It’s Week 19 in the 2017 MLB Regular Season. With about a month left in the regular season, teams on the cusp of a playoff berth are scrambling to lock the door on their competition. I’ve chosen 4 games this weekend that includes MLB squads who must win to lock those doors.
2017 MLB Week 19 Weekend Preview and Picks
On Thursday, August 31, the greatest rivalry in all of sports once again takes place. The New York Yankees host the Boston Red Sox. On Friday, Arizona battles Colorado in one of the more important MLB Series of the Week.
I’m previewing and making a pick in Saturday’s match up between Cleveland and Detroit. Every game from here until the end of the regular season is big for the Tribe. Cleveland is only a half a game ahead of Boston for the 2-seed in the AL Playoffs.
I’m sticking with the AL Central Division in my game preview and pick for Sunday. Kansas City is in a desperate battle with Minnesota for the 5th and final seed in the AL Playoffs. The Royals head to the Twin Cities to battle rival Minnesota this weekend.
Thursday, Aug. 31
Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
This Thursday, the Red Sox send pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound to battle the Yankees. Rodriguez hasn’t yet become consistent enough to serve as the Red Sox third pitcher in the playoffs. Since coming back from an injury that kept him sidelined for a long time, his ERA has gone up to 4.19. His WHIP is now at 1.24. His record is 4 and 4.
The Yankees counter Rodriguez with the ace they acquired from Oakland, Sonny Gray. Although Gray’s record since arriving to New York is 2 and 3 straight up, he’s done an excellent job since putting on pinstripes. Gray hasn’t allowed more than 2 earned runs in any one of his 5 starts as a Yankee.
Yes, Rodriguez appears to be having control issues. Versus Baltimore on August 26, Eduardo allowed 5 earned runs off 7 hits in 6.2 innings pitched. He walked 1 batter while striking out 7. The good news is that Rodriguez fell apart in the second inning before settling down.
Another piece of good news is that Rodriguez faces a team on Thursday that he’s dominated. Eduardo last saw the Yankees on August 11. He pitched 6 innings, and allowed only 2 hits. He gave up 0 runs while he walked 2 and struck out 7.
If Rodriguez shows up on Thursday and dominates the Yankees again, New York could be in a world of hurt, right?
Maybe. Maybe not. Although Rodriguez was great, the Yankees beat Boston 5 to 4 on August 11. Boston’s relievers fell apart. There’s nothing to suggest Red Sox relievers won’t have issues again even if Eduardo Rodriguez pitches a terrific game.
With that being written, I still like Boston to beat the Yankees. Sonny Gray has pitched 1 so-so game while a New York Yankee. It was against Boston on August 20. Gray allowed 2 earned runs off 7 hits in 5 innings pitched. He walked 2 batters.
That wasn’t the worst of it. The worst of it was Gray not striking out a single Red Sox. In 5 innings, Gray couldn’t hang a single K onto a team with batters that regularly strikeout. That’s the reason I like Boston.
I’m going Red Sox money line.
Pick: Boston Red Sox money line
Friday, Sep. 1
Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies
D’Backs vs Rockies could be the most exciting series this weekend. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies are only a game apart for the 4th seed and 5th seed in the NL Playoffs. On Friday, Arizona is listed as starting Taijuan Walker.
Walker has a 3.55 ERA to go along with a 7 and 7 record. His WHIP is 1.29. He’s faced Colorado batters 90 times. The Rockies have 27 hits versus Walker. 4 of the 27 hits went for home runs. Colorado bats .300 versus Arizona’s listed starter.
Colorado counters Walker with Kyle Freeland. Freeland remains one of Colorado’s most consistent starters. He has a 4.81 ERA, his record is 11 and 8, his WHIP is 1.40. Freeland, surprisingly, has only faced D’Back batters 21 times. AZ has 5 hits from those 21 at-bats. The BA is .238. None of the 5 hits Freeland has allowed to Zona has gone for extra bases.
Although Taijuan Walker’s numbers versus Arizona aren’t that great, he has stepped it up in his last couple of starts. Walker allowed 0 earned runs off 7 hits in 5.1 innings on August 21. The D’Backs beat the New York Mets 3 to 2.
In his last start, on August 26, Walker was equally as impressive. He pitched 6.1 innings in that game. He allowed 1 earned run. The earned run was a home run. Taijuan only allowed 4 total hits while walking 1 and striking out 3.
Could Taijuan continue on his hot streak at Coors Field this Friday? I think he can. Taijuan Walker last faced the Colorado Rockies on July 2. In that game, he was fantastic. He pitched 7 innings, and allowed a single earned run. He allowed 1 earned run off 6 hits, and struck out 8. Arizona beat Colorado 4 to 3.
I expect Zona to be the dog in this match up since it takes place in Colorado. My money’s going to be on Arizona and Taijuan Walker to pull off the upset. I like AZ on the money line.
Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks money line
Saturday, Sep. 2
Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers
Cleveland appears to be gearing up for another World Series run. The Tribe is only about 5 games behind Houston for the top seed in the AL Playoffs. They send their ace pitcher, Corey Kluber, to the mound for this Saturday contest versus AL Central rival Detroit.
Kluber’s my pick to win this year’s Cy Young Award. His ERA of 2.63 is terrific. His WHIP of .83 is close to amazing. But, the real reason I favor Kluber to win the Cy Young is because of his 13 and 4 record. Oh, the 215 strikeouts in 160.4 innings pitched isn’t bad either.
Detroit sends Jordan Zimmermann to the hill to battle Cleveland. Zimmermann’s had a terrible 2017. He’s only struck out 94 batters in over 145 innings pitched. His ERA is 6.08. His WHIP is 1.55. Zimmermann allowed 7 earned runs in 3 straight starts earlier this month. The Twins, Dodgers, and Yankees all hung 7 onto Zim before he bounced back with a quality effort versus the Colorado Rockies on August 28.
This game won’t make you rich. Even backing Cleveland on the run line, which is what I’m going to do, won’t make you rich. Don’t expect Zim and the Tigers to be favored over Kluber and the Tribe on either the money line or the run line.
Cleveland should win this battle by at least 3 runs. The Indians bat a ridiculous .297 versus Jordan Zimmerman. They’ve got 27 hits from 97 at-bats. They’ve hit 4 home runs. 6 of the 27 hits have gone for doubles. If they run Zim off the bag early, Cleveland should keep scoring runs. Detroit’s bullpen is ranked 30th of 30 teams in MLB based on average ERA per game. Tiger relievers have a 5.28 ERA.
The Tribe rolls in this match up.
Pick: Cleveland Indians run line
Sunday, Sep. 3
Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins
It’s starting to look like the 5th seed in the AL Playoffs is going to either KC or Minnesota. This weekend series between the 2 AL Central Division rivals could go a long way in determining which team actually makes it to the postseason.
Kansas City’s hopes in this game rests on the arm of Ian Kennedy. Kennedy has a 5.47 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP, and a 4 and 10 record. Minnesota bats .246 versus Ian Kennedy.
Minnesota’s hopes rest with Dillon Gee. Gee has a 3.53 ERA. His WHIP is 1.29. His record is 1 and 1. Gee has faced KC batters 35 times. He’s allowed only 8 hits for a .229 average.
This is the first time the Twins are facing the Royals in the second half of the season. Minnesota did battle KC 11 times in the first half of the season. They dominated Kansas City going 8 and 3 straight up in those 11 games.
Could Minnesota dominate KC again this weekend? I think they will. Kansas City has fallen off after getting hot towards the end of the first half and into the second half. I just don’t believe the Royals are ready to beat a determined Minnesota Twins squad on their own diamond.
I’m going run line in this one. Gee and the Twins should be favored, which means the value is on backing Minny at -1.5.
Pick: Minnesota Twins run line