MLB BASEBALL HOT AND COLD REPORT
Hottest team: Rays (8-2 last 10 games)
Although Tampa Bay fell in extra innings on Thursday to Baltimore as a -250 home favorite, the Rays are coming off their sixth consecutive series victory to sit atop the AL East at 14-5. Tampa Bay erased a 5-2 deficit to force extras, but Baltimore scored a run in the top of the 11th inning to win 6-5 and prevent the Rays from their first sweep at Tropicana Field this season.
The Rays welcome in the defending champion Red Sox this weekend as Boston has slumped to a 6-13 record out of the gate. Manager Kevin Cash is going back to the bullpen-by-committee approach on Friday with right-hander Ryne Stanek making his fifth start of the season. Stanek has yet to pitch more than two innings in any of his eight appearances, while not allowing a run in four starts. In Boston’s previous trip to Tampa Bay last August, the Rays pulled off a three-game sweep, while allowing only five runs.
Coldest team: Marlins (1-9 last 10 games)
For as well as the Rays are playing, their Sunshine State counterparts are playing as bad as anyone in baseball. Granted, the talent isn’t there, but Miami has plated two runs or less in each of its last eight losses, while getting shut out in back-to-back home defeats to the Cubs this week. The Marlins own an 0-6 record in series openers, while scoring three runs in their past four Game 1’s.
The Nationals travel to Miami this weekend as Washington grabbed 13 of 19 matchups last season. The last time the Marlins won a game, Caleb Smith started against the Phillies six days ago in a 10-3 blowout. The Miami southpaw yielded one hit in six innings as the Marlins improved to 7-3 in his past 10 starts since May 2018. Smith heads to the hill on Friday opposite former Marlins’ standout Anibal Sanchez, who is seeking his first win in four starts this season.
Hottest pitcher: German Marquez, Rockies (2-1, 2.00 ERA)
Colorado finally broke through the win column at Coors Field following an 0-5 start at home in Thursday’s 6-2 triumph over Philadelphia. The Rockies turn to their best pitcher of 2019 so far in Marquez, who tossed a complete-game one-hitter against the Giants his last time out in a 4-0 win. The good news for the right-hander is in three road starts he has given up one earned run, while Colorado owns a 3-0 record away from Coors. The bad news is Marquez was racked in his lone home start against the Braves by giving up five runs in five innings of a 7-1 loss. Last season when Marquez faced the Phillies at home, he shut them down by striking out 11 batters in seven scoreless innings of a 14-0 rout.
Coldest pitcher: Corey Kluber, Indians (1-2, 6.16 ERA)
Kluber is coming off three consecutive seasons of 18 or more victories, while capturing the 2017 AL Cy Young award. However, the Cleveland ace couldn’t hold onto an early 3-0 lead at Kansas City his last time out as he was racked for six runs in less than three innings of a 9-8 loss. Kluber has pitched well in two starts, but has also not pitched past the fourth inning in losses to the Royals and White Sox. The right-hander returns home to face the suddenly struggling Braves as Cleveland seeks its fourth consecutive win after sweeping Seattle on the road.
Biggest OVER run: Blue Jays (6-3 last nine)
Toronto continues its road trip as the Blue Jays are coming off their first series win of the season at Minnesota. The Jays’ offense busted out by scoring 5, 6, and 7 runs in the three victories at Target Field, while plating at least four runs in seven of the past nine games. Toronto ventures to Oakland to face an Athletics’ squad that was limited to three runs against the Astros in a two-game home series. Marcus Stroman is winless in four starts for Toronto, but he hasn’t been helped in the run support department as the Jays have scratched together only six runs in those four appearances.
Biggest UNDER run: Dodgers (6-0 last six)
Los Angeles allowed five or more runs 10 times in its first 15 games. The Dodgers’ staff has locked down of late by giving up a total of eight runs in the past five contests, all victories. L.A. held off Milwaukee on Thursday, 3-1 as the Brewers’ lone run came on a Christian Yelich solo homer in the ninth inning. The Dodgers had cashed three straight OVER tickets prior to this 6-0 run to the UNDER as Ross Stripling takes the mound on Friday at Miller Park. Stripling dominated the Brewers at Chavez Ravine last weekend by giving up four hits and one run in eight innings of a 7-1 victory to mark his second consecutive UNDER.
Matchup to watch: Astros at Rangers
Both Lone Star State squads have looked good to begin this season as they hook up for their second series this month. The Rangers captured two of three in Arlington in early April, as Texas limited Houston to only six runs in the entire series.
However, Houston has been on fire since dropping that series by winning 10 of its last 11 games. The Astros ran off 10 consecutive victories at one point, including sweeps of the Athletics, Yankees, and Mariners. Houston saw its hot streak end in Wednesday’s 2-1 setback at Oakland, but the Astros own a perfect 6-0 record in series openers this season.
Justin Verlander (2-0, 3.52 ERA) has tossed quality starts in three of four outings this season, while coming off a gem at Seattle in which he struck out 11 batters in six innings. However, the lone non-quality appearance for Verlander came at Texas on April 2 as the former Cy Young winner was knocked around for four runs in four innings of a 6-4 defeat as a hefty -220 road favorite.
Drew Smyly (0-1, 7.15 ERA) counters for the Rangers, who are fresh off a three-game home sweep of the slumping Angels. Smyly is winless in three starts, while yielding four earned runs in each of his past two outings. In his first start of the season against the Astros, the southpaw scattered four hits and allowed one run in three innings of a 2-1 setback in the series opener.
Betcha didn’t know: Since the start of last season, the Giants have compiled a 3-10 road record when Madison Bumgarner takes the mound. San Francisco has lost each of Bumgarner’s past five starts away from Oracle Park, including defeats to Los Angeles and San Diego earlier this month. The Giants continue their road trip in Pittsburgh, as the Pirates have won four consecutive games at PNC Park.