MLB Handicapping: Hot/Cold Pitchers and Hitters Betting Report
by Ricky Dimon - 10/3/2013
The contenders have been separated from the pretenders, and there are now eight teams remaining in the quest for the World Series after the conclusion of the two wild-card games—won by Pittsburgh in the National League and by Tampa Bay in the American League.
Will Evan Longoria stay hot for a Rays squad that has already won two elimination games? Will Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke pitch the Dodgers into the Fall Classic and/or all the way to a world championship? We’re about to find out.
All odds provided by Sportsbook.ag.
Pitchers – Hot
Bartolo Colon (Athletics) – After going 0-2 with an 8.49 E.R.A. in August, the 40-year-old right-hander compiled a 4-0 record to accompany an awesome 1.16 E.R.A. in September. Colon has made five straight quality starts, and he has not allowed more than two runs in any outing since Aug. 13. The A’s (Colon) are +112 underdogs in Game 1 at Detroit (Scherzer) on Friday.
Zack Greinke (Dodgers) – The three bona fide aces in the Dodgers-Braves series (Greinke, Kershaw, and Kris Medlen) are all borderline on fire right now. Greinke has made an incredible 12 consecutive quality starts. The righty is 7-1 in his last eight decisions dating back to Aug. 5, and he has surrendered only one run in his past 11.2 innings.
Gerrit Cole (Pirates) – Cole heated up down the stretch in the NL playoff race, going 4-0 with a 1.69 E.R.A. in the month of September. The 23-year-old UCLA product has made eight quality starts in a row. He has given up more than three runs in a game only once this entire season since making his big-league debut on June 11.
Pitchers – Cold
Ricky Nolasco (Dodgers) – Nolasco may or may not start a game in the first round against Atlanta. Perhaps he will get the nod in Game 4 if L.A. is leading 2-1 and not facing a must-win situation. The right-hander’s last three regular-season starts were horrendous. In those three appearances, Nolasco was roughed up for 24 hits and 19 runs (17 earned) in just 12 innings.
John Lackey (Red Sox) – After coasting through August with a 3.09 E.R.A. for that month, Lackey tallied a 4.98 mark in five September outings. Only one of the 34-year-old righty’s last four starts has been of the quality variety. The Yankees got him for eight hits and seven runs in 5.2 innings on Sept. 7 in the Bronx. Lackey is scheduled to start Game 2 against Tampa Bay.
Mike Minor (Braves) – Minor has remained solid, but his E.R.A. was 2.76 as recently as Aug. 11, and now it stands at 3.21. The southpaw has not allowed fewer than two runs in six consecutive starts. He has given up four earned runs in four of his last nine outings. The Braves are +140 underdogs to win their divisional series against the Dodgers and +400 to win the NL Pennant.
Hitters – Hot
Evan Longoria (Rays) – Longoria powered Tampa Bay into Wednesday’s AL wild-card game (which it won 4-0 at Cleveland) by going 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI in Monday’s 5-2 victory over Texas in the tiebreaker for the second wild-card spot. The third baseman had four multi-hit performances in his last seven regular-season games with 11 RBI in those seven.
Freddie Freeman (Braves) – Atlanta’s first baseman hit .380 in September, with six dingers, 21 RBI, and 19 runs scored. He drove in runs in nine of his last 16 games and had eight multi-hit showings in that same span (including five multi-hit games in his last seven). Freeman only had five games in the final month without a hit.
Mike Napoli (Red Sox) – Napoli heads into the postseason on a short-but-sweet three-game hitting streak after sitting out four contests from Sept. 21-25. Boston’s first baseman batted .333 in September with six homers and 16 RBI. The Red Sox are +140 favorites to win the AL Pennant and +300 co-favorites with L.A. to win the World Series.
Hitters – Cold
B.J. Upton (Braves) – Can you call it an SI jinx if Upton struggles in the divisional series and the Braves get bounced right away? Probably not, because it would not be anything new—not for a slumping Upton nor for an Atlanta club that is accustomed to early exits. The center fielder hit .184 this season and ended with a .106 September. Upton does not have a hit since Sept. 12.
Andy Dirks (Tigers) – Detroit’s left fielder has only one extra-base hit since Sept. 6. He batted a decent .261 in September, but he had just one hit in his last four regular-season contests (a span of 15 at-bats). The Tigers are -160 favorites to win their first-round series against Oakland.
Carlos Beltran (Cardinals) – Beltran isn’t in a full-fledged slump, but at the same time he is by no means setting the world on fire. The 36-year-old right fielder posted a disappointing .217 batting average last month, bringing his season mark down from .310 to .296. Beltran has three extra-base knocks in his last 13 games, and he has gone deep just once since August 24.
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