Ben Steele explains why he's backing victories for the Red Sox and the Angels. Our man is also expecting big scores when the Phillies visit the Dodgers...
"Detroit have lacked home run power but have still been able to produce at a solid rate through a decent contact hitting style and aggressive base-running. The Angels' Ohtani should have enough to keep a lid on the Tigers as he looks to add to his already impressive CV."
At this point in the season injuries are starting to take their toll and squad depth is being tested. Whether it is a potential all-star having to be rested on occasional nights, or an up and coming talent starting to feel the strain of playing at the highest level, everybody needs to be managed. Tonight's games include some of the biggest names, and the biggest absentees, in the game.
The Boston Red Sox have already beaten Toronto six times this season, including back to back 8-3 victories over the last two days, and send Eduardo Rodriguez (5-1) to the mound tonight in search of a series sweep. Rodriguez has already beaten the Blue Jays once this season and will be backed up by a batting lineup full of star names, despite missing the big hitting Mookie Betts.
Boston's balanced attack is the highest scoring in the majors and Blue Jays pitcher Sam Gaviglio will have to be at his very best if he's going to have a chance. It is hard to look past a Boston side have the best record in baseball, I expect them to win and win well.
Shohei Ohtani has been the breakout star of season, even drawing comparisons to the great Babe Ruth and after an extended pitching break his story continues tonight. Ohtani, 23, is in his first season in America after a dominant four-year career in Japan and has blown the league away with both his pitching and his batting as he has carved out a niche as the league's only two-way player. Ohtani may not bat tonight, as the Angels like to reduce his workload in games where he pitches, but will be supported by Mike Trout and future Hall-of-Famer Albert Pujols.
Unlike the Angels, Detroit have lacked home run power but have still been able to produce at a solid rate through a decent contact hitting style and aggressive base-running. Ohtani should have enough to keep a lid on the Tigers as he looks to add to his already impressive CV.
Phillies @ Dodgers
Thursday 03:10 BST
Ohtani, Trout et al have been the talk of LA this year, but across town the defending National League Champion Dodgers have quietly started to rebuild after a slow start. Despite an injury hit pitching rotation Los Angeles have won are 9-3 across their last 12 games; a run that features an impressive series win in Washington against the Nationals.
Ross Stripling, who gets the start for LA tonight, has been key to any success this season from his role as a middle-reliever and injuries have now elevated him to a spot at the bottom of the starting rotation, his 1.74 ERA and 50 strikeouts are amongst the best on the team. He faces Zach Eflin who has bounced around the Phillies rotation and even dropped down to Triple-A for a brief spell earlier in the season.
Since being recalled, Eflin has twice had to be taken out of games early after having issues with control and does appear to have a habit of allowing opposing hitters to get on base regularly. The Dodgers should get the win but, with two inexperienced starters, it is too close to call. Both batting lineups should have plenty of opportunities to score.