Around baseball, the potential playoff teams have emerged and while we still in July, when reviewing the MLB odds from sportsbooks, every baseball handicapper has to take these clubs in account.
This is also true for those placing MLB picks when these teams collide and every conflict could have two-game implications down the road in the standings with these head to head matchups.
Here we breakdown three key games and what role the starting pitchers will play.
Orioles vs. Yankees: Gausman & Nova
Baltimore had their chances last night but lost 3-2 to New York to fall five games back in the loss column to the first place Yankees. Tonight they turn to enigmatic Kevin Gausman(1-1, 5.00 ERA), who seems to have the ability needed to be a top line starter with a upper 90's fastball and good breaking pitches but enters this ESPN battle mired in a winless stretch of 10 straight starts. He's been in the minors for a couple starts which seems to suggest Buck Showalter wants to have him be a part of the rotation and last year he was is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA against New York in three starts.
Joe Girardi counters with Ivan Nova (1-3, 3.42), who has posted a 4.76 ERA in dropping three straight starts for the first time in his career. Nova will be making his fifth start returning from Tommy John surgery and in his 23 2/3 innings he's only struck out 12 while walking seven. It was expected he would have rust after being out a year, but even when healthy Nova has a 5.17 ERA in 12 career starts against the Baltimore with a 5-3 record.
The betting odds have New York as a -120 favorite (Wagerweb was at -114 earlier) and with two uncertain hurlers, the Bronx Bombers at home appear the stronger play being 14-4 at Yankee Stadium with a money line of -100 to -125 this season.
Advantage - Nova and New York
Pirates vs. Royals: Morton & Volquez
Pittsburgh has gotten off to a bumpy second half start at 1-4 with last night's loss, falling five games behind St. Louis. In spite of injuries, Kansas City is keeping it together and are -130 favorites to take the series.
The Royals will utilize Edinson Volquez (8-5, 3.28), who was 13-7 with a career-best 3.04 ERA with Pittsburgh last season, which included a brilliant 9-1 record in his last 17 starts with the Pirates with an ERA of 1.85, before signing with Kansas City. Volquez is beginning to resemble that same pitcher with a 2.16 ERA in his last three outings.
The Bucs Charlie Morton came off the DL in great fashion with a 5-0 record and miniscule 1.62 ERA in those five starts. Since then it has been all downhill and he's been roughed up, with a 8.03 ERA in his previous five tries.
For MLB picks, let's take the more reliable pitcher at home whose team is a solid 23-10 at Kauffman Stadium with a money line of -100 to -150 this season.
Advantage - Volquez and Kansas City
Twins vs. Angels: Pelfrey & Wilson
About the only thing that is going to cool off the Angels these days is multiple fire trucks with their hoses open at full blast. Los Angeles is averaging 6.7 runs while batting .297 in its last 14 games and has a baseball-best 26 homers during that span. This would not seem like a good time for Minnesota starter Mike Pelfrey (5-6, 4.00) to be struggling, yet he is. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 7.59 ERA in his last six starts and in three away outings has an unfathomable ERA of 17.69. (not a misprint)
Though he got a no-decision, C.J. Wilson (7-7, 3.59) is off one his best starts of 2015, allowing no runs and five hits over eight innings. He has a 2.64 ERA in last four trips to the bump and a 6-2 lifetime record versus the Twins despite a 5.67 ERA, which means he gotten by with a lot of offensive support.
The Halos and Wilson are MLB odds -160 favorites in seeking their seventh straight victory and this combo is 14-2 as a home favorite of -125 to -175 the last two seasons.
Advantage - Wilson and L.A.A.