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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:03 PM

Thursday's Diamond Notes

Hottest team: Brewers (6-3 last nine)

The hottest squad in the NL Central currently is the Cubs, who have won six consecutive games and sit one game out of first place. However, Chicago is off on Thursday as the top team in the division, Milwaukee, is fresh off a three-game home sweep of Minnesota. The Brewers own the second-most home victories in the National League with 27, while becoming the first team to reach the 50-win plateau in the NL (although four teams in the AL have won at least 55).

Milwaukee welcomes in Atlanta in a battle of first-place squads on Thursday as the Braves have dropped two straight. Jhoulys Chacin takes the mound in the series opener, as Milwaukee went through a stretch from late April through mid-June posting an impressive 10-1 mark when the right-hander took the mound. However, the Brewers have lost each of Chacin’s last three starts, in spite of him giving up one earned run in two of those outings.

Coldest team: Nationals (2-10 last 12)

Things are quickly unraveling for the defending NL East champions as Washington suffered a three-game home sweep at the hands of Boston. The offense is nowhere to be found as the Nationals have scored 15 runs in their last eight losses, while posting a 17-spot in a 10-run victory at Philadelphia last Friday. Not only has Washington slipped below the .500 mark, but the Nationals are currently seven games behind the Braves for first place in the division.

The Nationals hope to get on track as the Marlins visit D.C. for the weekend. Washington swept Miami in late May and has captured 11 straight matchups against its division rival since August 2017. Veteran Jeremy Hellickson heads to the hill tonight as the Nationals have put together an 8-1 mark to the UNDER in his last nine starts, while Washington is winless in his last two appearances.

Hottest pitcher: Yovani Gallardo, Rangers (2-0, 9.00 ERA)

From an ERA standpoint, this may not make a lot of sense why Gallardo is listed in this category. However, since joining Texas from Cincinnati in June, the Rangers have won all three of the right-hander’s starts since entering the rotation. The run support for Gallardo has been extremely helpful, as the Rangers 11 runs a game in this stretch, while the veteran is fresh off a seven-strikeout performance in a blowout win over the White Sox. Gallardo squares off with a struggling Tigers’ squad on Thursday, as Detroit has dropped 13 of its last 15 games.

Coldest pitcher: Justin Verlander, Astros (9-4, 2.12 ERA)

Justin Verlander, the former MVP and Cy Young winner owning a miniscule ERA is in this category? This is true as Verlander, who owned a 1.60 ERA after a 2-1 home defeat to the Rays on June 19, has been tagged for 16 hits and nine earned runs in his last two outings. Houston has failed to pick up a victory in Verlander’s last three trips to the mound, which has occurred twice this season. The good news is after his first three-start winless streak in May, Verlander turned in complete-game shutout over the Angels. Verlander is listed as a nearly -300 favorite in Thursday’s series opener against the White Sox, who Houston outscored, 27-2 in a three-game sweep in Chicago back in April.

Biggest OVER run: White Sox (12-3 last 15)

Chicago continues its 10-game road trip after dropping two of three at Cincinnati in spite of holding the lead in both losses. The Sox head down to Houston as their pitching staff has yielded at least five runs in each of the first six games of this trip. The offense has been terrific in the two road wins by scoring 10 and 12 runs, but has been limited to fewer than four runs in all four defeats. The task won’t be easy tonight against Houston’s Justin Verlander, while Sox starter Carlos Rodon has seen the OVER cash in each of his last three starts.

Biggest UNDER run: Tigers (7-1 last eight)

Detroit’s offense has disappeared of late by scoring three runs or less in seven of the past eight contests, while posting a total of five runs in a pair of losses in Chicago to the Cubs. The pitching hasn’t been terrible recently, as Detroit allowed a total of 11 runs in a four-game split at Toronto last weekend. But the lack of offense firepower has caught up with them since sitting at 36-37 on Father’s Day. The Tigers return to Comerica Park to host the Rangers for a four-game set, as Matthew Boyd heads to the mound in the opener. Boyd is winless in his last three outings, while giving up 14 runs in this stretch, as Detroit has hit the OVER in two of his past three home starts.

Matchup to watch: Cardinals vs. Giants

Two teams that have plenty of playoff experience this decade are seeking consistency as they hook up at AT&T Park this weekend. San Francisco swept Arizona last weekend, but its offense disappeared as it was swept by Colorado, while plating a total of three runs. The Cardinals dropped a three-game set at home to the Braves last weekend, but captured two of three at Arizona, including Wednesday’s 8-4 triumph.

Johnny Cueto makes his first start for the Giants since getting sidelined in April due to an elbow sprain. Cueto put together terrific numbers through his first five outings by posting a 3-0 record and 0.84 ERA, while tossing scoreless efforts against the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Angels. In last season’s lone start against the Cardinals, Cueto was staked to a 5-2 lead before St. Louis rallied for an 11-6 win as he scattered four hits and two runs in 5.1 innings of work.

Luke Weaver counters for the Cardinals, as the right-hander has actually been more productive on the road than at home. St. Louis has won six of Weaver’s eight away outings, compared to a 2-6 mark at Busch Stadium. Weaver was knocked around in his last start against Atlanta by giving up 10 hits and eight runs in 4.2 innings of an 11-4 loss. In Weaver’s past three away starts, the Cardinals’ offense has scored at least seven runs as St. Louis put together a 3-0 mark in those games.

Betcha didn’t know: This PSA can’t be put out enough regarding the Padres. San Diego has compiled a remarkable 5-23 record in series openers this season as the Padres travel to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks. The Padres have dropped eight straight Game 1’s of a series, but did capture the series opener at Chase Field back in April, for what it’s worth.

Biggest public favorite: Astros (-300) vs. White Sox

Biggest public underdog: Rangers (+105) at Tigers

Biggest line move: Diamondbacks (-139 to -148) vs. Padres

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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