Weekend MLB Odds and Previews for Top Series
by Robert Ferringo - 5/31/2013
Every week I highlight the weekend’s most interesting baseball series with a breakdown of the odds, pitching matchups and key subplots. But this weekend there are simply too many fantastic matchups to limit our focus to just one, and following this week’s horrendous interleague play (seriously, what the hell was going on with the 2-and-2 series’?) we are rewarded with one of the best weekend slates of the entire season.
Here is a look at this weekend’s biggest series, with MLB series prices and odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag:
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Cincinnati (-140) at Pittsburgh (+110)
Admit it: you had no idea that Pittsburgh was one of the best teams in baseball. But at 33-20 the Pirates are stride-for-stride with the Reds and bearing down on the team with the top record in the game, St. Louis.
The Pirates just gutted out three of four wins from Detroit this week, and they are a scintillating 16-4 in their last 20 games. The Pirates have gone 10-2 in their last 12 home games and swept the Reds here back in April.
The Reds have been just as good over the last three weeks, boasting a 14-5 mark. Cincinnati does have revenge for that sweep. And they have to be motivated by the fact that despite an exceptional 33-21 mark, they are in third place in the ultra-competitive N.L. Central.
Johnny Cueto, who has won 11 of 16 against Pittsburgh, gets the ball in the opener opposite Wandy Rodriguez. Mike Leake and Francisco Liriano will oppose one another on Saturday, with Mat Latos and Jeanmar Gomez headlining Sunday’s finale.
Tampa Bay (-105) at Cleveland (-125)
Neither the Rays nor the Indians are currently leading their respective divisions. However, at 17-10 for Tampa Bay and 18-11 for Cleveland, these have been the two best teams in the American League through May and are two of the hotter teams in the league. Both are coming off in-state rivalry series, and they will lock up in one of the more interesting series of the weekend.
Tampa Bay has won five straight as they head to Cleveland. But those wins have come against the sagging Yankees and sad-sack Marlins. In fact, Tampa Bay has won just one of its last five series against American League teams (with two four-game splits), and they are just 17-36 in their last 53 games in The Forest City.
Cleveland has won 15 of 19 home games and has been leaning on its homer-happy offense. The Tribe has hit more home runs at home (40) than any team in the league. They battled back to take two games from Cincinnati this week after losing seven of eight overall.
Sensational lefty Matt Moore takes the ball for the Rays on Friday. They are following that up with inexperienced lefty Chris Archer Saturday and Jeremy Hellickson on Sunday. Cleveland is going with Corey Kluber in the opener, followed by Ubaldo Jimenez. Zack McAllister will shoot for a bounce-back effort for the Indians on Sunday.
San Francisco (-150) at St. Louis (-180)
The Cardinals may be the best team in baseball through the season’s first two months. But the Giants are still the defending World Series champions. And you get the feeling that this weekend’s three-game set is about more than just some Ws for these teams; someone wants to make a statement.
St. Louis has dominated May, going 20-6, and at 35-17 they have the best record in the Majors. St. Louis has won seven of nine after a Thursday loss to Kansas City. We’ll see if that loss has any lingering effects since the Cards had to stay awake until 4 a.m. local time to complete the rain-delayed game.
San Francisco has had a subpar couple of weeks. They are 6-10 in their last 16 games and just dumped three of four to rival Oakland. The Giants have been a mess on the road this year, going just 9-15 away from home.
The Giants are going with Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner on Friday and Saturday, respectively, and are using Chad Gaudin in a spot start for Sunday. The Cardinals will counter with Shelby Miller, Adam Wainwright and Tyler Lyons.
Detroit (-155) at Baltimore (+125)
A pair of 2012 playoff teams will meet up in Charm City this weekend in an intriguing weekend series. Despite a lot of preseason projections to the contrary, Baltimore has again been one of the American League’s overachievers. While Detroit, the league’s preseason favorite, has been one of the more disappointing teams in the A.L. and a money burner for backers.
The Tigers do lead their division at 29-23, a half-game ahead of surging Cleveland. But Detroit has been a losing proposition so far this year, stumbling with a 12-14 road record. Detroit has the No. 1 scoring offense in the sport and a Top 10 pitching staff. But they have been uninspired away from Motown this Spring and enter the weekend off three straight losses.
Baltimore has quietly gotten off to a solid start, stalking the Yankees and Red Sox for first place in the A.L. East. The O’s are No. 2 in the league in batting and scoring, and their potent offense has helped them overcome a horrendous pitching staff.
We get Max Scherzer versus Miguel Gonzalez in the opener, followed by Justin Verlander against Jason Hammel. Rick Porcello and Kevin Gausman will close up the series. Detroit should be favored in all three games and are heavy favorites for the series. However, their struggles on the road should be a huge red flag for anyone looking to load up on them this weekend.
Washington (+115) at Atlanta (-145)
Last month it appeared that the Nationals and Braves would be gearing up for season-long combat to decide the National League East. But Atlanta has taken five of the first seven meetings this year and has opened up a 5.5-game lead over Washington in the standings, planting their flag as the top dog in the division.
Atlanta has been scorching hot, winning 10 of 13 games overall and eight of nine games in Turner Field. The Braves have been the best home team in baseball thus far, going 16-6, and they are catching a Nationals group that is wracked by injury at the moment. Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth are both questionable for Washington, which is just 4-8 in its last 12 games.
Stephen Strasburg will tangle with Julio Teheran in the opener, followed by a blockbuster Gio Gonzalez-Tim Hudson matchup on Saturday. Nats rookie Nate Karns gets the ball on Sunday against struggling Paul Maholm.
Boston (+100) at New YorkYankees (-130)
We saved the best for last! Sure, the Hype Machine’s strap-on coverage of all things Yanks-Sawx can annoy me. But the bottom line is that these are usually two excellent teams that play great baseball against one another. They are currently the top two teams in the best division in baseball, with Boston holding a two-game lead entering the weekend.
The Yankees, who got off to a rousing start despite a rash of injuries, have come back down to earth. Shockingly, they were swept by the Mets this week in a four-game set, and New York is just 2-7 in its last nine games. New York will welcome Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis back into the fold on Friday.
Boston, on the other hand, has been hot, winning 11 of 16 games. The Red Sox took two of three in the Bronx in the first series of the season, but they are just 2-6 in their last eight meetings and just 2-5 in their last seven at Yankee Stadium.
Struggling aces C.C. Sabathia and Jon Lester square off in the series opener, followed by Felix Doubront and Phil Hughes on Saturday. Hiroki Kuroda gets the call for the Yankees on Sunday, with Boston going with Clay Buchholz, who missed his turn in the rotation due to arm troubles.
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