As we approach the two-month mark of the MLB season, I thought it would be an appropriate time to give you an abbreviated version (Top 5) of my power rankings heading into this week of action. I don't follow a certain formula or live and die by the numbers when putting together this list. Instead, I focus on what I see with my own eyes. Many people just scan the box score and are quick to jump to conclusions. However, there are many intangibles that the box score doesn't account for. That's where watching and understanding how the game is played comes into play. Heading into this week's action, my Top 5 teams are as follows: No. 1 Houston Astros, No. 2 Washington Nationals, No. 3 Colorado Rockies, No. 4 Texas Rangers and No. 5 Arizona Diamondbacks.
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The Astros just sent their ace to the DL and proceeded to lose three straight home games to the Cleveland Indians. Their spot atop this list remains intact thanks to the Nationals dismal 1-4 record over their last five games. The Nats' rotation has been terrible, giving up 30 runs in those five games. The Rockies check in at three thanks in large part to Charlie Blackmon and Mark Reynolds. That duo has combined for 49 hits, six home runs and 25 RBIs so far in May. The Rangers are the biggest movers up the rankings board thanks to their ongoing 10-game win streak. They now own a 24-21 record and are back in the division race. And lastly, the Diamondbacks round out the Top 5 because they score a lot of runs. They average just more than five runs per game and have put up fewer than five runs just once in their past six games. They've also won six of their last seven games.
Moving on to Tuesday's MLB slate, all 30 teams are in action, which gives us no shortage of options to wager on. In my opinion, the most watchable series takes plays at Fenway Park between the Red Sox and the visiting Texas Rangers. The Sox are currently -190 favorites as they send Rick Porcello to the bump to oppose Andrew Cashner. This is one of the four games that are lined at -170 or higher. The Dodgers are tonight's Favorite of the Day, checking in at -233 with Clayton Kershaw taking on the St. Louis Cardinals. The Houston Astros are also north of -200 on the money line as they welcome the Detroit Tigers to Minute Maid Park. All odds are courtesy of Bovada
Cleveland Indians vs. Cincinnati Reds
If anyone needs any sign that the Cleveland Indians are starting to turn a corner and put a rather sluggish start behind them, they need not look further than this past weekend. The Indians went into Houston and swept the first-place Astros by a combined score of 16-9. However, last night they were stymied by Scott Feldman, who had his best start of the year -- six innings of four-hit, nine strikeout baseball. I am going to chalk that one up to "even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then" and move onto tonight where the Indians get a much more favorable matchup.
The Indians bats will be up against Amir Garrett, who will be facing the Tribe for the first time. Garrett has been just mediocre this season, posting a 3-3 record with a 5.18 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. In his last outing, Garrett was shelled by the Cubs. He lasted just four innings while giving up six runs and walking five. It would be foolish to say the Indians have a better batting lineup than the Cubs, but it's almost similar in terms of talent. If you are a Reds fan, I would brace for another short and disappointing start for Garrett.
If you are an Indians fan, I would be very cautious with the optimism surrounding Carlos Carrasco. He is set to make his ninth start of the season after leaving his last start due to pectoral tightness. On the season, Carrasco has been solid, posting a 4-2 record with a 2.60 ERA. He sports a 2-0 lifetime record against the Reds with a 4.09 ERA. In his last start, Carrasco was shelled for five runs on six hits over 3 2/3 innings. This is the reason I am cautious about backing him. The Reds own a formidable lineup from top to bottom, averaging more than five runs per game and batting .265 as a team (third in the NL). Billy Hamilton had his streak of reaching base snapped last night at 21 games, but his teammate, Scott Schebler, homered for a third consecutive game.
I've always enjoyed watching games at Great American Ball Park because the ball seems to leave the yard every time it's hit in the air. I expect this game to feature plenty of runs, and I expect there to be a run in the first inning.
Pick: Yes - First Inning Run (-115)
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Atlanta Braves
Despite owning a sub-.500 record (19-23), the Atlanta Braves sit in second pace in the NL East. They have won eight of their past 11 games, and I really like what they are trying to do with their lineup. Ender Inciarte is having a solid campaign and is coming off a five-hit performance last night. Brandon Phillips and Nick Markakis are batting .296 and .293, respectively, while Matt Kemp is batting .341. If highly-touted prospect Dansby Swanson ever figures it out then they would have a lineup that would strike fear into the opposing pitcher's eyes. Unfortunately, the Braves' rotation is what's holding them back.
R.A Dickey gets the ball tonight on three days' rest. Dickey is 3-4 with a 6.20 ERA on short rest, but manager Brian Snitker believes this will help give the rotation a different look going forward. So far this season, Dickey has been inconsistent at best. He sports a 3-3 record with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. He's also walked as many batters (21) as he has struck out (26).
The Pittsburgh lineup seems to me like it's on the verge of breaking out in a big way. They tallied 20 runs in three games against Washington before putting up 10 runs in three games against Philadelphia. I expect them to put up plenty of runs tonight against Dickey.
However, actually winning the game will be a tall task since the Pirates will send out Tyler Glasnow to the bump. Glasnow owns a 2-3 record with a 7.34 ERA and a 1.95 WHIP. He looked like the second coming of Cy Young in his last start against Washington (three hits, two earned runs, six K's), but the Nats were sitting a few regulars.
As I mentioned, the Braves have an offense with some pop, and I expect them to continue their offensive outbreak early and often against a Double-A caliber pitcher.
Pick: Over 3 Hits/Runs/Errors in First Inning (-105)
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