Blue Jays (8-5) @ Houston Astros (6-6)
|Friday||Ross Stripling (3.00 ERA, 3.27 xERA, 3.57 FIP)||Justin Verlander (0.69 ERA, 2.54 xERA, 2.69 FIP)|
|Saturday||Alek Manoah (1.50 ERA, 2.37 xERA, 3.74 FIP)||Jose Urquidy (7.00 ERA, 7.32 xERA, 5.41 FIP)|
|Sunday||Yusei Kikuchi (3.24 ERA, 4.32 xERA, 5.23 FIP)||Luis Garcia (2.79 ERA, 3.91 xERA, 3.69 FIP)|
As the odds currently stand, the Blue Jays (+400) and the Astros (+480) are the teams with the two lowest betting odds to win the American League pennant per FanDuel Sportsbook. The Blue Jays are coming off a series in which they took two out of three games from the Red Sox in Boston. The Blue Jays lineup headlined by 2021 AL MVP runner-up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is off to a solid start, but Teoscar Hernandez (side) is on the Injured List, George Springer (bruised arm) missed a few innings on Wednesday and didn’t start Thursday, and Bo Bichette is off to a slow start to the season. In their first series at home this season, the Astros were only able to win one out of three games against the Angels. Although they have one of the most talented lineups in MLB, they have a team .199 batting average and 92 wRC+. To make matters worse, Jose Altuve (hamstring) was placed on the Injured List. The Astros’ brightest sport has been rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña who has hit .308/.364/.590 (181 wRC+) while also playing elite defense (99th percentile OAA).
My prediction: Astros take two out of three
Brewers (8-5) @ Phillies (5-8)
|Friday||Freddy Peralta (11.57 ERA, 6.32 xERA, 5.06 FIP)||Ranger Suarez (5.87 ERA, 4.20 xERA, 5.01 FIP)|
|Saturday||Adrian Houser (2.89 ERA, 4.67 xERA, 3.49 FIP)||Zack Wheeler (9.39 ERA, 5.21 xERA, 5.93 FIP)|
|Sunday||Eric Lauer (3.48 ERA, 3.339 xERA, 4.51 FIP)||Aaron Nola (5.52 ERA, 3.36 xERA, 5.85 FIP)|
Before the season many people predicted that both the Brewers and Phillies will make the postseason. The Brewers easily won the NL Central in 2021 winning 95 games, but they were bounced in the NL Division Series by the Braves and didn’t do much in the offseason to improve their team. The Phillies, on the other hand, barely finished above .500 last season and had a huge offseason signing Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber, and Corey Knebel among others. The Brewers are currently on a four-game winning streak after beating the Cardinals and then sweeping the lowly Pirates. Despite a strong record, the Brewers’ offense has struggled up to this point in the season ranking 24th in MLB with an 85 wRC+. The hottest Brewer has been Rowdy Tellez who has hit .270/.325/.595 (161 wRC+) and has hit a home run in each of the last two games. As for the Phillies, they’re coming off a series in which they were only able to take one out of three from the Rockies. Although 2021 NL MVP Bryce Harper is off to a bad start at the plate by his standard (109 wRC+) and Kyle Schwarber has had a similar start (104 wRC+), the Phillies’ offense has the seventh-best team wRC+ in MLB (117) carried by Nick Castellanos (173 wRC+), Johan Camargo (173 wRC+), and Alec Bohm (211 wRC+). Despite their offense clicking, the Phillies’ pitching staff has the third-worst team ERA in MLB at 5.22.
My prediction: Phillies take two out of three
Red Sox (6-7) @ Rays (7-6)
|Friday||Michael Wacha (0.96 ERA, 1.89 xERA, 2.74 FIP)||Corey Kluber (1.86 ERA, 4.42 xERA, 3.78 FIP)|
|Sunday||Rich Hill (7.00 ERA, 4.30 xERA, 5.61 FIP)||Shane McClanahan (2.40 ERA, 2.40 xERA, 2.79 FIP)|
Without a doubt, the American League East is one of (if not the) best divisions in MLB. The Blue Jays (-650), Yankees (-450), Rays (-180), and Red Sox (-120) are all teams looking to make the postseason, and there’s a chance all four teams can make it due to the new expanded format (odds via DraftKings). After losing two out of three games to the Blue Jays in their last series, the Red Sox are looking to bounce back in another AL East showdown. The Red Sox’s team 87 wRC+ ranks 22nd in MLB despite Xander Bogaerts (166 wRC+), Alex Verdugo (148 wRC+), J.D. Martinez (139 wRC+), and Rafael Devers (125 wRC+) all swinging the bat well. It doesn’t help that J.D. Martinez (left adductor tightness) is listed day to day and could miss some of this upcoming series against the Rays. Additionally, the Red Sox’s pitching staff hasn’t gotten off to a hot start either as they rank 20th in MLB team ERA (3.96). The Rays are coming off of a series in which they won two out of three games against the Cubs in Chicago. The Rays’ offense has been great so far this season as they have the fourth-best team wRC+ (121) in MLB. It’s been a collective offensive effort for the Rays as eight players (min 10 PA) have a wRC+ above 100 (Harold Ramirez, Yandy Diaz, Manuel Margot, Taylor Walls, Brandon Lowe, Francisco Mejia, Ji-Man Choi, Wander Franco) and two players have a wRC+ above 200 (Ji-Man Choi and Wander Franco). For the Rays to have repeat 100-win seasons, their pitching staff will need to step up as they currently have MLB’s 16th-best team ERA (3.73).
My prediction: Rays take two out of three
Los Angeles Dodgers (9-3) @ San Diego Padres (9-5)
|Friday||Julio Urias (3.86 ERA, 4.51 xERA, 5.20 FIP)||Nick Martinez (4.50 ERA, 6.54 xERA, 6.96 FIP)|
|Saturday||TBD||Yu Darvish (6.28 ERA, 5.00 xERA, 4.73 FIP)|
|Sunday||Clayton Kershaw (3.00 ERA, 1.39 xERA, 1.89 FIP)||Sean Manaea (1.42 ERA, 2.19 xERA, 2.53 FIP)|
When debating which division is the best in MLB, the NL West is at the forefront of that conversation. With the Dodgers, Padres, Giants, and even the Rockies who are off to a hot start this season, there are multiple teams in the division looking to win the World Series. In Freddie Freeman’s first series against his former team, the Dodgers won two out of three games against the Braves. Like the Rays, the Dodgers have eight players (min 10 PA) with a wRC+ above 100 (Edwin Rios, Will Smith, Austin Barnes, Trea Turner, Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, Gavin Lux, Freddie Freeman) which is part of the reason why they have MLB’s sixth-best wRC+ (119) even though Mookie Betts, Max Muncy, and Justin Turner are off to slow starts at the plate. Additionally, the Dodgers’ pitching staff has been dominant so far as their 2.38 ERA is the best in MLB. Despite starting the season without their star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (left wrist), the Padres have started the season off well including a sweep against the Reds in their previous series. Without Tatis Jr., the Padres’ offense has been carried by Manny Machado (204 wRC+), Jurickson Profar (185 wRC+), and Eric Hosmer (162 wRC+) who have carried the team to a 108 wRC+ which is the 12th best in MLB. The Padres’ pitching staff has also gotten off to a strong start this season as their 3.15 ERA is the ninth-best in MLB.
My prediction: Padres take two out of three