Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:03 PM
Editor's Note: Don't miss out on 30 days of Winning Baseball Picks from Joe Williams for the 2017-18 MLB regular season. Click to win!
Hang A Left
As you might expect, the contenders dot the list of top teams against left-handed starting pitchers. The championship-caliber teams can bat against anyone. Some of these teams might even add more muscle at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline to bolster their situational hitting or benches, too. It's a matter of the rich getting richer, and the poor teams selling off key assets because they simply cannot afford them.
Fade the losing sides, as those who have struggled against left-handed starting pitching this season have been really bad. By this point, the losing teams are who we thought they were, and they're not suddenly going to flick a switch and get better. In fact, they might even be a little worse down the stretch. Baltimore, Miami and N.Y. Mets are just off the list below, but they also turned in winning percentages under .400 vs. LHP.
|2018 Records vs. LHP starters (through 7/25)|
Saturday, July 28
The Indians have dominated the Tigers this season, heading into Friday's series opener with 10 wins in 13 tries against Detroit this season. They'll look to keep it going on Saturday with Mike Clevinger on the hill against Blaine Hardy. The Indians RHP posted a quality start in his earlier appearance at Comerica Field on June 9, allowing two earned runs, four hits and three walks with five strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. Facing the Tigers might be just what he needs to snap a personal three-start losing streak. Clevinger is 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA across 34 1/3 innings over six starts and one relief appearances against Detroit, and he has recorded 20 strikeouts over 20 2/3 innings in his career at Comerica.
For an American League pitcher, Kevin Gausman's 4.54 ERA and 1.37 WHIP is rather ordinary. It isn't terribly by any stretch, but his 4-8 record has been rough because of Baltimore's lack of run support. Gausman has won just once over his past 12 outings dating back to May 11, a win at home against the Rays. In that victory, Gausman allowed just two earned runs while scattering 11 hits over 7 1/3 innings, and he was 3-2 with a 3.18 ERA through eight outings. It's been mostly downhill ever since, but perhaps a familiar set of faces in the opposing dugout will get him going. Of course, the second time the Rays saw him on May 27 in St. Petersburg, they torched him for seven runs, six hits and two walks in just 2 2/3 innings, his shortest start of the season.
Felix Hernandez is no longer the ace who would dominate a team, or intimidate them just by showing up. He is a shell of himself, as is evidenced by his 8-8 record, 5.14 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. There is a lot of mileage on the 32-year-old's right arm. This will be just his second outing against the Angels this season, and he hopes it ends better than earlier. On May 6, the Halos touched him up for five earned runs, seven hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings in a loss. Even when King Felix was humming along at an All-Star caliber, Mike Trout wasn't impressed. The slugger has owned him, going 30-for-81 (.370) with four doubles, two triples, seven homers and 19 RBI while turning in a 1.146 OPS. Ian Kinsler has also had some success, posting four doubles, four homers and a .785 OPS in 87 career at-bats. Of course, Trout has whiffed 27 times vs. Hernandez, and Felix has struck out Albert Pujols 15 times in 65 at-bats, too.
The great news for Saturday's slate of games is that precipitation is unlikely in any of the venues. However, wind will play a factor next to San Francisco Bay, affecting the Brewers and Giants. Winds will be howling from 17-20 mph from home plate to the left-center field power alley, so watch the total in this one.
Sunday, July 29
The Phillies head into Cincinnati to take on the Reds, and Zach Eflin will put his winning streak on the line. He has won each of his past six decisions, and hasn't lost since May 30 on the road against the Dodgers. Eflin has just one previous appearance in his career against the Reds, but that came in 2017 when he was absolutely atrocious. For the record, he allowed seven earned runs, nine hits and a career-high four homers to the Reds on May 28 last season at Citizens Bank Park. This will be his first-ever appearance at Great American Ball Park. The Reds enter Thursday's action at just 7-12 against the NL East this season.
Nathan Eovaldi will make his debut for the Boston Red Sox on Sunday afternoon. The Red Sox and the right-handed veteran hope it goes a little better than his outing at Target Field on July 13 as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. Eovaldi was tuned up for eight earned runs, nine hits and a pair of walks over just 2 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. In fact, Eovaldi had lasted at least five innings in each of his other nine starts this season. The Twins hitters do not have a long history against the righty, but collectively the current Minnesota roster is hitting .328 (21-for-64) with a double, two triples, four homers and 16 RBI with a .999 OPS against him.
The Cubs and Cardinals will do battle on Sunday Night Baseball at Busch Stadium II. Despite OK numbers with a 4.05 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs has a subpar 6-9 record. He has a 3.53 ERA in 11 starts at home, and a poor 4.70 ERA in 10 outings on the road, as the opposition is hitting .282 against him away from the Friendly Confines. He has a victory in two previous outings this season against the Cardinals, going 1-0 with a 5.06 ERA over 10 2/3 innings, but the Cards are hitting .356 against him in the brief encounters. He did post a quality start in his only previous appearance this season at Busch, allowing three earned runs, seven hits and four waks over six innings. In fact, that was his second most recent win, and that came June 16. Since the start of the 2015 season, Hendricks is 3-1 with a 3.76 ERA in eight starts against St. Louis.
The Cardinals will run RHP John Gant out for the start. He was impressive in his most recent start on July 21, a game in Wrigley Field, allowing just four hits and three walks over five scoreless innings while racking up a pair of strikeouts. St. Louis entered the season just 1-6 in the past seven games at home, while going 1-5 in the past six at home against teams with a winning road record. The 'over' has hit in five consecutive meetings in this series heading into Friday's series opener.
The weather will also be very fair across baseball, with a similar trouble spot on Sunday. The Brewers and Giants will again be dealing with a stiff jetstream from home plate to straightaway center field, blowing anywhere from 14-17 mph. Again, watch the totals.
For the Sunday night game, the Cubs and Cardinals could be dodging raindrops, as there is a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms in the forecast from 6pm CDT to 8pm CDT. That could mean a slight delay for the nationally televised NL Central battle, but a postponement doesn't appear likely, as the weather clears by the middle innings.