Tuesday's Diamond Notes
July 18, 2017
By Joe Williams
Hottest team: Nationals (5-0 past five games, 9-2 past 11 overall) Coldest team: Diamondbacks (0-5 past five games, 1-8 past nine overall)
The Nationals completed a four-game sweep of their wrap-around series with the Reds in Cincinnati on Monday afternoon, outscoring the Redlegs by a 35-12 score. Now, they'll try their hand at interleague play in Southern California against the Angels and they'll really put the winning streak to the test with retread Edwin Jackson on the bump. The veteran right-hander appeared in three relief appearances for the Orioles this season, allowing four earned runs and 11 hits over five innings. Jackson won just two of his final eight starts last season for San Diego.
The Diamondbacks have really the skids lately, dropping five in a row. They've hit rock-bottom with a three-game sweep in Atlanta. Now, their road trip continues in Cincinnati. They dropped two of three to the Reds just before the All-Star break, so they're certainly looking to exact a little revenge. Arizona has dropped six in a row on the road, although they're 7-3 over their past 10 road games against a right-handed starter. And they send All-Star Robbie Ray to the mound. Arizona is 5-0 over his past five starts against a team with a losing overall record, 4-1 in his past five outings on the road and 7-2 over his past nine assignments overall. The D-Backs have won six of their past eight trips to Great American Ball Park on the banks of the Ohio River.
Hottest pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (14-2, 2.18 ERA)
The All-Star Kershaw takes the hill at Guaranteed Rate Park on the south side of Chicago in search of his 15th victory. He has posted a 14-2 record, 2.18 ERA and 159 strikeouts through 132 1/3 innings across 19 starts so far this season while holding the opposition to a .195 batting average. He also sports an impressive 0.88 WHIP, second-best in the majors behind Washington's Max Scherzer. Los Angeles has won four straight interleague games, six of the past seven on the road and 42 of 53 overall. They're even better with their ace, going 7-0 in Kershaw's past seven interleague assignments, 6-0 in his past six against the AL Central and 45-9 across his past 54 starts overall. Dominance.
Coldest pitcher: John Lackey, Cubs (5-9, 5.20 ERA)
The veteran Lackey gets another chance to prove himself, but so far this season has been a complete disaster. He sits four games under .500 on the season through 17 starts, issuing 30 walks with 86 strikeouts and a dismal 1.33 WHIP across 98 2/3 innings. Opponents are having moderate success against him, posting a .264 average with 101 hits, better than one per frame. Most of the damage has come via the home run, as Lackey has served up 24 bombs, tied for second-most in the majors and most overall in the NL. The Cubs are just 1-4 over his past five road starts and 0-4 in his past four tries against NL East foes. The good news is Chicago will be facing a left-handed starter, and they're 7-0 in their past seven tries against southpaws.
Biggest UNDER run: Angels (6-0-2 past eight games, 13-3-2 past 18 overall)
The 'under' has been a solid play in Angels games lately, as their offense has been really struggling and their pitching staff has been doing a good job. The Angels welcomed Mike Trout (thumb) back to the lineup after the All-Star break, but so far he hasn't made much of a difference. They're averaging just 2.7 runs per game in three outings since returning, and 2.6 runs per game over the past 17 outings overall. While they cut break out against journeyman Edwin Jackson on Tuesday, they have to face Gio Gonzalez (8-4, 2.66 ERA) on Wednesday in what might be another slam-dunk 'under' result.
Biggest OVER run: Astros (10-2-1 past 13 games overall)
The final two games of Houston's series against Minnesota resulted in a pair of 'under' plays, but it was right back to big offensive numbers in the series opener against Seattle. The teams combined for 16 runs in a 9-7 loss to the Mariners on Tuesday. With Sam Gaviglio against Brad Peacock on Tuesday, it's not exactly Sandy Koufax against Warren Spahn, so another 'over' result could follow. The over is 8-3 in Houston's past 11 at home, 12-3-1 in their past 16 overall and 7-1 when facing a starting pitcher with a WHIP over 1.30. While the under is 11-5 across Peacock's past 16 outings overall, the over is a perfect 4-0 in Houston's past four home games against a team with a losing road mark.
Matchup to watch: Athletics vs. Rays
The Rays have looked quite rejuvenated since the All-Star break. They're 3-1 in four games since the break, and 5-1 over their past six overall. Pitching has been a major part of their success, as Tampa Bay's pitching staff is allowing just 2.2 runs per game across the past six outings. As you can imagine, that's good for the 'under', too, going 4-1-1 during the span. The Athletics fired out of the chute with a three-game sweep of the Indians, but they fell back to Earth with a 3-2 loss in the series opener against Tampa Bay. Like Tampa, the A's have been getting quite the performance on the mound lately. Oakland's staff is allowing just 2.7 runs per game over the past six outings, so an 'under' looks mighty attractive on Tuesday.
Betcha didn’t know: Fellow handicapper Kevin Rogers, who can be followed on Twitter at VIROGERS, pointed out that Tuesday's Arizona-Cincinnati matchup features Ray-Romano, perhaps one of the funniest matchups on the board this season. It's not quite Fister-Furbush from a couple of seasons ago, or Dickey-Wang, but Ray-Romano is pretty good. There have been some quality pitcher-catcher combinations over the years, such as Buck-Hunter, Lyon-Treanor, Ellis-Eiland, May-Flowers and Peavy-Herrmann, just in case you were wondering.
Biggest public favorite: Dodgers (-255) at White Sox
Biggest public underdog: Rays (+110) at Athletics
Biggest line move: Braves (+130 to -105) vs. Cubs
Joe Williams can be followed on Twitter at JoeWilliamsVI.
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