As of Monday, there are still eight weeks left in the baseball season, but for American League teams in the playoff chase, it is go time! This makes the sportsbooks MLB odds a little tougher to decipher.
Because when the teams go head to head, if the pitching matchup is close to even, baseball handicappers and those placing sports picks have to weigh other factors. In addition, when the contender is playing a non-contender, does the pressure get to those in the race against a more relaxed opponent or does the club that is unlikely to make postseason even care?
It is all part of the wonderment of making MLB picks and let's dive in to uncover answers and better my 34-22 record of almost three weeks.
Blue Jays vs. Yankees: Afternoon Delight in the Cement Jungle
David Price (10-4, 2.45 ERA) makes his second start for Toronto and is 11-0 against division opponents this season. (Team's Record) However, that was when he was in the AL Central, now he's in the AL East and he's been pounded by this afternoon's opponent, the Yankees, the last two times. Back in April and last August, Price was tagged for a total of 16 total runs on 25 hits and never made it out of the second inning either time. His history with New York is choppy, with a 4.50 ERA, but he does own a 10-7 record and he is 4-0 with a 2.16 ERA at Yankee Stadium in last six starts, all victories by the teams he's played for.
Ivan Nova (4-3, 3.10) has won his previous three starts and lowered his ERA in the process, with a 2.65 mark in that span. Against a smokin' hot Toronto squad that has won six straight and nine of 10, Nova and New York have never lost in five tries at home, though the 4.44 ERA means he has also gotten help.
Those putting together MLB picks at Wagerweb and other outlets are finding the price is right and bumped up the Blue Jays from -125 to over -140. For my money this looks like a good spot for an underdog play, with the Yankees 9-1 versus lefties of late and 8-0 after scoring and allowing four runs or less in last three games this season.
Slight Advantage - Nova and New York
Twins vs. Indians: Santana Tries to Create Momentum for Minnesota
Though it was hardly easy, the Twins ended their five-game losing streak with a hard-fought 10-9 victory over last place Cleveland. This took Minnesota back over .500 and they are only two games off the last wild card slot in the AL.
Ervin Santana's (2-2, 3.89) last two starts have been a pitch location conundrum, surrendering four home runs and walking seven in only 11 2/3 innings. Overall, the right-hander has been tougher on the road with a 1.42 ERA in four starts, yet he and Cleveland have not been a good mix at 3-9 with a 4.09 ERA in 17 starts against the Indians.
As per usual, Minnesota is a road underdog, this time at +125 against the team with worst home record in baseball, Cleveland at 20-33, -24.8 units. I think you have to consider the Twins tonight with the Tribe's home struggles, their starter Trevor Bauer (8-8, 3.98) with an ERA over 5 at Progressive Field and over 6 in five attempts against Minnesota. Also, the Twinkies are 21-11 playing against a team with a win percentage of 38% to 46% this season.
Slight Advantage - Santana and Minnesota
Orioles vs. Angels: Birds and Angels Do Battle
The Orange County crew in Anaheim is the leader in the wild card race, but after last night's win is also tied with Houston with the same number of losses in the AL West chase. Garrett Richards (11-8, 3.46) gave a gritty performance on Monday, allowing three runs in the first inning to Cleveland but kept L.A. in the contest and they eventually won 5-4. Though Richards is 7-2 at the Big A with 2.36 ERA in 10 outings, against Baltimore he is 0-2 with a 6.16 ERA in three starts.
Richards is in a better place confidence-wise than his mound foe Ubaldo Jimenez (8-7, 4.04), who has been shelled in his last four outings, allowing a foes to bat over.300 and post a .378 on-base percentage, while serving up six homers in 18 2/3 innings. To make matter worse, Jimenez is 0-5 lifetime against L.A.A. with a 5.34 ERA.
The Angels are -145 faves and why not, being 17-5 as a home favorite of -125 to -150 this season, with Jimenez and the Orioles 0-7 on the road after a setback.
Advantage - Richards and L.A.A.