I had four MLB Series Picks conclude on Sunday afternoon and evening, so let’s briefly break down those results before getting into my picks for this week.
The Red Sox and Yankees series that was originally scheduled to be a four-game set beginning on Thursday turned into a three-gamer thanks to a rainout on Thursday.
Still, Chris Sale looked prime to lead the Red Sox to victory in the opener, but J.A. Happ outdueled him to get us behind the eight-ball in that series. As soon as the Yankees won game two of the series on Saturday thanks to a go-ahead two-run shot from Gary Sanchez, my pick was cooked. The Red Sox salvaged a game on Sunday Night Baseball, but I lost the pick at -135 odds.
The next pick was the Twins at quality +130 odds to knock off the Rays from Tampa Bay. After the Rays pummeled Minnesota 14-3 on Thursday, the Twins went on to win each of the next three games to give us a series winner. All of Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi pitched well to win those final three games, although Berrios didn’t factor into the decision in his quality start on Friday.
Next up were the Giants and Orioles as I had San Fran to win that one at -125 odds. Both Andrew Cashner and Drew Pomeranz were lit up in the opener, but Cashner lasted five innings and got the win despite giving up six runs while Pomeranz was destroyed for eight runs in 1.1 innings of work. That said, the Giants roared back and outscored the Orioles by a combined 16-3 score over the next two games and took the series in the process. Both Shaun Anderson and Jeff Samardzija outpitched their counterparts as expected and we notched our second winner of the weekend in the process.
Finally, we dropped our final pick of the week as the Cubs were swept at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals. It was closer than that might sound like two of the three games – Friday and Sunday – were decided by a 2-1 score with Friday’s final coming in 10 innings on a Matt Carpenter walk-off single.
Every starter in the series actually pitched pretty well but the Cardinals’ bullpen outdueled that of the Cubs – especially in Saturday’s 7-4 win – and put an end to the Cubs’ recent hot stretch at the plate.
All told, I went 2-2 for the weekend. That said, if you bet $100 on all four of the bets, you lost a whole $5. All that work for nothing, right?
I’ll have two MLB Series Picks going beginning on Tuesday night, the first of which will feature the Twins and Indians from Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Let’s take a look at the odds for this three-game set, courtesy of BetOnline.
Twins vs. Indians MLB Series Odds
Now let’s take a peek at the probable pitching matchups for this series, courtesy of MLB.com.
- Tuesday: Smeltzer (MIN) vs. Bieber (CLE)
- Wednesday: Perez (MIN) vs. Carrasco (CLE)
- Thursday: Berrios (MIN) vs. Bauer (CLE)
Now let’s break down these pitching matchups before getting into the offenses, bullpens and my final pick!
Tuesday: Devin Smeltzer (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Shane Bieber (4-2, 3.67 ERA)
If you looked at Smeltzer’s numbers above, it would appear Tuesday night’s start would be the first of his big league season.
However, Smeltzer has one start under his belt to this point as he pitched six shutout innings with seven strikeouts while allowing just three hits in a no decision against the Brewers last week.
It continues a strong trend this season for the left-hander who actually began the 2019 campaign at Double-A. He posted a 0,.60 ERA and 1.41 FIP in five starts at Double-A before posting a 1.82 mark across four starts and 24.2 innings at Triple-A. However, his peripherals would tell us he deserved a notably worse fate at Triple-A as he posted a 4.33 FIP and 5.64 xFIP as well and struck out just 5.47 batters per nine innings.
At the same time, it’s hard to argue with the results as he’s allowed just seven earned runs in 60.2 innings, good for a 1.05 ERA.
Another young arm, Bieber is enjoying a big 2019 season after being dealt some poor luck in his rookie season last year.
Posted a 4.55 ERA last season but deserved a whole lot better in the form of a 3.23 FIP and 3.30 xFIP as he suffered from a .356 BABIP against and a 69.4% strand rate as well. The numbers have normalized significantly this season and he owns that 3.67 ERA to go along with a 3.96 FIP and 3.47 xFIP while his K/9 rate has gone from 9.26 last season all the way to 11.14 this season.
Bieber has been notably better at home this season where he owns a 2.97 ERA compared to his 4.45 mark at home. Furthermore, his 2.95 FIP and 2.84 xFIP are in full support of that nice ERA figure while any regression should come on the road where owns a 5.09 FIP and 4.18 xFIP.
Bieber endured his worst start of the season his last time out as he allowed six earned runs on eight hits including three home runs across just five innings of work. However, he managed the win thanks to plenty of run support. Over his last two starts at home, Bieber has pitched 14 innings of one-run ball with just nine hits against, zero homers and a whopping 25 strikeouts.
Given his body of work on the season and Smeltzer’s inexperience, I’ll give the advantage to the Indians’ right-hander.
Wednesday: Martin Perez (7-2, 3.71 ERA) vs. Carlos Carrasco (4-6, 4.98 ERA)
Another pitcher coming off his worst start of the season is the Twins’ Martin Perez who was obliterated by the Rays for six earned runs on six hits in just 2.2 innings of work.
In his defense, however, Perez actually didn’t allow a homer and walked just two while his 3.14 FIP and 3.86 xFIP from that game aren’t nearly as bad as the stat line would tell us.
Still, his numbers prior to that start did point to some regression and his 3.71 ERA and 3.70 FIP are now much more in line while his 4.36 xFIP still shows some regression coming, likely in the form of more home runs allowed.
Whole strikeouts are up, control has been an issue as he’s walked 4.15 batters per nine innings last season, a number even higher than the 3.80 mark he posted in 2018 when he pitched to a 6.22 ERA and 5.72 FIP.
Still, Perez owns a 3.07 FIP at home and a 4.27 mark on the road, numbers that are pretty much in line with his 2.51 ERA at home and 4.78 ERA on the road.
Perez allowed three earned runs on five hits and three walks in 3.2 innings of relief in his first appearance of the season back on March 31st.
He’s posted an ERA no worse than 3.63 since the 2015 season and a mark between 2.55 and 3.63 since the 2014 season. Furthermore, consistency has been the name of his game of late, posting an ERA between 3.29 and 3.38 in each of the last three seasons.
His 4.98 mark for this season would appear to be on the unlucky side as he’s pitched to a 4.06 FIP as well as a 3.32 xFIP as well. The long ball has been a killer for the veteran right-hander as he’s allowed 1.94 homers per nine this season, although that number should come down as evidenced by his xFIP and the fact that his 20% HR/FB rate is miles above his 13.3% career mark.
The recent results have been ugly as he’s allowed 11 earned runs over his last two starts, spanning 12.2 innings with 19 hits and four home runs allowed in that time. He does, however, own a 3.82 ERA with an 11.18 K/9 clip on the season at home compared to a 6.19 ERA on the road.
Both pitchers have struggled of late, and while his results haven’t been the best this season, Carrasco has been the far better pitcher both in his career and in recent years and his work at home this season has been good.
Thursday: Jose Berrios (7-2, 3.27 ERA) vs. Trevor Bauer (4-5, 3.87 ERA)
We have a real nice matchup on tap for game three of this series as Berrios and Bauer are a couple of the game’s more talented right-handed pitchers.
Berrios was good in his weekend start against the Rays, pitching 6.2 frames of three-run ball with eight strikeouts in the no decision.
Once a liability on the road, Berrios has tightened his splits on the season as he owns a 2.73 ERA at home, but also a rock-solid 3.86 mark on the road.
While his outing on the weekend in Tampa Bay is considered a quality start, Berrios hasn’t had the best results of late with a 5.04 ERA across his last four starts, two of which came at home and two on the road. Only one of those two starts at home was poor, however, when he allowed five earned runs in 5.2 innings against the Angels. He’s posted a 5.68 ERA over his last two starts on the road.
The overall numbers are still really good. He owns a 3.27 ERA and a 3.70 FIP while his 1.64 BB/9 clip is of the elite variety.
Berrios hurled 7.2 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts on Opening Day against the Indians at Target Field in Minnesota.
Bauer isn’t seeing the same results this season as he did last and combined with little run support on the season none of his numbers look particularly impressive outside of the strikeouts.
Owns a 3.87 ERA, 4.08 FIP and 4.47 xFIP on the season while his walk rate has jumped from 2.93 BB/9 last season to 3.98 this time around. His strikeout rate has dropped almost exactly one per nine innings, however, he still owns a 10.33 K/9 on the season.
Bauer pitched seven innings of two-run ball in his last outing against the White Sox on the road but also allowed four unearned runs thanks to some shotty defense behind him. He put together a 1.71 FIP for the game but also allowed nine hits, but no homers and just one walk.
Bauer pitched seven innings of one-run ball and one-hit ball to go along with just one walk and nine strikeouts in his first start of the season against the Twins back in late March. He does, however, own an ugly 5.86 ERA and 5.15 FIP at home this season.
Given Berrios’ recent stretch of subpar pitching and Bauer’s struggles at home, I’m not seeing a terribly large advantage on either side and I’m going to call this one a wash.
Twins vs. Indians MLB Series Pick
From a purely starting pitching standpoint, the Indians have the advantage here. They are sending out their three best healthy starters for this series with Corey Kluber still on the DL with that forearm fracture.
The Twins have their staff ace in Berrios going in the finale, but if they aren’t careful it could be over before then. Smeltzer was good in his MLB debut and his results were good in the minors, but this is still the big leagues and I’m not about to give him the advantage over Bieber who has been very good this season and flat-out elite at times.
I’m also not on the Martin Perez bandwagon as his career, although lengthy, hasn’t exactly been riddled with star-caliber numbers thanks to a career 4.57 ERA and 4.39 FIP.
I’m also well aware of how powerful and productive this Twins offense has been this season. In fact, they still sit as the top offense in baseball as evidenced by their .357 team wOBA while their 123 wRC+ is tied with Houston for the top mark in the bigs.
The Indians, on the other hand, are struggling on offense. They rank 26th with a .296 wOBA on the season and their .143 ISO is the second-worst mark in baseball. Some head-scratching offseason moves to a potent offense has predictably landed Cleveland among the worst offensive groups in baseball.
Clearly, the advantage on offense goes to Minnesota.
However, we have to consider the bullpens as well and that advantage goes back to the Indians.
After sporting a brutal bullpen in 2018, Cleveland’s ‘pen has bounced back to the tune of a 3.28 ERA so far this season, good for second-best in the league behind the Astros and their elite 2.78 mark.
The Twins, however, fall to 20th with a 4.43 ERA from their ‘pen and while their 4.04 FIP checks in at ninth and much closer to the Indians 3.75 mark (4th), there’s still little doubt that the advantage here is to Cleveland as their results have been far superior to the Twins; in this department.
As a result, I’ll take the Indians to take at least two of three from the Twins in this one and at least narrow a wide 11.5-game gap in the race for AL Central supremacy.