Wow. There are some seriously great key matchups on this 2017 MLB Week 3 Weekend in Major League Baseball. Cleveland battles Minnesota. The Indians must find a way to make up ground on AL Central leading Detroit. The Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Arizona Diamondbacks in a top NL West showdown.
Washington battles the New York Mets in what could be the best baseball series of the weekend. The best interleague game this weekend might be on Sunday when the New York Yankees take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh. Check out my Top 4 picks for MLB!
2017 MLB Week 3 Weekend Preview
Thursday, April 20
Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins
Cleveland ace Corey Kluber is scheduled to start this Thursday versus the Minnesota Twins. Historically, Kluber has shut down Twin batters. Minnesota has a .206 batting average versus Kluber. They have 41 hits, 6 being home runs, from 199 at-bats versus Kluber. Kluber has struck out 64 batters from those 199 at-bats.
Minnesota counters with top pitcher Ervin Santana. Santana hasn’t had as much success versus Cleveland as Kluber has had versus Minnesota. The Indians bat .246 against Santana. Ervin has allowed 6 home-runs and 47 total hits from 191 at-bats against Cleveland batters.
Although Santana is worse against the Indians than Kluber is versus the Twins, it’s difficult for me to side with Cleveland in this battle on Thursday. The biggest issue I have with Cleveland is Corey Kluber’s lack of control that he’s shown so far. Kluber’s allowed 5 home runs in only 18.1 innings pitched. His ERA is 6.38. His WHIP is a horrendous 1.42.
Ervin Santana has a sub 1.00 ERA and a sub 1.00 WHIP. I like Minnesota to win by 2 runs on Thursday.
Pick: Minnesota run line if they’re favored
Friday, April 21
Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks
Dodgers’ starter Kenta Maeda has a 7.07 ERA, a 1-1 record, and a 1.36 WHIP in his first 3 starts of the season. He’s pitched a total of 14 innings. Versus Arizona, Maeda’s been great. The D’Backs have 19 hits from 93 at-bats versus Maeda. Only 2 of the 19 hits were home runs. Overall, the D’Backs bat .204 against Maeda with a low .267 OBP.
Arizona listed starter Taijuan Walker fared well versus the Los Angeles Dodgers the first time he faced them. Walker allowed 1 earned run off 4 hits in 5 innings of work. He struck out 7 Dodger batters.
Dodgers’ listed starter Kenta Maeda dominated during the first half of the 2016 MLB Season. Maeda absolutely showed up when he dominated almost every team he started against. That’s not the case in 2017.
Maeda has pitched worse in subsequent starts this season. He gave up 3 earned runs from 6 hits in 5 innings versus San Diego on April 4. On April 9, he allowed 4 earned runs from 5 hits in 5 innings versus Colorado. Versus Arizona on April 15, he allowed 4 earned runs off 4 hits in 4 innings.
Maeda is a veteran pitcher that spent years in the Japanese League. It’s going to be difficult for him to turn around his bad form. For one thing, he may not be pitching badly. What I mean by that is batters, after a full season of watching Maeda, may just have figured him out.
It happens a lot to pitchers that head to MLB after pitching in the Japanese League. Heck, it happened to Hideo Nomo back in the day with the Dodgers. Nomo was great for a season or two. Then, MLB batters figured out his delivery.
Walker is a solid pitcher. Maeda is having trouble. I don’t believe he’ll make the necessary adjustments in only 5 days. I think Arizona takes Maeda to the cleaners again.
Pick: Arizona run line if they’re the favorites
Saturday, April 22
Washington Nationals at New York Mets
The Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez has been almost as good as any pitcher in the National League this season. Gio has a 1.33 ERA. He’s got a 1.13 WHIP. In 20.1 innings pitched, he’s only allowed 3 earned runs. He’s also struck out 15 batters in those 20.1 innings pitched.
The Mets counter Gio with Matt “The Dark Knight” Harvey. Harvey appears back to his normal lock down self. His ERA of 2.45 isn’t better than Gonzalez’s, but his WHIP of .98 is. The Dark Knight has allowed a total of 5 earned runs in 17.2 innings pitched. He’s given up 15 hits in those 17.2 innings pitched.
On paper, this should be a pitcher’s duel. But, baseball games are played on diamond fields. They aren’t played on paper. Although so far both pitchers have overall been terrific, chink’s have shown up in Gonzalez’s armor and in Harvey’s armor.
Harvey was good in 6 innings against Miami in his last. But, he allowed 2 earned runs and walked 2. He hadn’t walked more than 1 batter in his previous 11.4 innings combined.
Gonzalez allowed 2 earned runs off 5 hits in 7.1 innings pitched in his last. He walked 3 batters. He hadn’t walked more than 2 batters in 13 combined innings before his latest start.
Which pitcher does the better job on Saturday? I’m siding with the New York Mets. The Mets bullpen has done a much better job this season than Washington’s bullpen. Although NYM’s relievers are 3-4 straight up in 7 games, the ERA is only 3.62.
Washington’s bullpen has an ERA of 6.25. Unless Washington comes up huge in the late innings, or The Dark Knight implodes, the Mets should win this game on the moneyline.
Pick: New York Mets moneyline
Sunday, April 23
New York Yankees at Pittsburgh Pirates
The Yankees believe they’ve found a great young pitcher in rookie Jordan Montgomery. In his debut start in The Show, Montgomery pitched 4.1 innings. He allowed 2 earned runs from 5 hits. He struck out 7. Overall, Montgomery has a 4.22 ERA, a 1-0 record, and he’s struck out 11 batters. That’s not bad.
The Pirates have listed Ivan Nova as their starter on April 23. So far this season, Nova’s been okay. He has a 2.25 ERA to go along with a .95 WHIP. He bounced back from a terrible game versus the Cincinnati Reds on April 12, where he allowed 3 earned runs from 8 hits and struck out only 1, to pitch 8 innings versus St. Louis on April 18.
Nova allowed 2 earned runs in only 5 hits in that game on April 18.
Sure, Nova was great against the Cardinals. But, St. Louis still beat the Pirates 2 to 1 even though Nova pitched lights out. In fact, Nova has a 1-2 straight up record even though he rarely allows base runners.
That’s a terrible sign. What it means is that the Pittsburgh Pirates can’t score enough runs to give their starter the lead even when their starter does as well as he possibly can.
The stats bear that out. Pittsburgh bats .228 as a team. The Pirates on base percentage is only .654. The Pirates have only 10 home runs on the season. That ranks a terrible 27th in MLB.
In baseball, you must not only prevent your opponent from scoring runs, you must score runs. The Pirates have an issue scoring runs on a consistent basis.
But, that’s not the only reason I think New York is the play on the moneyline in Sunday’s match up. First, I believe that the Yankees go off the dogs in this one. Second, the Yankees bullpen is one of the best in baseball.
NYY’s bullpen has a 1.36 ERA. Opponents bat .186 versus the Yankees’ bullpen. If Montgomery gets into any trouble early, the Yankees could just turn to their excellent relievers to bail him out.
I think NYY wins on the moneyline.
Pick: New York Yankees