There are few coincidences in baseball. This will prove to be true when making your decisions on which teams to select when making wagers.
The American League’s best teams: Minnesota, Houston, New York, Tampa Bay, and Boston all rank in the top-six in the league in batting. The only anomaly being Los Angeles, which ranks 4th and sports a sub-.500 record (29-30).
Each one of the AL’s top-five teams also rank in the top-seven in pitching. All except for Oakland, which ranks fifth, but is also barely a sub-.500 squad (29-30).
The National League is a bit more peculiar, but still we see a pattern. Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, and Colorado own the league’s best records. The East and Central divisions are the tightest in baseball, with seven and five games separating the top-four teams in each. The Dodgers lead the NL in both hitting and pitching. The Phillies rank 11th in batting, but yet own the NL’s second-best overall record. The Diamondbacks and Pirates both rank in the top-five in hitting in the NL, but both are at or flirting with .500 records.
As far as pitching goes, the Reds are the only surprise, ranking second overall, but at 27-32, are the Central’s worst team.
My point is that the better teams in all of the Majors are winning because of both their pitching and hitting. So when making a play, look at the bottom of the lineup as well as the overall pitching staff. Do this and you will stay in the plus column.
Here are this week’s Best Bets (all records, stats, and trends are as of Tuesday and may change, as can starting pitchers):
Marlins at Brewers: This is an interesting matchup as we see one of the NL’s best teams facing its worst. However, we may see a more attractive line due to who is taking the mound for Milwaukee.
Jimmy Nelson gets the nod here. It’ll be Nelson’s first MLB action since injuring his shoulder in September 2017, where he had a 12-6, 3.49 campaign going. He spent more than a year recovering from major surgery. Wednesday will be the right-hander’s 30th birthday as he faces a Miami lineup that accounts for a mere 3.39 RPG on the road, nearly two RPG less than does Milwaukee at home (5.24 RPG).
The Marlins have had their problems with just about every team in baseball. But when it comes to the Brewers, it really gets ugly as they are 0-4 the last four at Miller Park and 3-7 the last 10 overall. They send Sandy Alcantara to the hill. The righty is 2-5 with a 4.08 ERA on the season with only 41 K’s in 64.0 IP.
Miami is 6-16 the last 22 vs. RH starters, 15-44 the last 59 on the road, and 1-9 the last 10 vs. the NL Central. Milwaukee is 5-1 the last six vs. RH starters, 8-3 the last 11 at home, and 14-6 the last 20 vs. the NL East. BREWERS RUN LINE
Rays at Tigers: Coming into this series, Tampa Bay had lost three in a row (all to Minnesota), but playing Detroit will get them off the schneid. This is the first meeting of the season for these AL rivals. The Rays won three straight and six of the last eight meetings in 2018.
The Tigers are one of baseball’s poorest home teams, sporting a 9-17 mark at Comerica Park, where they average just 3.33 RPG. Compare that to one of the league’s best away teams, the Rays, which own an 18-8 road record, accounting for 4.62 RPG.
Spencer Turnbull is a good pitcher. The right-hander has a 2.84 ERA in 2019, but is just 3-4 in 12 starts. Run support is obviously an issue. Tampa Bay sends Charlie Morton to the bump. The veteran righty is off to a 6-0, 2.54 start with 83 K’s in 67.1 IP. The 35-year old is proving to be like fine wine ... getting better with age, as he is on a 35-10 run the last three seasons.
Detroit is 5-16 the last 21 at home and 4-14 the last 18 overall. RAYS RUN LINE
Astros at Mariners: Houston continues to soar while Seattle continues to spiral. The Astros are perched atop the AL West at 40-20, winning seven of the last nine, with an 8.5-game cushion to begin the week. The Mariners dwell in the cellar at 25-37, dropping 13 of the last 16, and 16.0 GB.
This matchup is all about the pitching. RHP Brad Peacock is 5-2 with a 3.17 record, fanning 61 batters in 59.2 IP. Seattle’s Mike Leake is 4-6 with a 4.71 mark with only 51 K’s in 72.2 IP.
Houston’s lineup ranks in the top-10 in every major category. Leake is not a power pitcher, which is what a team needs to compete with the dangerous Astros’ offense. Houston swept Seattle 3-0 in the earlier series. When it comes to bullpens, the Astros own the second-ranked staff with a team ERA of 3.37. The Mariners own the 29th ranked staff with a team ERA of 5.29. ASTROS RUN LINE
Astros at Mariners: If you liked my Wednesday play on the Astros, Thursday’s is going to be twice as nice .
Houston is red-hot, coming off a three-game road sweep of Oakland while Seattle is ice-cold, on a 2-5 home stand (1-2 vs. Texas, 1-3 vs. Los Angeles). Justin Verlander is having another stellar campaign, sporting a 9-2, 2.27 record, whiffing 103 batters in 87.1 IP. On the flip side, Tommy Milone is 1-1 with a 3.60 mark, making just his fourth start of the season.
The Astros are 40-13 the last 53 vs. teams with a losing record, 58-26 the last 84 on the road, and 38-15 the last 53 overall. The Mariners are 2-11 the last 13 vs. the AL West, 1-5 the last six at home.
As I said earlier, it’s all about the pitching. ASTROS RUN LINE
Last week: 2-1
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