Not All Is Bad In Cleveland
Coming out of the weekend, the hottest team in baseball is the Indians, who have won five straight games. Not only did they just sweep the Royals, they outscored them 20-2 over the last three days and now find themselves in first place in the American League Central. Typically, I might advise a strategy of “selling high” on the Tribe at this point, but their next opponent (Seattle) just came out on the wrong end of a sweep (in Texas) over the weekend. Now that said, the Mariners are the team with the slightly better run differential (though Cleveland is one-half game better in the standings). Remember though that Felix Hernandez is on the disabled list, so we won’t be seeing him in this series. The city of Cleveland is badly in need of some positive news right now. Might the Indians fill the void left by the Cavaliers?
A New Year
I think that most people would say that the Mets had a better 2015 compared to the Pirates. After all, the former made it all the way to the World Series while the latter was ousted in the Wild Card Game for a second consecutive season. However, the Mets were probably glad that they didn’t run into Pittsburgh in the playoffs considering they lost all six regular season meetings vs. the Bucs. Starting Monday, the two NL playoff hopefuls meet for the first time in 2016 for a three-game set at PNC Park. Don’t be surprised if the visitors are favored in every game though as they’ll be sending the trio of Matz-deGrom-Syndergaard out to the hill. The Pirates aren’t exactly playing well either as they’ve lost seven of their last nine games.
Best in the West
For a second consecutive season, it appears as if the oddsmakers have drastically undervalued the Texas Rangers. Last year, they led all of MLB in net units (+30.7) and the contingent from Arlington is doing the same again this year, currently having made backers 16.9 units of profit. They’ve won 12 of 15 and have averaged 6.0 runs in the nine games with Jurickson Profar in the lineup. But the Rangers aren’t the only hot thing in Texas right now - and I’m not talking about the weather. The Astros come into Arlington Monday on an 11-2 run themselves after sweeping Oakland over the weekend. Speaking of sweeps, that is what Texas has done to Houston both times these Lone Star State rivals have met this year. The revenge angle might make for a good play Monday, believe it or not.
WAG Of The Week:
Jaime Edmondson is a former Playboy Playmate Of The Month, a former police officer, a former Miami Dolphins' cheerleader, a 2-time contestant on the Amazing Race, and the current wife of Tampa Bay Rays' third baseman Evan Longoria. That is quite an eclectic list of gigs. (WAG courtesy of PSD RedZone)
* More on Profar – Initially recalled simply to fill the void left by the suspension of Rougned Odor, he has now hit safely in nine games (.390 average), batting leadoff. With Odor now back, Profar has spent the last two days in the designated hitter spot, replacing the struggling Prince Fielder. Consider that in nine games, Profar has 16 hits in 41 at-bats. Fielder has only 37 hits on nearly five times the number of AB’s (198).
* The season long suspension of Marlon Byrd was supposed to cripple Cleveland, especially in the power department. Enter rookie Tyler Naquin, who has hit three home runs in three games while batting .545 overall! I’m not sure that Cleveland can continue to count on this, however. Consider that Naquin has never hit more than 10 HR’s in any season down in the minors.
* Take the Rockies' pitching staff out of Coors Field and surprisingly, they're not half-bad! In fact, the staff ERA jumps from a 29th place ranking overall to 11th when factoring in only away games. That has a lot to do with Tyler Chatwood, who right now is the unquestioned “best road pitcher in baseball.” In five road starts, Chatwood has a 0.53 ERA and 0.891 WHIP. He starts Monday at Dodger Stadium against a lineup that is hitting below .200 its last seven games.
* I should probably mention the Cubs at some point, given their historic pace. One starter who hasn’t gotten enough love is Kyle Hendricks, who is second in all of baseball in WHIP (0.90) and is holding opposing hitters to a .201 average. Hendricks was just one inning away from tossing back to back complete games when manager Joe Maddon pulled him in a 7-2 win over the Dodgers on Thursday. We’ll see Hendricks again Tuesday against the rapidly sinking Phillies, who are 29th in runs scored.
Speaking of the Cubs, they’ve gone Under in 9 of their last 10 games.
Wednesday's Weather Report:
* There will be thunderstorms in the area and a 50 percent chance of rain this afternoon for the Cubs at Phillies game. There will also be an impressive 25 mph wind blowing in from left field. The total for today is set at 7.5.
* The sun will be shining in Detroit today for the final game of the series between the Tigers and Blue Jays, but this game will feature a stiff 20 mph wind blowing straight out to center field for the duration of the game. The total is currently 9.0.
* The Mets and Pirates are getting it on in Pittsburgh this evening and the skies will be clear but there will be a 15 mph wind blowing out to center. The total for Wednesday evening is set at 7.0.
* It's going to be a typical San Francisco night for baseball tonight for the game between the Giants and Red Sox. Partly cloudy, cool temperatures (60's), high humidity (85 percent), and a 25 mph wind blowing straight out toward McCovey Cove in right field. The total is set at 6.5.