Dear Yankees, Red Sox, Astros, and Cubs fans: Don’t panic yet, it’s still early! Those were four of the favorites to win the 2019 World Series but all have gotten off to slow starts for one reason or another. You can’t win a World Series in April … but then again, you can potentially dig too big of a hole to lose any chance to win your division. Here’s a look at two intriguing MLB matchups early this week. Check back for MLB odds.
Top MLB Betting Picks of the Week – April 8th Edition
Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox
- When: Tuesday, 2 PM ET (ESPN)
It’s the home opener for the defending World Series champion Red Sox. Thus, they will celebrate their title with a ring ceremony and hanging another banner. In addition, some members of the reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots will be on hand – might be the last time Boston sports fans see the retired Rob Gronkowski in a Patriots uniform.
The Pats certainly will be bringing the Lombardi Trophy with them. Quarterback Tom Brady and Gronkowski attended the home opener after the Pats’ last Super Bowl win in 2017, but Gronkowski’s recent retirement makes a repeat up in the air. One player who isn’t on the Red Sox and who might be there is last year’s closer, Craig Kimbrel. He still hasn’t signed with a team as a free agent, which is shocking.
The Sox have formally invited him, and it’s common practice for teams to invite players who departed in the offseason to their ring ceremonies. Most other players from last year’s Red Sox who left can’t go because they are playing on Tuesday with their current teams. The Red Sox seem content with a closer-by-committee approach in 2019 and didn’t make much of an effort to bring Kimbrel back.
Boston goes with ace Chris Sale, who is off to an untypical start at 0-2 with a 8.00 ERA. Sale fared disastrously in his season debut, yielding six hits and seven runs over three miserable innings as the Red Sox fell to Seattle. He was better last Tuesday vs. the A’s, allowing just one run and three hits over six innings despite diminished velocity.
Sale’s velocity was down on Opening Day, too, but it took another, bigger hit vs. Oakland as he was mostly in the high-80s with his fastball, though he did turn in a couple of 91s and a lone 92 later.
Toronto goes with Matt Shoemaker (2-0, 0.00), who has been amazing in his first two starts. Shoemaker allowed two hits and a walk while striking out eight across seven scoreless innings to earn the win Wednesday against the Orioles. He allowed only one runner to reach scoring position. The dominance was earned as he generated 18 swinging strikes on 92 pitches while also inducing seven groundball outs. Through two starts — spanning 14 innings — Shoemaker has not allowed a run and struck out 15 batters while walking just three. He has had relatively easy matchups against the Tigers and Orioles.
Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs
- When: Wednesday, 8:05 PM ET (MLB Extra Innings)
OK, maybe Cubs fans should be worried because their struggles aren’t related to any injury problems – although closer Brandon Morrow has yet to debut this season. The entire pitching staff has been terrible, but especially that bullpen. Morrow likely won’t be ready until May and the Cubbies might be buried in the NL Central by then with how well the defending division champion Milwaukee Brewers are playing.
Yu Darvish (0-1, 8.10) hasn’t helped the rotation as he continues to look like a $126 million bust. Darvish (0-1) allowed three earned runs on five hits and four walks across four innings to take the loss Thursday against the Braves. He struck out two.
Darvish looked OK through four innings, but the wheels came off for the righty and his bullpen mates in the fifth. He started the frame by allowing a double and a walk before getting the hook with the Cubs down 1-0.
Two Chicago relievers than combined to allow both inherited runners to score, along with three others. Darvish lasted longer than his first start of the season, in which he was pulled after 2.2 innings. The 32-year-old has walked 11 batters through 6.2 innings this season.
It’s scheduled to be Jordan Lyles (0-0, 0.00) for the Pirates. Lyles didn’t factor into the decision against the Reds on Thursday, scattering three hits over five innings, striking out two and walking three as the Pirates won 2-0. Lyles posted a solid line after getting activated from the injured list ahead of this start, but was removed after tossing 80 pitches with the contest still scoreless, costing him a chance at grabbing the win. He posted a 4.11 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP over 87.2 innings between the Brewers and the Padres last season.
Expert MLB Betting Picks
Back the Red Sox and Cubs.