As always, this weekend in Major League Baseball doesn’t lack drama. Two of the best teams in the American League, East leading New York and West leading Houston, battle it out in a 3-game set starting this Thursday.
2017 MLB Week 6 Weekend Preview and Picks
2017 MLB Week 6 Weekend show Thursday’s matchup as the one that makes my weekend preview blog. Colorado hosts the L.A. Dodgers this weekend. L.A. is only 2 games behind the Rockies for first place in the NL West. I analyze Friday’s matchup between the teams. My Saturday game is Philadelphia vs Washington while Sunday’s game has the Arizona Diamondbacks hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Thursday, May 11
Houston Astros at New York Yankees
On Thursday, Houston sends ace Dallas Keuchel to the mound to face the second best scoring team in Major League Baseball. Kuechel has had great success versus the Yankees during his career. NYY bats .187 versus Keuchel. They only have 14 hits from 75 at-bats. Kuechel’s overall numbers are impressive: 5-0 record, 1.88 ERA, .85 WHIP and 41 strikeouts.
The Yankees’ listed starter is Michael Pineda. Pineda’s pitched well so far this season. His ERA is a good 3.18 while his WHIP is a fantastic .98. Pineda’s got a nice 3-1 record to go along with 43 strikeouts.
The Astros have hit Pineda well in the past. They average .300 versus Pineda. Carlos Correa is the star Stro against the Yankee starter. Correa has a terrific .625 batting average versus Pineda. His 5 hits from 6 at-bats, 2 of the hits were home runs, makes him the biggest Houston thorn in Pineda’s side on Thursday.
Because the Astros can hit Pineda, Houston’s got this one in the bag, right? Not really. Although Dallas Kuechel has pitched well on the road this season, his ERA is only 3.00, he’s never faced budding Yankee star Aaron Judge.
My gut tells me that Keuchel, due to reputation, makes Houston the favorites in this match up. It’s rare to get the chance to bet on the Yankees as a dog at home. I say take advantage. I like New York.
Pick: New York Yankees
Friday, May 12
Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies
L.A. listed starter Brandon McCarthy has a shoulder problem. There’s a good chance that Monday’s starter, Alex Wood, also starts this game on Friday. Wood isn’t that bad versus the Rockies. Colorado bats .268 versus Wood. They bat .292 versus McCarthy. Don’t think for a moment that Dodger manager Dave Roberts doesn’t know the Rockies’ batting averages versus both starters.
Colorado should have no trouble starting Tyler Chatwood on Friday. L.A. has smoked Chatwood in the past. They average .284 against him. They have 33 hits from 116 at-bats versus Colorado’s starter.
Having to put Hyun-Jin Ryu on the 15-day disabled list is a big blow to the Dodgers. L.A. could have used Hyun-Jin this weekend versus NL West leading Colorado. Oh, well. Those are the breaks.
The problem that Colorado has is that Chatwood, a decent pitcher, is worse at Coors Field than he is anywhere else in the league. Chatwood has a 5.40 ERA at Coors Field this season. His away ERA is a much better 3.98.
Then again, nobody pitches well at Coors Field. This game could come down to the bullpens. Both teams have a decent bullpen. The difference is that Colorado’s bullpen, although having a higher ERA than what the Dodgers bullpen has, 3.81 to 2.98, is 8 and 1 on the season.
What it means is that Colorado’s relievers are used to bailing out struggling pitchers. It tells me that Colorado has a great shot of beating the Dodgers by at least 2 runs in this game.
Pick: Colorado Rockies run line
Saturday, May 13
Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals
Young Vince Velasquez hasn’t responded that well as the man in Philadelphia. His ERA is 5.94. His WHIP is 1.35. But, in 59 at-bats, the Nationals have yet discovered how to have success versus Velasquez. Washington only bats .237 versus Double-V.
The Nats start Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been as good as he’s ever been this season. Gonzalez has 34 strikeouts to go along with his 3-0 record. His ERA is a stunning 1.64. His WHIP is somewhat high at 1.25, but he’s only allowed 30 hits and 4 home runs in 134 at-bats this season.
Do the Phillies have any shot against Washington on Saturday? No, the Phillies don’t. The Nationals are the best team in the National League. Their starting pitcher on Saturday is on fire while the Phillies starting pitcher appears to be going through a sort of adjustment season.
Sometimes, the most obvious thing in the world is what you should do as a sports handicapper. Velasquez is decent enough against Washington batters for the Nationals to possibly offer okay odds on the run line. I don’t believe Washington offers above even money odds to beat the Phillies on Saturday. But, I do think that Washington’s odds are no worse than -120. To me, that makes Washington the bet of the day.
Philly batters have faced Gio Gonzalez 183 times. They have 36 hits, 4 being home runs, for a .196 batting average. Howie Kendrick has struck out 8 times from 23 at-bats versus Gonzalez. Freddy Galvis has done better than Kendrick against Gio. Galvis has 2 of the 4 home runs. He also has 10 total hits from 28 at-bats versus Gonzalez. Still, Galvis only bats .263 versus Gio.
I just don’t see any way, unless Gonzalez gets hurt in his Monday start versus the Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia wins this game on Saturday. I’ll be on Washington on the run line…big league.
Pick: Washington Nationals run line
Sunday, May 14
Pittsburgh Pirates at Arizona Diamondbacks
2 to 3 years ago, a lot of talk revolved around Midwest Region teams Pittsburgh and Kansas City. KC even won a World Series in 2015. Pittsburgh appeared to be on their way to dominating the NL Central.
Things change quickly in baseball. KC might be the worst team in MLB while Pittsburgh is the worst team in the NL Central Division. The Pirates send Ivan Nova to the mound on Sunday hoping to get something going versus the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The 33-year-old Nova is having a great season. His ERA is a fantastic 2.14. His WHIP is .88. The only issue for the Pirates is that Trevor Williams is listed to start on Saturday. If Williams doesn’t start, he may not since it would be only his second start ever, Nova might pitch on Saturday instead of Sunday.
There’s no reason to believe that Arizona won’t start underrated Robbie Ray on Sunday. Ray, like every starter in the rotation, has trouble at Chase Field. I’m not sure why teams like Arizona and Colorado developed ballparks that are so hitter friendly. That’s what Ray must deal with.
Ray’s ERA is 3.47. His WHIP is 1.27. He’s one of the better strikeout pitchers in the NL with 49 from 131 at-bats.
You’d think it would be tough for me to choose the winner of this game given that I’m not sure Nova starts on Sunday. Nope.
I’m all over the Arizona Diamondbacks in this matchup. Don’t get me wrong, Pittsburgh might have the lead until Ivan Nova leaves. I don’t care. Pittsburgh’s bullpen is 6-6 on the season. They’ve blown 6 saves this year. Arizona’s bullpen is by no means a fantastic unit. But even though the D’Backs bullpen has a higher ERA than Pittsburgh’s, Arizona’s BP is 6 and 2 on the season.
A lot of AZ’s bullpen success has to do with the D’Backs’ offense. Arizona averages 4.82 runs per game. The Pirates average 3.77 runs per game.
I like Zona on the run line.
Pick: Arizona Diamondback run line