There can be no argument that there are "letdown" games in the NFL, NBA and NHL. But those games are much more physically and emotionally taxing and a baseball game. So can there be such a thing as letdown series in MLB? I think we may find out this weekend when the San Francisco Giants visit Colorado. Why would I worry about the Giants? They just swept the arch-rival Dodgers and didn't allow a single run in the series. It was capped on Thursday with a 4-0 win over Clayton Kershaw, the third time this season the Giants and Madison Bumgarner have beaten him. And Bumgarner even homered off him! How can the Giants players not be a little flat heading to Coors Field against a bad team?
Giants at Rockies (+100, 10)
San Francisco will catch a break in that it appears the Rockies won't have first baseman Justin Morneau for this series. He was eligible to come off the seven-day concussion disabled list on Friday but is still having some symptoms. That's scary because concussions cut short one of his seasons with the Twins a few years ago, and Morneau really was never the same until he came to Colorado. Chris Heston (3-3, 3.72) goes for the Giants. He is 0-2 with a 5.11 ERA in two starts against the Rockies this season, allowing 18 hits in 12.1 innings. DJ LeMahieu is 4-for-6 with two RBIs off him. Charlie Blackmon is 4-for-6 with a homer. The Rockies have lost the past four starts of Jordan Lyles (2-4, 4.53), and he has a 5.14 ERA this month. He hasn't yet faced the Giants. Gregor Blanco is 4-for-7 with a homer and two RBIs off him. Buster Posey is 2-for-9 with a solo homer.
Key trends: The Rockies are 1-5 in Lyles' past six vs. teams with a winning record. The "over/under" has gone under in four of his past five.
Early lean: This is Game 1 of a doubleheader. Rockies and over.
Mariners at Blue Jays (-121, 8.5)
Earlier this week, the Blue Jays said they expected that second baseman Devon Travis would avoid the disabled list with a shoulder injury, but he was placed on it Thursday retroactive to May 17. He is one of your early AL Rookie of the Year favorites, hitting .271 with seven homers and 26 RBIs. It's lefty James Paxton (2-2, 3.59) for Seattle. He has really turned things around after a rough April. Paxton has not allowed a run in his past two outings and only eight hits spanning 14 innings. His ERA was 5.08 before that. He's from Canada, so this probably means quite a bit to him. Jose Bautista is 2-for-2 with an RBI off him. Lefty Mark Buehrle (5-3, 5.36) goes for Toronto. He is 3-0 with a 3.71 ERA in three home starts. I think we may see Willie Bloomquist get a spot start here as he is 20-for-44 with nine extra-base hits career off Buehrle. Robinson Cano also hits him well with three homers and 11 RBIs.
Key trends: The Mariners are 0-6 in Paxton's past six on the road. The Jays are 6-1 in their past seven against lefties. The Jays are 6-2 in Buehrle's past eight vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 5-0 in Seattle's past five against lefties.
Early lean: Blue Jays and under.
Rangers at Yankees (-166, 8.5)
Tell me who the ace of the Texas Rangers is this season. Willing to wager you didn't say Nick Martinez (3-0, 1.88) as he is second in the AL in ERA and Texas has lost just one of his eight starts overall. He might be coming back to earth, however, with a 3.68 ERA this month and having failed to go more than five innings in two of his four starts. The Yankees' Brett Gardner is 4-for-5 with two doubles and a homer off him. It's CC Sabathia (2-5, 4.67) for the Bombers. He has been sharp in winning back-to-back starts, allowing four earned over 14 innings and striking out 14. Those were both on the road. He is 11-3 with a 4.45 ERA in 18 career starts vs. Texas, but has not faced the Rangers since 2012. Adrian Beltre is 7-for-30 with three doubles, a homer and five RBIs off him.
Key trends: Texas is 5-0 in Martinez's past five on the road. The Yanks are 0-4 in Sabathia's past four against teams with a losing record. The over is 4-1 in Martinez's past five on the road.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Mets at Pirates (-108, 6)
The clear pitching matchup of the day is this game, a second straight stellar matchup on the mound in this series. It's Matt Harvey (5-1, 1.98) for the Mets, and he's certainly an NL Cy Young favorite thus far. Harvey brings a 16-inning scoreless streak into this one and has struck out 18 combined over his past two starts. This will be his first look at Pittsburgh. Few Pirates have faced him. Andrew McCutchen is 1-for-2 with a walk. Pedro Alvarez is 1-for-3 with a double. A.J. Burnett (3-1, 1.38) goes for the Bucs. That Harvey is dominating is not surprise, but a 38-year-old Burnett? He is second in the NL in ERA and has yet to allow more than two runs in a game. Plenty of Mets have seen him. Michael Cuddyer hits just .194 with 11 strikeouts in 31 at-bats. Juan Lagares hits Burnett the best, going 5-for-14 with two doubles and three RBIs.
Key trends: The Mets are 0-4 in Harvey's pas four road starts vs. teams with a losing record. The Pirates are 8-2 in Burnett's past 10 at home vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 6-1 in Harvey's past seven vs. the NL Central.
Early lean: To no surprise the lowest total on board. I trust the Pirates offense and bullpen more than the Mets'. Go Bucs and under.
Reds at Indians (-188, 7.5)
A few weeks ago, I began one of these daily stories asking what was wrong with reigning AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber of the Indians. The answer: clearly nothing. He followed up an 18-strikeout, one-hit masterpiece of the Cardinals by holding the White Sox to a run and striking out 12 over nine innings last time out but got a no-decision. Those 30 strikeouts are just three off the MLB record for consecutive games. The Reds' Jay Bruce is 2-for-4 off him. Todd Frazier is 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Joey Votto has never faced him. The Reds will add the DH in this series. Cincinnati's Anthony DeSclafani (2-4, 3.80) comes off his worst outing, allowing six runs and six hits over three innings against the Giants. He has never faced Cleveland.
Key trends: The Indians are 8-1 in Kluber's past nine interleague starts. The under is 7-3 in his past 10 against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Indians on runline (+110) and under.
Get free picks from any Doc's Sports handicapper - there is no obligation for this offer and no credit card required. Just sign up for an account, and you can use the $60 in free picks for any Doc's Sports Advisory Board handicapper and any sport. Click here to get started now.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent Baseball Handicapping
- 2023 World Series Betting Guide: Predictions, Odds, and Expert Picks
- Free MLB Picks Los Angeles Angels: Season-Long Handicapping and Specialization 5/23/2023
- MLB Betting Advice: Hot and Cold Teams for Betting 5/15/2023
- Circa Sportsbook Plans Partnership for the MLB’s Athletics in Las Vegas
- Free MLB Picks Los Angeles Angels: Season-Long Handicapping and Specialization 5/5/2023
- 2023 National League Pennant Odds and Betting Predictions
- 2023 American League Pennant Odds and Betting Predictions
- The MLB’s Athletics Plan to Move to Las Vegas
- MLB Betting Advice: Hot and Cold Teams for Betting 4/20/2023
- Free MLB Picks Los Angeles Angels: Season-Long Handicapping and Specialization 4/19/2023