The MLB season is slowly creeping towards the midway point and this week there are a few great games to keep your eyes on.
Ervin Santana and the Minnesota Twins take on the rival Kansas City Royals. Will Jason Vargas and the Royals add to Santana’s woes? On Saturday, I like the looks of another AL Central Division rivalry game when Cleveland heads to Detroit. Can Cleveland maintain first place in the tough AL Central by beating the Tigers? I like this Sunday’s nightcap between Washington and St. Louis. Who wins when the Nationals battle the Cards in Missouri?
Top Plays Of The Week June 26 – July 2
Minnesota at Kansas City
When: Friday, June 30 at 8:15 pm ET
Where: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Listed Pitchers: MIN-Ervin Santana vs KC-Jason Vargas
Analysis: Jason Vargas’s stats this season are astounding. Vargas is 11-3. His ERA is a ridiculous 2.29. His WHIP is a good 1.13. But, Vargas allows the Twins to bat .317 against him. He’s faced Twin batters 101 times. They have 32 hits. To be fair, 14 of the 32 hits are from Joe Mauer. Vargas has pretty much shut down the rest of Minnesota’s batters.
Ervin Santana’s got Cleveland’s number. In his last 13 innings pitched versus the Indians, Santana hasn’t allowed a single. Too bad he pitches against KC on Friday.
Then again, Santana has also locked down on Royal batters. KC is good for a .227 batting average versus Santana. This is a tough game to handicap, which is why I like it as a Top Play. The odds shouldn’t favor Vargas by much.
That’s the way I’m going. Vargas has been much more consistent than Santana in his last 10. KC has looked good as well.
Cleveland at Detroit
When: Saturday, July 1 at 7:10 pm ET
Where: Comerica Park, Detroit, MI
Listed Pitchers: CLE-Danny Salazar vs DET-Jordan Zimmerman
Analysis: Salazar and Zimmerman step to the plate in the second game of a double-header. Salazar goes into this game off the 10-day disabled list. He had a bullpen session last Thursday. He should pitch in a simulated game sometime this week before the Sunday start.
When Salazar was healthy, he wasn’t pitching all that well. His ERA is 5.40. His WHIP is 1.58. Detroit bats a decent .269 versus Salazar. He hasn’t faced the Tigers yet this season.
Detroit’s Jordan Zimmermann has allowed 8 earned runs off 12 hits in his last 10.2 innings pitched. His 5.53 ERA and 1.49 WHIP are on par with Salazar’s ERA and WHIP.
The difference in this game is bullpen. Detroit must keep Zimmermann on the mound until at least the end of the fourth. They’ve got no choice. But, Cleveland can pull Salazar after 1 or 2 innings.
The Tribe’s bullpen is that deep.
Washington at St. Louis
When: Sunday, July 2 at 8:10 pm ET
Where: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO
Listed Pitchers: WAS-Max Scherzer vs STL-Carlos Martinez
Analysis: Scherzer’s been on fire in his last 2 starts. On June 16, he pitched 8 innings, allowed 1 earned run, and gave up 4 hits. On June 21, Scherzer threw for 8 innings, didn’t allow a single earned run, and only allowed 2 hits. Scherzer pitches on June 27 against the Cubs.
If he comes out of that well, it’s hard to see St. Louis giving Carlos Martinez the necessary run support to beat Washington in this match up. Yes, the Nationals have one of the worst bullpens, if not the worst, in MLB.
But, Scherzer has been an absolute beast on the mound. The Cardinals only bat .235 against Scherzer. I believe Martinez does an excellent job. But, once the Cards pull Martinez after inning 6, Washington should get something going on offense.