A Look Around MLB: Yankees Hot, Kershaw-Bumgarner Battle On Horizon

Willie Bee

Friday, April 21, 2017 2:29 PM UTC

Friday, Apr. 21, 2017 2:29 PM UTC

The New York Yankees have been defying the MLB odds so far as they begin a week-long trip through Pittsburgh and Boston. How long can they keep the good times rolling?

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the New York Yankees, and it looked like it when they got off to a 1-4 start. That stumble out of the gate is behind them now, and the Yanks are instead in the thick of the race heading into this weekend as the hottest team going.

Lined as 12/1 picks to win the American League, eighth on MLB futures odds, the Yankees head into play Friday a half-game behind Baltimore in the AL East and a half in front of Boston. Their current 9-1 run included sweeps of both the Rays and Cardinals, and the next week will provide their sternest test so far as they open a series in Pittsburgh with a trip to Fenway against rival Boston up next.

Pitching has been the strength, New York's arms third in the majors with a 3.02 ERA. The bullpen has been snuffing the opposition with a big-league best 1.27 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, which is second. All that pitching might lead some to think of a lot of 'under' winners, but thanks to an offense averaging 5.13 RPG and leading the league with 22 homers, MLB odds have gone 'over' in nine of the 15 games. We'll have to see how long CC Sabathia can keep his fine pitching as well as Chase Headley and Starlin Castro maintaining their pace at the plate, but for now the Yankees look like they'll at least be a player in the postseason race.


Injuries Playing Part In Toronto's Horrible Start

At the other end of the hot meter right now -- and no surprise to see in the AL East basement as a result -- are the Toronto Blue Jays. Owners of the worst record in the majors (3-12), the Jays are a full 7½ games out in the division thanks in large part to an impotent offense.

Now, I won't go so far as to say Toronto is finished as a recent article at ESPN suggests, but John Gibbons and his staff have to figure out a way to get the lineup going or the Blue Jays will dig too big of a hole to climb out. An injury to former MVP Josh Donaldson (out 2-4 weeks) doesn't help, but a team with the likes of Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista and Kendrys Morales should be scoring more than 3.14 RPG. And they'll need to put more runs up now that starting pitchers Aaron Sanchez (fingernail) and JA Happ (elbow) are out.

Toronto begins a 7-game road trip with four in Anaheim against the Angels this weekend. The Blue Jays will call up Mat Latos to get the series started, and Bookmaker is selling them as +130 underdogs. After this long set in Anaheim, the Jays travel to St. Louis.


Can Kershaw-Bumgarner Duel Live Up To Hype?

We mentioned the big series next week between the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway, and that's always a rivalry fans and bettors keep their eyes on. But the biggest series coming up takes place in San Francisco, where the Giants host the Los Angeles Dodgers starting Monday. It's the first meeting of 2017 between these old foes and should include one of the most-hyped pitching matchups of the season.

We are on track for a showdown between Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner in the second game of that series Tuesday, what would be the eighth confrontation between the southpaws since the start of 2015. The Dodgers have won the last four meetings, including all three last year, after the Giants won three of four collisions in 2014. Five of those matchups were 'under' winners, and we're hoping to have this game on our free baseball picks schedule with Kershaw and LA projected to be -130 road chalk.

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