Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:03 AM

Thursday's Diamond Notes

Hottest team: Diamondbacks (7-3 last 10)

The National League West race is by far the most exciting heading into the final two months with three teams separated by one game for the top spot. Entering tonight’s play, Arizona and Los Angeles are tied for first place with Colorado sitting one game behind. The D-backs rebounded from a shocking loss to the Rangers on Monday by beating Texas on Tuesday to gain the series split and improve to 7-3 in the last 10 games. Arizona’s offense has scored at least five runs in six consecutive games, while hosting San Francisco and Philadelphia in the next two series.

Zack Greinke has been terrific for the D-backs of late as Arizona has won seven of his past eight starts. Greinke has allowed two earned runs in his previous three outings, while beating the Giants at home in mid-April in his only start against San Francisco this season. Since the start of 2017, Arizona has won all four starts made by Greinke against the Giants, including a 3-0 mark at Chase Field.

Coldest team: Padres (2-8 last 10)

At the bottom of the NL West sits the San Diego Padres, who begin Thursday’s action 18 games out of first place. The Padres have dropped seven straight games overall and own a dreadful 4-17 record the last 21 contests since winning at Arizona on July 5. San Diego suffered through a winless homestand by going 0-5 against Arizona and San Francisco, while finishing July with a 1-12 record at Petco Park.

Things don’t get easier for the Padres as they travel to Wrigley Field to face the NL Central-leading Cubs for a four-game series beginning tonight. The Cubs swept the Padres at Petco Park in July, as Robbie Erlin tries to turn around San Diego’s luck tonight. Erlin makes his third start of the season, while spending the last two months coming out of the bullpen. How long has it been since Erlin won a start on the big league level? September 2015 against Arizona, so it will be a tall task for the Padres to end their skid tonight.

Hottest pitcher: Max Scherzer, Nationals (14-5, 2.30 ERA)

Scherzer is on his way to a third consecutive Cy Young award as he continues to lead the National League in wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched. The right-hander has won four consecutive starts, including a three-hit performance in eight innings and striking out 11 batters in a 9-1 victory over Miami last Friday. Scherzer is nearly a -300 favorite in Thursday’s series opener against the last-place Reds, as the ace didn’t allow a run in the season opening win at Cincinnati as a -195 favorite.

Coldest pitcher: Jason Vargas, Mets (2-6, 8.36 ERA)

It’s amazing to think Vargas picked up 18 victories last season for the Royals as the southpaw owns a bloated ERA of 8.36 and just two wins. Vargas and the Mets are winless in his past four starts, while getting tagged for 10 runs in his last two outings at Colorado and Pittsburgh. The last time Vargas picked up a win came at Atlanta in late May as a +135 underdog, as he and the Mets host the Braves tonight at Citi Field.

Biggest OVER run: Rays (5-0 last five)

Tampa Bay continues its inconsistent play after getting swept by Baltimore this past weekend, but capturing the first two games with the Angels at home. The Rays’ offense has knocked around Los Angeles pitching by scoring 17 runs in the first two victories, while finally getting its pitching back on track by allowing two runs in Tuesday’s blowout. Tampa Bay is still riding a nice OVER streak going into Thursday’s finale as Hunter Wood makes his fourth start of the season. The Angels will be without slugger Mike Trout today, while Los Angeles owns a 3-1 mark to the OVER in Andrew Heaney’s last four road starts.

Biggest UNDER run: Phillies (4-0 last four)

Philadelphia seeks its 60th win of the season tonight after racking up 66 victories in 2017. The Phillies welcome in the struggling Marlins as Philadelphia’s offense tries to get back on track. Philadelphia snapped a four-game skid in Tuesday’s 3-1 triumph at Boston, but the Phillies have been limited to six runs in the past four contests. Granted, those four games came away from Citizens Bank Park as they return to the friendly confines tonight where they have scored at least five runs in five of the past six home games. Nick Pivetta is not a candidate to keep this UNDER run going as the Phillies are 7-0-1 to the OVER in his past eight starts.

Matchup to watch: Yankees vs. Red Sox

If the Yankees want to make a run for the top spot in the American League East race, this is the weekend to do it. New York ventures to Boston for an important four-game series at Fenway Park as the Bronx Bombers begin Thursday’s play five games out of first place. Both teams are fresh off home losses in their last game as the Yankees were shocked by the last-place Orioles on Wednesday, while the Red Sox were tripped up by the Phillies on Tuesday.

The Yankees have responded well off a loss recently by posting an impressive 12-1 record in their past 13 off a defeat. CC Sabathia has seen plenty of success against Boston dating back to 2017 as the Yankees have won five of his last six starts against their arch-rivals when the southpaw gets the ball. The Yankees have compiled a 4-1 mark in Sabathia’s past five trips to the mound, which includes an 8-1 victory over the Red Sox in late June.

Fellow left-hander Brian Johnson counters for Boston in the opener, as he is winless in his last two starts in spite of allowing two unearned runs against the Tigers and Twins. Boston’s offense didn’t help Johnson in those games by scoring a total of one run in those defeats. The Yankees own a slight 5-4 edge over the Red Sox this season, but Boston is 2-1 in three matchups at Fenway Park.

Betcha didn’t know: The Brewers look to rebound following Wednesday’s walk-off loss to the Dodgers as Milwaukee tries to pick up the series victory tonight. Jhoulys Chacin has pitched well of late for Milwaukee as the right-hander is 4-0 in his past five starts, including a victory at San Francisco in his last outing. Chacin is a heavy underdog opposite Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw, as Los Angeles has won each of his past three starts as a favorite of -200 or higher. Oh by the way, the Dodgers welcome in the Astros in a World Series rematch on Friday, so we wonder if this is a look-ahead spot for Los Angeles.

Biggest public favorite: Nationals (-280) vs. Reds

Biggest public underdog: Royals (+120) at White Sox

Biggest line move: Padres (+170 to +150) at Cubs

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

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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