Hottest team: Red Sox (9-0 last nine)
After getting blown out by the Yankees, 11-1 to begin July, the Red Sox have not lost. Boston has pulled off three consecutive sweeps over Washington, Kansas City, and Texas. Although the Royals and Rangers are both last-place squads, the Red Sox won all six of those games by at least two runs to cash on the run-line. In Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over Texas, Chris Sale closed as a nearly -400 favorite at several sports books, while Boston was listed as a -180 favorite or higher in each of the past six games.
The Red Sox are a heavy favorite once again on Thursday as the Blue Jays invade Fenway Park. David Price has been anything but sharp recently for Boston as the southpaw has allowed 15 hits, 12 earned runs, and six home runs in his last two starts. However, both those starts came on the road as the Red Sox are 4-0 in Price’s last four outings at Fenway Park, which includes an 8-3 win over Toronto in late May.
Coldest team: Nationals (3-12 last 15 on road)
Washington captured three of four games from Miami last weekend, which makes this cold streak a bit tricky. The Nationals have struggled away from D.C. of late by going winless in six consecutive road series. Since mid-June, the Nationals have won only two away games in 12 tries, including series losses at Tampa Bay, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
Max Scherzer takes the mound tonight as Washington travels to New York to face the Mets. Scherzer won the first time in six starts as the Nationals pounded the Marlins last Saturday, 18-4 as the Cy Young winner gave up four earned runs in seven innings. Scherzer has not started against the Mets this season, but won in all three of his outings at Citi Field in 2017.
Hottest pitcher: Blake Snell, Rays (12-4, 2.09 ERA)
Tampa Bay has won five straight games to guarantee at least a .500 record at the All-Star break. The Rays pulled off a home sweep of the Tigers to improve to 14-1 in the past 15 contests at Tropicana Field. Now, Snell will look to keep his breakout season going in Thursday’s opener at Minnesota. The Rays’ southpaw has won four consecutive starts, while yielding a total of two runs in 28.2 innings of work and striking out 35 batters. Snell shut down the Twins at home earlier this season in a 10-1 rout as he tossed seven innings and allowed five hits.
Coldest pitcher: Nick Pivetta, Phillies (5-7, 4.62 ERA)
Back on May 16, Pivetta dominated the Orioles by scattering two hits in seven innings and striking out 11 in a 4-1 victory. Pivetta faces Baltimore again tonight in a make-up game at Camden Yards, but Philadelphia is 2-6 in the right-hander’s past eight starts dating back to late May. Pivetta was lit up by Washington on June 29 by allowing seven earned runs in less than two innings of work, then didn’t last past the third inning in a 17-5 victory over the Pirates last Friday. The Phillies seek the four-game season sweep of the Orioles after allowing four runs to Baltimore in the first three wins.
Biggest OVER run: Twins (4-1 last five)
Minnesota’s offense broke out after a slow start in Wednesday’s 8-5 victory over Kansas City to take two of three in the series. The Twins have taken advantage of a pair of last-place teams in the Royals and Orioles on this homestand by scoring five runs or more in five of seven games (6-1). Kyle Gibson has seen the OVER cash in his past two starts for Minnesota, while giving up 11 earned runs in his last three trips to the mound. Gibson looks for a better outing against Tampa Bay after getting knocked around for four runs in 6.1 innings of a 10-1 setback on April 21.
Biggest UNDER run: Pirates (5-0 last five)
Pittsburgh has bounced back from a five-game skid by winning three of the last four games. The Pirates avenged a four-game sweep by the Nationals earlier this season to capture two of three from Washington at PNC Park this week. Although the Pirates scored only three runs in the last two games, Pittsburgh allowed three runs in the two victories. Jameson Taillon takes the mound to begin a four-game home set with Milwaukee tonight, as the righty is winless in his past four starts at PNC Park. In two starts against the Brewers this season, Taillon has seen the UNDER cash each time, while giving up four runs in 10 innings of work.
Matchup to watch: Yankees vs. Indians
Cleveland busted out to a 2-0 series lead over New York in last season’s ALDS before the Yankees rallied for three consecutive wins to knock the Indians out of the playoffs. The Yankees continued their recent dominance of the Tribe in early May by pulling off a three-game sweep of Cleveland in the Bronx. New York continues its 11-game road trip after splitting a four-game set at Baltimore, but dropped series openers to the Blue Jays and Orioles.
The Indians bounced back after blowing a 4-0 lead in Tuesday’s 7-4 loss to the Reds by pounding Cincinnati last night, 19-4 to avoid a sweep. Corey Kluber didn’t allow a run in his last start against Oakland, but the Indians fell to the A’s, 6-3 as hefty -245 home favorites last Saturday. The Indians have won seven of the Cy Young winner’s 10 home starts this season, while Kluber tries to rebound from two horrific starts against the Yankees in last October’s ALDS (9 ER in 6.1 IP).
The Yankees counter with their ace in Luis Severino as the Bronx Bombers have posted an incredible 15-1 record in his last 16 starts. Severino is unbeaten at home this season, as both his losses came on the road against the Mets and Red Sox. The Yankees won two of Severino’s three starts against the Indians in 2017, including a 7-3 home victory in the ALDS.
Betcha didn’t know: The Dodgers have been up and down on their current road swing against the Angels and Padres. However, Los Angeles improved to 16-6 in its last 22 games away from Dodger Stadium with Wednesday’s 4-2 victory at San Diego. The Dodgers are 8-2 in Ross Stripling’s last 10 starts overall with both losses coming to the Cubs in this stretch. Stripling has performed well in two starts against the Padres this season by allowing one run in 10.2 innings of work, while striking out 15 batters.
Biggest public favorite: Nationals (-200) at Mets
Biggest public underdog: Blue Jays (+155) at Red Sox
Biggest line move: Orioles (+105 to -105) vs. Phillies