Hottest team: Astros (16-3 last 19)
Houston put together its most complete homestand of the season by going 5-0 against Seattle and Colorado, while scoring at least nine runs in four of those victories. The Astros finished off a four-game season sweep of the Rockies by beating Colorado, 11-6 and 14-3 this week to improve to 15-2 in their last 17 games at Minute Maid Park. Houston owns a commanding 10-game advantage over Oakland in the American League West race, while the Astros are one of three teams that have posted at least 75 wins this season (Dodgers and Yankees the others).
The Astros will be heavy favorites this weekend against the dreadful Orioles at Camden Yards as Wade Miley takes the mound in the series opener. Miley is the top southpaw in the loaded Houston rotation as the Astros have won six of his last seven starts, including four straight road victories. The last time Miley faced the O’s back in early June, the veteran tossed six scoreless innings in a 4-0 shutout as a -190 home favorite.
Coldest team: Pirates (2-15 last 17)
Pittsburgh has completely free-fallen since the All-Star break by winning only three games, while dropping 11 of 13 contests at PNC Park. The Pirates were swept by the Brewers at home this week, as Pittsburgh’s pitching staff yielded at least seven runs in four of five losses to Milwaukee and New York. The Bucs last allowed less than four runs in a game back on July 27 in a 3-0 setback to the Mets, while their last victory when giving up fewer than four runs came in a 5-1 win over Philadelphia on July 20.
The Pirates head to St. Louis to face the Cardinals, who have lost five consecutive games as well. Chris Archer is winless in his previous five trips to the mound, which includes a pair of one-run defeats to the Cardinals after the All-Star break. Archer last won a decision back on June 6 against Atlanta, while the most recent road win by Pittsburgh with the right-hander on the hill came on June 28 at Milwaukee.
Hottest pitcher: Shane Bieber, Indians (11-4, 3.31 ERA)
The Cleveland rotation has been decimated due to injuries this season, but Bieber has turned into the ace by picking up his 11th victory in last Sunday’s 6-2 triumph over the Angels. Bieber put together his second complete game of the season, while striking out eight batters and giving up two runs or fewer for the third straight appearance. Since joining the Indians’ rotation last season, Bieber has turned in an impressive 22-9 record, while the Indians are 2-0 in his two starts against the Twins this season as Cleveland and Minnesota continue their series at Target Field.
Coldest pitcher: Tyler Beede, Giants (3-6, 5.38 ERA)
San Francisco profited nicely with Beede on the mound from June 11 through July 19 as the Giants posted a 6-1 record with every win coming in the underdog role. However, Beede has taken a step back of late with the Giants losing his last three appearances, as the former Vanderbilt standout has given up 28 hits and 13 runs in 14.1 innings of work. The run support hasn’t been there for Beede either during this recent stretch as San Francisco has scored a total of six runs in his past four starts. Beede starts against the Phillies on Friday, looking to atone for a 4-2 defeat at Citizens Bank Park last month.
Biggest OVER run: Orioles (9-1-2 last 12)
Baltimore’s pitching has been awful of late, but that mostly had to do with facing the Yankees, who lit up the Orioles all season. The Yankees scored 9, 9, and 14 runs in a three-game sweep at Camden Yards, easily eclipsing the OVER in all three contests. In fact, the O’s have allowed at least five runs in 10 of the past 11 games, while Baltimore has scored four runs or fewer in four of seven games on its current homestand. Dylan Bundy has seen the UNDER hit in each of his past two starts for Baltimore, while the O’s have plated at least four runs in each of his past six outings.
Biggest UNDER run: Cardinals (8-1 last nine)
St. Louis put together an impressive 12-2 record after the All-Star break, but the Cardinals’ offense has dried up during their current 2-8 run. The Redbirds posted a total of seven runs on their five-game road trip against the Athletics and Dodgers, while scoring just two runs in a three-game sweep at the hands of Los Angeles. During this 10-game cold stretch, the Cardinals have been limited to two runs or fewer eight times, as St. Louis has fallen 3 ½ games behind Chicago in the National League Central race. Dakota Hudson has seen the UNDER cash in five consecutive home starts as he faces the struggling Pirates at Busch Stadium.
Matchup to watch: Nationals vs. Mets
On May 23, New York pulled off a four-game home sweep of Washington to send the Nationals to a 19-31 record. Washington has rebounded to post a 42-22 record and spring back into the NL Wild Card race, while New York has put together an unthinkable 13-1 run to sit one half-game out of the second Wild Card spot in the National League.
The Mets have swept three of their last four opponents, including a four-game sweep of the Marlins at Citi Field this week. New York has allowed two runs or less in four of the past five victories as the Mets turn to recently acquired Marcus Stroman (6-11, 3.07 ERA) in the series opener. Stroman didn’t finish five innings of work in his New York debut, while allowing three earned runs, but the Mets outlasted the Pirates, 7-5 last Saturday.
Stephen Strasburg (14-5, 3.72 ERA) is coming off his worst start of the season by giving up nine earned runs in 4.2 innings of an 18-7 setback at Arizona in his last outing. The Nationals had won Strasburg’s previous seven starts, while the offense put up double-digit runs in the three starts prior to the disaster in the desert last Saturday. The Nationals are 1-2 in Strasburg’s three outings against the Mets this season, including a 6-4 defeat at Citi Field as a hefty -180 favorite back on May 23.
Betcha didn’t know: Mariners’ left-hander Marco Gonzales was knocked around for 10 runs in a 13-3 home defeat to the Angels on June 3. Since that horrible outing, the southpaw has yielded a total of seven runs in his past four appearances at T-Mobile Park, while Seattle is 4-0 in that stretch. Gonzales gets the ball against Tampa Bay as the Rays have won five of their last six road contests.