We are one month into the MLB season, and most of the teams we all thought were going to contend are doing just that; Atlanta and St. Louis lead their respective divisions in the National League, with San Francisco, Cincinnati, Washington, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee all looming over .500. The only real surprises in the National League to this point are the division leading Colorado Rockies.
In the American League, all heck as broken loose so far… the Boston Red Sox have the best record in baseball, the Kansas City Royals lead the Central (both my preseason sleeper teams) and two of the three worst record in the AL belong to two of the most splashy offseason teams; the Angels and Blue Jays, who are a combined 15 games under .500 through the season’s first month.
It’s a long season, and one month is hardly a large sample size – but it is substantial enough to show one important trend – starting pitching rules results. The four best starting ERA’s in the AL? All possess the four best records in the league. The same goes for the National League where St. Louis and Atlanta lead the reset of the league by nearly a quarter of a run per game.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at an advantageous pitching matchup between two teams heading in opposite directions.
Boston Red Sox +117 at Toronto Blue Jays -125 (Total: 7.5)
Ryan Dempster (1-2, 3.30) vs. J.A. Happ (2-1, 3.81 ERA)
If the Red Sox have any vulnerability in their starting rotation right now, it is Ryan Dempster. Considering he enters tonight with an ERA in the low-threes, things are looking pretty darn good in Beantown. His team’s 2-3 record in games he’s pitched is a little misleading considering his WHIP is just 1.13 and even lower, 1.00, in his last three outings. He has averaged a career-high 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings this season as well.
The Red Sox are hitting a ton – averaging more than 7.5 runs even without Shane Victorino who missed games with a minor injury this week. Add in Big Papi’s 22-game (and counting) hitting streak, and this is a team clicking on all cylinders.
The Jays will try to take the rubber game of the series with J.A. Happ on the mound, who has been decent this season, but shouldn’t strike much fear into the Sox lineup. Boston has hit Happ well in the past, and with their team average of .308 in their last ten games, they enter with a ton of confidence.
Toronto has scuffled with the bats, ranking 25th in the MLB in team average, and hitting just .232 in their last ten games, and they still haven’t found a way to cope with the absence of Jose Reyes. Injuries are piling up all over the place for the Jays, who are in real risk of having this season, once so full of promise, get away from them early.
I like Boston tonight, and love that I can get some plus-money to back them.
Free Pick: Boston Red Sox to WIN +117