Pitching vs. Hitting. In this short season, does the long ball still count for a lot?
We all enjoy watching home runs. You certainly see more game highlights of baseballs clearing the fences than you do strikeouts.
Looking into this, I found something interesting. The Top-5 home run hitting teams (Braves, Padres, White Sox, Dodgers and Twins) are all either in first or second place in their divisions.
However, of the Top-10 pitching staffs (Dodgers, Indians, White Sox, A’s, Twins, Cardinals, Rays, Padres, Cubs and Blue Jays), nine are in first or second place, with just Cleveland sitting in third in a tight AL Central race. Who didn’t make the cut? The Astros and Marlins, which despite second place standings, are both struggling.
This tells us that once again, pitching is the key to getting to the postseason. I guess some things never change.
Here are this week’s Best Bets (all records, stats, and trends are as of Tuesday and may change as can starting pitchers):
Twins at White Sox: As of Tuesday, only one starter is scheduled here and that’s Kenta Maeda. The right-hander has been solid in 2020, sporting a 5-1 record with a 2.43 ERA. The Osaka-born pitcher won his only start against Chicago this year, his first outing back at the end of July. That game closed the Twins a -154 favorite. He has been favored in eight of his nine starts, ranging from -130 all the way up to -305. I expect him to come in here a favorite again as Minny has taken five of eight meetings in this rivalry.
But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, baseball is a game of streaks. And, there is no AL team running as hot as Chicago right now. The White Sox are 9-1 the last 10, including winners of five straight. They have a chance here to put some distance between them and the second place Twins team here. They are averaging almost a full run more per game than does Minnesota.
The Twins are just 2-7 the last nine on the road. The White Sox are 13-3 the last 16 at home, 5-0 the last five vs. righty starters and 22-6 the last 28 vs. the AL Central. If Maeda goes and Chicago are ‘dogs here take the White Sox on the run line. WHITE SOX RUN LINE
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Rangers at Astros: Outside of Oakland, no AL West team is worth laying big money. The Houston Astros are a far cry from the team they were the last several years. With most of the season in the rear view, they aren’t even playing .500 ball (23-24). This is just the second series between these two division rivals, with Houston barely taking the first, 2-1.
It looks like right-hander Jordan Lyles (1-4, 7.80) and lefty Framer Valdez (3-3, 4.08) square off here. Neither pitcher has shown any signs of promise. As a matter of fact, neither has either staff.
The Astros are 0-5 the last five vs. RH starters and 2-9 the last 11 overall. They are just not good enough to lay big wood with. I like the Rangers plus a run and a half. RANGERS RUN LINE
Dodgers at Rockies: There is no question Los Angeles is the best team in the Majors. But with San Diego winning eight in a row and sitting just 1.5 GB in the NL West, the Dodgers need every win they can muster right now. They have gotten the better of just about every opponent they have faced in 2020 and the Rockies are no exception. LA has taken four of six meetings with Colorado, manhandling them in the four victories.
Pitchers have not been named as of yet, but it won’t matter as the Dodgers’ staff tops both leagues with a Team ERA of 3.02. The Rockies staff ranks 28th with a Team ERA of 5.50.
Colorado is 2-8 the last 10 during Game 1 of a series, 1-6 the last seven as a home ‘dog, and 4-11 the last 15 overall at home. Los Angeles, which owns the best away record in baseball at 17-7 also averages nearly a full run per game more than Colorado. Lay 1.5 runs with L.A. DODGERS RUN LINE
Last week: 0-3