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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:02 PM

Friday's Diamond Notes

Hottest team: Rockies (7-0 last seven)

Colorado began August by losing seven of nine games to slip to 60-55 and 3 ½ games behind both Arizona and Los Angeles for the top spot in the NL West. Since that rough stretch, the Rockies have won 29 of 44 contests to move into first place in the division, capped off by a four-game sweep of the Phillies. Colorado outscored Philadelphia, 39-7 in the four victories, while improving to 11-3 in its past 14 games at Coors Field.

The Rockies own a one-game edge over the Dodgers heading into Friday’s action as the disappointing Nationals invade Denver. Kyle Freeland has been Colorado’s hottest pitcher over the last two months as the Rockies have compiled an impressive 14-2 mark in his past 16 starts, while the NL West leaders are 9-0 in his previous nine home outings. The Rockies grabbed three of four from the Nationals in D.C. back in April, including a 2-1 win started by Freeland in the second game of the series.

Coldest team: Phillies (0-8 last eight)

Things change quickly in baseball as the Phillies were 64-49 on August 7 and on top of the NL East race. Heading into the final weekend of the season, Philadelphia not only has nothing to play for, but are going to finish with a losing record. The Phillies had an outside chance of catching the Braves for the top spot in the division last weekend, but were swept in a four-game series, then put up a real clunker in four losses at Colorado.

Philadelphia posted a 14-32 record in the last 46 games, as the only team who put together a worse mark in this stretch is Baltimore, a team that has lost 112 games. The Phillies return to Citizens Bank Park trying to end the season on a positive note, taking on the division champion Braves. Jerad Eickhoff makes his first start of the season for Philadelphia after compiling a 4-8 record and 4.71 ERA in 2017.

Hottest pitcher: Mike Fiers, Athletics (12-7, 3.31 ERA)

Oakland made two of the shrewdest moves this past summer by picking up Fiers and Edwin Jackson to help out its rotation. When those two right-handers start for the A’s, Oakland owns an incredible 22-4 record this season, including an 8-1 mark in Fiers’ nine starts. Unfortunately, only three of those starts came on the highway as Oakland is 2-1 in those road outings, including a loss at Tampa Bay in his most recent away appearance. Fiers faced the Angels in late May as a member of the Tigers as he allowed one earned run in 5.2 innings of a 6-1 victory as a heavy home underdog.

Coldest pitcher: Wade Leblanc, Mariners (8-5, 3.55 ERA)

Leblanc has put together a solid season for a banged-up Seattle pitching rotation. However, Leblanc hasn’t had much luck when pitching at Safeco Field as the Mariners are winless in his past four home starts, including recent losses to last-place squads Baltimore and San Diego. The southpaw takes on another cellar dweller when Texas visits Seattle on Friday as the Rangers tagged Leblanc for eight hits and three runs in five innings of a 6-1 win in Arlington last Sunday.

Biggest OVER run: Nationals (4-0 last four)

Washington needs to win one of its final three games of the season to finish with a winning record, but the Nats will be missing the playoffs for the first time since 2015. The Nationals’ offense has stepped up of late as Bryce Harper’s future is in question with the All-Star outfielder headed to free agency this winter. Washington has plated at least six runs in five straight games, while putting up nine runs in each of the past two games in blowouts of Miami. Joe Ross takes the mound for Washington as the right-hander has seen the UNDER cash in his first two starts.

Biggest UNDER run: Reds (12-0 last 12)

Cincinnati’s offense is closing the season with a dud by scoring three runs or less in 13 of its last 14 games, while dropping five straight games to Miami and Kansas City. The last time the Reds scored more than four runs in a game came back on September 10 against the Dodgers, as Cincinnati’s lineup looks to bust out against Pittsburgh this weekend. The Reds have lost six consecutive matchups with the Pirates, while getting limited to six runs in a three-game sweep at PNC Park earlier this month. Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani is coming off three straight losses, but the Reds have scored a total of two runs in those defeats.

Matchup to watch: Dodgers vs. Giants

Last October, Los Angeles hosted Game 7 of the World Series and ultimately lost to Houston. Now, the Dodgers are one bad weekend away from not even qualifying for the playoffs this time around as L.A. sits one game behind Colorado in the NL West. However, the Dodgers are currently sitting in the final Wild Card spot, one game ahead of the Cardinals as Los Angeles heads north to San Francisco to face the rival Giants.

The Dodgers dropped the final two games of their series at Arizona to fall out of first place, but L.A. has compiled a terrific 11-1 record in its last 12 away series openers. Hyun-Jin Ryu is coming off a pair of scoreless efforts in home wins over the Rockies and Padres, while striking out 13 batters and walking none in 13 innings. The Dodgers are 1-1 in Ryu’s two starts against the Giants this season, as the southpaw tossed six scoreless innings in a 4-3 victory at Chavez Ravine in mid-August.

The Giants have faltered in September by going 5-18, including an 11-game losing streak to start the month. Staff ace Madison Bumgarner has a long history with the Dodgers that includes several benches-clearing incidents, as the Giants cashed with the southpaw starting in a 5-2 win on August 13 as a +180 road underdog. San Francisco has won six of Bumgarner’s previous eight starts at AT&T Park, while not allowing a run in his last three home outings (20 innings).

Betcha didn’t know: The Marlins need three victories to finish OVER their season win total, meaning they need a three-game sweep of the Mets at Citi Field. Since Miami’s Jose Urena beaned Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna, Jr. on August 15 on the first pitch of the game, the Marlins are 5-1 in the right-hander’s last six starts, including three road victories. It’s a great turnaround for Urena, as the Marlins lost his first 12 outings of the season.

Biggest public favorite: Brewers (-210) vs. Tigers

Biggest public underdog: Red Sox (+110) vs. Yankees

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

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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