I don't think I'm alone when I say that I feel like Major League Baseball is the most unpredictable sport out of the four major North American leagues. There are just so many variables that go into the game, and every single pitch thrown - by either team - has a rippling effect over how a particular inning or even the rest of the game plays out. Slumps in baseball are 10 times worse than a slump in either basketball, hockey or football - both individually and as a team. Currently, three teams that we have grown accustomed to being good for long periods of time are slumping hard. Each of these three teams entered the month of June with postseason aspirations, but a disastrous month has put a damper on those ideas.
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Let's start with the Evil Empire in New York. The Yankees have lost seven of their last eight games and are currently holding on to first place in the AL East by a thread. Their once sure-fire bullpen has struggled during that stretch, and their go-to reliever, Tyler Clippard, looks like a shell of his former self.
Another big problem is the disappearance of last year's NL home run leader, Chris Carter. Carter has just eight homers this year, which is a far cry from the 41 he hit a season ago. The only positive to be taken away from this situation is that the Yankees are still young and a rebuild usually comes with growing pains.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the Baltimore Orioles. The starting rotation of the O's has been putrid during this recent stretch that has seen them give up five or more runs in 18 straight games. That's an insane stat. They have also lost nine of their last 13 games and are quickly sinking to the bottom of the AL East. The core is aging, and the key pieces such as Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Zach Britton are all free agents after 2018. It is time to push the panic button in Baltimore.
And lastly, in the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves stuck in a rut. They are currently five games under .500 after dropping five of their last seven. They have an embarrassment of riches in the pitching department but couldn't hit the back side of a barn with a beach ball. The only two half-decent bats in the lineup belong to Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler. After those two, it's slim pickings for a team that was once the team to beat in the NL.
Thursday is getaway day for most teams in the majors, but we are still being treated to 12 games on the card. Six of those games are afternoon games, which I won't touch on (Go Jays Go). The nightcap gives us a few interesting matchups and a few no-brainers in my opinion. The aforementioned Yankees are currently -220 with Luis Severino on the mound against the Los Angeles Angels. The total sits at 9.0 . This is a great spot for the Yankees to pick up their second win in a row, but I definitely do not want to lay that price. The other "no-brainer" is the Los Angeles Dodgers over the New York Mets. The Dodgers are currently -150, and have Hyun-Jin Ryu on the bump taking on Steven Matz. Despite Ryu's form, I wouldn't bet on the Mets if you paid me to do so.
All odds are courtesy of 5Dimes.
San Francisco Giants vs Atlanta Braves
For what it's worth, the Braves have been one of the better surprises this season despite their 33-38 record. Coming into this year, the Braves were expected to be one of the worst teams in baseball, but thanks to a pretty consistent offense they are better than a handful of teams. The weak link in the team has always been the pitching staff, and tonight is a prime opportunity to make some money betting against the scheduled starter.
The Braves send Jaime Garcia to the mound tonight to take on Matt Cain. Combined, these two starters have a 5-11 record, and both sport an ERA above 3.50 (Garcia 3.59, Cain 4.99). Both starters also give up plenty of walks and hits per inning. Garcia has a 1.26 WHIP while Cain owns a 1.69 WHIP.
Garcia is coming off a terrible outing his last time out versus Miami. He surrendered six earned runs on seven hits while walking two. San Francisco may not have a lineup as good as the Marlins, but they have been known to get after a bad pitcher and make him pay. On the flip side, Matt Cain has been absolutely brutal in two of his last three starts. He's lasted just five innings in each of them while giving up a combined 26 hits, 11 runs and seven walks. Those aren't exactly the kind of stats that make me get excited about a pitcher.
I already mentioned the consistency of the Braves lineup, and I think they will be able to get to Cain early and often tonight and win this series. They've already taken two of the first three games while the Giants have won just once in their last nine games. While I do believe the Braves are the play, I don't think laying -156 would be wise with this team.
Instead I will be taking the first five innings "over" 4.5 runs (-135). I think both pitchers are very vulnerable tonight, and two of the three games have already gone over the number in this series.
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