The baseball slate features five conflicts involving teams from the American and National Leagues. When reviewing the betting odds from sportsbooks we will focus on three of these matchups.
As per usual, the AL holds a 111-98 edge to this point of the season and they will be favored in at least three of the games with another still on the fence. Here is what to think about for each contest as a baseball handicapper for MLB picks from a pitching perspective and you can follow if I improve on recent 18-6 record.
Phillies vs. Blue Jays: Morgan vs. Doubront
While Philadelphia might need high-powered binoculars to see .500 for this season, they are as hot as any team in baseball since the All-Star break at 8-1. Though rumors continue to swirl Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and possibly others will not be wearing Phillies uniforms by the weekend, Adam Morgan's (1-2, 4.28 ERA) job is to help his team yet again. The rookie left-hander has caught too much of the plate, especially on the road, as he prepares for his sixth start, conceding four homers in only 11 innings, both which resulted in losses. Against baseball's top offense which is third in balls over the fence, Morgan has to be better.
With Troy Tulowitzki coming to Toronto, the offense will be better if anything and he's a huge upgrade on defense over Jose Reyes. Felix Doubront (1-0, 4.34) is trying to be anything but a left-hander who is shuffled around baseball, yet after conceding seven earned runs over 9 2/3 innings of his previous two starts, it looks like more of the same from him.
The MLB odds have Toronto as massive -235 favorites and they are facing a Philadelphia crew who despite winning the last three at Wrigley Field are 14-37 on the road. Though these teams meet only every few years, the Phillies have lost eight straight to the Jays and are 8-28 after three or more consecutive away games this season.
Advantage - Doubront and Toronto
Pirates vs. Twins: Morton vs. Pelfrey
While Minnesota is in the midst of a nine-game homestand where they are 32-18 at Target Field, the first five were troublesome. Having lost a series to the Yankees, the Twins will play two against Pittsburgh, who has the second-best record in the NL at 57-41 (+8.4 units).
The Pirates will utilize Charley Morton (6-4, 4.59), who was fantastic in winning his first five starts with a 1.62 ERA, but he's posted a 7.76 ERA in his last six outings with the Bucs 2-4. Morton has not had any command low in the zone and is allowing too many walks and base hits.
His mound opponent Mike Pelfrey (5-7, 3.94) has seen his ERA shot up like Donald Trump's popularity from 2.28 on June 6th to present figure. Realistically, the tall right-hander is just advancing to career norms but he's been very comfortable in downtown Minneapolis, where he owns a 2.22 ERA and the Twinkies have taken six of eight of his starters.
The MLB odds early on had Pittsburgh at -120 and they have since fallen to -110 or lower (Wagerweb.ag at -106) with Morton's struggles and Pelfrey's home success. With the Pirates only 22-24 on the road, Pelfrey having an earlier victory over Pitt and the Twins 19-11 as underdogs of +125 or less, we will use Minnesota for sports picks.
Advantage - Pelfrey and Minnesota
Athletics vs. Dodgers: Gray vs. Anderson
Despite's Oakland's lackluster 44-56 record (-21), for just the second time in 21 starts their ace Sonny Gray (10-4, 2.30) will be an underdog. Gray has actually been at his finest on the road where he has a 7-1 record and 1.84 ERA in 11 starts.
The A's have traveled south to L.A. to face the Dodgers who are 33-17 (+3.9) at home and are listed as +120 underdogs. Oakland offense has also gone south, scoring 2.3 RPG since tallying 14 against Minnesota a half dozen contests ago and they have scuffled all year against left-handed starters like Brett Anderson (5-5, 3.33) with a 8-19 record, tallying just 3.7 RPG.
Anderson, who used to pitch for Oakland, has seen his earned run average balloon in his last three starts with a 5.52 ERA and his teammates have not been stinging the horsehide either, batting .223 in last six outings.
Going to take a shot with the Athletics and Gray as underdogs because of his road record, comments of players receiving little in return for trades which could help this year's club and the fact they are 14-4 in past 18 versus the Dodgers.
Advantage - Gray and Oakland