MLB Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 4/22/2013
It's never wise to read too much into any one series being as there are around 50 of them for each Major League Baseball team every season. However, the Detroit Tigers sure appear somewhat overrated after they were swept in Anaheim over the weekend.
Detroit remains the Sportsbook.ag World Series favorite at +800 and AL pennant favorite at +300, but it's clear the team is a bit flawed. Entering a series early last week in Seattle, the Tigers led MLB by far with a .307 batting average. However, since a 6-2 series-opening win against the Mariners, the Tigers have scored a total of just six runs in the past five games, the past four of which have been losses. Really it's been six games, because one of those went 14 innings and another 13. The Tigers were held to one run over three games for the first time in Manager Jim Leyland's tenure.
The Angels entered the Tigers series at 4-10 and with the majors' worst ERA at 6.07 but outscored the Tigers 22-4. The slump has dropped Detroit to No. 4 in the majors with a .272 average. I wouldn't panic too much, though. Victor Martinez doesn't look good, hitting ,167 with four RBI. But Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are all well above .300 and have combined for eight homers and 48 RBI. The Tigers also rarely play well in L.A. -- they were swept out there last year, too. Now Detroit is home for nine games starting Tuesday night against the Royals. The Tigers host the NL-favored Braves this weekend in a big series, but Atlanta is set up to miss Justin Verlander (Detroit still will be a slight series favorite) as he is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against Kansas City. Verlander also was unavailable in the Angels series. The Tigers are very capable of losing any series in which he doesn't pitch.
Rockies Might Be Fool's Gold
Pretty much every expert I read had the Colorado Rockies finishing fourth or fifth in the NL West this season after last year's 64-98 disaster. But so far, Walt Weiss is an early favorite for National League Manager of the Year with the Rockies atop the division at 13-5.
Colorado is No. 2 in the majors in runs (104), No. 1 in batting average (.282) and No. 2 in homers (28). It had an eight-game winning streak snapped in Sunday's loss to Arizona, which was the Rockies' first home defeat in nine games so far.
I'm not buying the success. Yes, Carlos Gonzalez (.364, 4 HR, 12 RBI) and Troy Tulowitzki (.328, 6 HR, 17 RBI) are star-caliber players when healthy -- which is rare for Tulo. But the starting pitchers have vastly overachieved (11 quality starts) and the best of that bunch, Jhoulys Chacin, is on the 15-day disabled list with a back injury, which is never a good thing. The Rockies also have been able to fatten up on some bad teams. They are a combined 9-0 against the Padres and Mets but were swept by the Giants. The schedule is about to get a lot more challenging. After hosting the Braves for three, these are the Rockies' next five series: four at Arizona, three at L.A. Dodgers, three at home against the Rays and Yankees, and three at St. Louis. If the Rockies are above .500 after that stretch, I'll start to believe. Colorado is still a +700 long shot on Sportsbook.ag to win the NL West.
Dodgers' Pitching Depth All Gone
The Los Angeles Dodgers entered spring training with an embarrassment of pitchers: eight legitimate big-league starters, to be exact. But the old axiom in baseball is that you can never have enough pitching, and L.A. is learning that now.
The Dodgers traded Aaron Harang to Seattle because they didn't have a spot to him. And in the past two weeks or so, the team lost Zack Greinke for two months because of a broken collarbone, lefty Chris Capuano to the 15-day DL with a calf injury and, most recently, Chad Billingsley (1-0, 3.00) also to the DL with elbow pain that the team fears could lead to season-ending surgery. Billingsley missed the final two months of the 2012 season with a partially torn elbow ligament, but instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery then he got several platelet-rich plasma injections. He only made it two starts into this season.
So now the L.A. rotation is Clayton Kershaw and four question marks: Ted Lilly (makes his first start off the DL on Tuesday at the Mets and was terrible while on rehab in the minors), Hyun-Jin Ryu, Josh Beckett and Stephen Fife (started Sunday in place of Billingsley). That's simply not going to cut it, especially with the Dodgers ranking 29th in the majors in runs scored. L.A. enters the week 8-10 and five games out of first in the NL West. Somehow, it is still just +200 to win the division on Sportsbook.ag.
The Dodgers are going to essentially need Kershaw to win every start and hope to stay around .500 when the other guys take the mound until Greinke gets back. If Billingsley is done for the year, the team probably will have to go out and get a starter with such big expectations this year. However, the Dodgers have raided their farm system in trades over the past several months. One name to keep an eye on would be the Cubs' Matt Garza once he gets back in mid-May and proves he's healthy. The Dodgers were eyeing him at last year's trade deadline and wouldn't have to give up a ton because Garza becomes a free agent after 2013.
The Texas Rangers also are likely going to be looking for arms with an injury to sideline Opening Day starter Matt Harrison until after the all-star break.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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