Blue Jays (18-13): Chris Bassitt / Pirates (20-11): Rich Hill / First Pitch: 6:35 p.m. ET
The Pirates took one on the chin this week in Tampa – dropping all 3 games of the series by a combined score of 15-4. It’s not necessarily time to panic in Pittsburgh. This sweep doesn’t mean the Pirates are bad, it just means they’re not up to the level of the Rays. Tampa is ranked #1 this week in the MLB Power Rankings and have been for most of the season.
A second bad series against Toronto could really send Pittsburgh into a spiral, though. The Jays are an excellent ball club, too, and the Pirates really need some wins here to avoid the dreaded “can’t beat good teams” label.
In Game 1, the Buccos turn to the 43-year-old veteran Rich Hill. Hill is 3-2 with a 4.18 ERA on the year. He’s walked away a winner in each of his last 3 starts – although they were against a who’s who of the bad teams in baseball, namely Colorado, Cincinnati, and Washington.
The Jays are throwing Chris Bassitt in the series opener. Bassitt is also 3-2 but with an elevated 5.18 ERA across 6 starts. Bassitt is hot, too, posting a 2-0 record in his last 3 starts. Bassitt will walk a few guys but as a ground ball pitcher, gets out of his fare share of jams with the double play ball.
The total for this game is sitting at 9 runs with the Blue Jays favored moderately.
Red Sox (18-14): Chris Sale / Phillies (15-17): Zack Wheeler / First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET
Remember his glory days when Chris Sale made 7 consecutive All-Star games and finished top-6 in the Cy Young voting each of those seasons? He was taking steps in the right direction in 2021 and 2022 but kept having to leave the field with injuries. Now 34 years old, Sale is being given his last chance … and he’s not doing so hot.
Sale is 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA through 6 starts in 2023. His walk and strikeout numbers are very strong, but he’s getting hit all around Fenway Park – allowing a .280 batting average against (career worst), 39.3% hard hit rate (career worst), and 1.47 WHIP (career worst).
The Red Sox are hoping Sale finally turned a corner after winning his last start against Cleveland. The lefty went 6.1 strong with just 3 hits and 1 run allowed. He struck out 5.
The Phillies are throwing Zack Wheeler. He’s not been as good in 2023 as he’s been in the past, either. For Wheeler, poor luck on batted ball stats is what were mucking up his stats earlier in the year. He’s starting to get into form, too, however, with a 6-inning shutout in Houston last Saturday.
Vegas has set the total for this series opener at 8.5 runs. The Phils are sizable favorites.
Orioles (20-10): Dean Kremer / Braves (21-10): Max Fried / First Pitch: 7:20 p.m. ET
Most surely overlooked this Orioles-Braves interleague weekend series when schedules were released for the 2023 MLB season, but we now know this is going to be a heavyweight fight. The Braves are leading the NL East while the O’s are just a few games back of the MLB-best Rays for tops in the AL East.
Atlanta is used to being atop the division – winners of 5 straight NL East titles. Baltimore? Not so much. The Orioles last AL East title came in 2014. Before that? 1997.
Both sides come into this one having won yesterday and winning their previous series. Balitmore took 2 of 3 on the Southside while the Braves went into Miami and swept the Marlins. By record, this matchup will be the toughest test for both of these teams. The Braves aren’t scared. They are 11-9 versus winning opponents in 2023. Baltimore is 6-6.
Atlanta certainly has the starting pitching advantage in Game 1 with last year’s NL Cy Young runner up – Max Fried. Fried is 2-0 with a 0.45 ERA and a complete game shutout already in just 4 starts. He’s only walked 4 batters in 20 innings. He’s been as good as it gets.
Baltimore will counter with Dean Kremer – a man who is 2-1 but wears an ugly 6.67 ERA through 6 starts. Fried has only walked 4 guys all year? Kremer walked 4 in his first 2 starts. Long balls have plagued Kremer this year. He’s already surrendered 7 of them (in 29.2 innings) and has just 2 starts this year in which he hasn’t allowed at least one.
Kremer’s last outing was terrible – a 5-inning losing effort in Detroit in which he allowed 5 runs on 11 hits (but no home runs). The Orioles lost this game 7-4. It was the only loss versus Detroit this year in 7 games.
The total for this Friday evening affair sits at 9 runs with more action on the over. The oddsmakers give Baltimore a lot of respect. The moneyline is Braves (-150)ish. We expected to have to lay more to take Atlanta.
Dodgers (19-13): Clayton Kershaw / Padres (17-15): Yu Darvish / First Pitch: 9:40 p.m. ET
Joe Musgrove was originally slated to start this game for San Diego, but Darvish will toeing the slab Friday night instead. Musgrove is tentatively scheduled to pitch the series finale Sunday.
Dodgers-Padres. In a lot of seasons, it’s Dodgers-Giants matchups that wind up determining the NL West. Spending in the neighborhood of $300 million is all the Padres had to do to give themselves a fighting chance at unseating the Dodgers. LA has won the West in 9 of the past 10 seasons. The last time a team who wasn’t Los Angeles or San Francisco won the NL West was 2011 (Arizona). San Diego’s last division title was in 2006.
This weekend marks the first meeting in 2023 between Los Angeles and San Diego. The Padres have played the other 3 teams in their division already and are 8-3 in those games. The Dodgers have as well are 7-6 in their divisional games.
Both of these teams are red hot. The Dodgers are winners of 6 straight and 8 of 10. The Padres have won 7 of 10. San Diego has played a whopping 20 games versus winning teams and are keeping their heads above water with a 10-10 record in those contests. The Dodgers are 5-9 versus good teams – a possible red flag.
Clayton Kershaw is on the hill again for the Dodgers. He’s 35 years old and will be making his 46th career regular season start versus San Diego. The Dodgers have won 9 of Kershaw’s last 11 starts against the Padres dating back to May of 2019.
On the season, Kershaw is 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA in 6 starts. So … pretty good. Age is hampering him yet.
Yu Darvish is 36 but is in just his 11th big league season (this is Kershaw’s 16th). He didn’t come over from Japan until he was 25 and then he missed all of 2015 with injury. He’s been solid here in 2023 – posting a 1-2 record with a 3.60 ERA across 5 starts.
The Vegas total is 8 runs. The Dodgers are favored to make it 7 straight wins.
Kreighton loves sports, math, writing, and winning — he combines all of them as a writer for WagerBop. His favorite sports to review are MLB, NFL, NBA, NCAAF, and NCAABB.
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