In the last several seasons, baseball handicappers have enjoyed perusing the MLB odds for these excellent division rivalry's. Though the luster is not the same in 2015, the competitiveness will be.
St. Louis and Cincinnati have been feuding since the Tony LaRussa vs. Dusty Baker days. Kansas City has flipped roles with Detroit as the team to beat in the AL Central and while many claim to be tired of the Red Sox and Yankees, eyeballs and sportsbooks action for MLB picks is always at a fever pitch for their confrontations.
Cardinals & Reds: Lackey vs. DeSclafani
These two hurlers squared off last week in St. Louis and John Lackey (9-6, 2.78 ERA) was the hard luck loser in pitching eight innings, making one miscue, a Jay Bruce home run in a 1-0 setback. Lackey has really been in a phenomenal groove, with a 1.71 ERA in his last nine starts, six which have resulted in Cardinals victories.
What is most amazing about Lackey's resurgence is the fastball is continually in the low 90's even at 36, and he's a complete pitcher, able to add or subtract off that pitch and his slider has been devastating to right-hand hitters. The only possible concern is Lackey and the Redbirds are 3-6 away from The Arch.
Anthony DeSclafani (6-7, 3.75) quieted St. Louis bats for seven scoreless innings of three-hit baseball, but has not had the same success at Great American Ballpark where he is 2-4 with burgeoning 5.69 ERA. While DeSclafani stuff is not overwhelming, his command has been good for a first-year starter.
The Cards betting odds have been lowered to -125 at WagerWeb and other betting outlets, yet having been shut-out twice last week by the Reds, St, Louis is this spot is 13-2 revenging two straight losses having tallied or less runs the last two seasons.
Advantage - Lackey and St. Louis
Royals & Tigers: Duffy vs. Verlander
Kansas City has assumed the role of leader after Detroit's four-year run as champions of the division, but don't expect the Tigers to not go down without a fight, particularly in Eminem's city.
Justin Verlander (1-3, 4.86) has reclaimed the ace role in Detroit by default with departures, but has looked like his old self in last two outings, lasting eight innings each time, permitting one run on each occasion, while striking out 13 and walking nobody. Verlander has never minded facing Kansas City with a 19-7 record and 3.17 ERA.
Danny Duffy (4-5, 4.28) was really in a great mental spot with a 0.90 ERA in three previous outings until Toronto light him up for five runs in six innings in his last outing. Though Duffy is 2-6 against the Tigers, his ERA is 3.17, with three defeats by one run in which Kansas City scored four total runs.
Depending on the sportsbook, both teams have been the slightest of favorites, making this game essentially a Pick. Though I'm a long time fan of Verlander's, still a few questions about him, Kansas City has a enormous edge in bullpen comparison and they are 26-9 with a day off the last two seasons.
Slight Advantage - Duffy and Kansas City
Red Sox & Yankees: Owens vs. Tanaka
For New York Yankees fans, this is how they prefer it, their team in first and Boston in last place. To their way of thinking, all is right in the baseball world and Masahiro Tanaka (7-4, 3.80) will look to do his part to widen the gap. The Yanks right-hander has yet to recapture his start of a year ago, but if the Bronx Bombers continue to average 8.9 RPG like they have in their past seven contests, it will not matter tonight.
With Rick Porcello on the DL with a reported soreness in his triceps (to go along with bruised ego for this season), Boston dips down to Triple-A and fetches Henry Owens, a 23-year-old left-hander who posted a 3.16 ERA at Pawtucket.
New York is a -200 MLB odds home favorite where they are 30-17 and against lefties are 19-14, scoring 5.3 RPG. In Tanaka's two seasons, he and the Pinstripes are 17-4 versus an AL team with a team batting average of .260 or worse. For sports picks, New York is an easy choice as I try to improve upon 28-16 mark.
Advantage - Tanaka and New York