of play as Oakland is averaging 5.5 runs per game while Detroit has struggled to average just 4.0 rpg. That imbalance won’t last long although both teams could be more effective on the mound than at the plate at a ballpark that has historically featured limited scoring.

Recommended plays:

• UNDER 8 or higher in any matchup.

• UNDER 7 or higher if Detroit’s Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer oppose Brett Anderson.

• A’s as underdogs in any matchup except at least +140 against Verlander or +125 facing Scherzer.

• Tigers as underdogs of +125 or more against any Oakland starter.

Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]

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About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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