After a trio of winners last week, Ben Steele returns with his best bets for the penultimate MLB tipsheet of the regular season...
"If the Dodgers can get ahead early they often accelerate away from the opposition. Six Dodgers have hit 20 or more home runs this season, which will worry Rockies starter Tyler Anderson."
Matchup struggles point to high scoring game
Mets @ Phillies
Wednesday, 23:05 BST
Noah Syndergaard boasts a 12-3 record this season and at his best is capable of overpowering any batting lineup in the Majors, but this season he has been a frustrated figure when the Phillies appear on the schedule. The Texan has faced Philadelphia three times this season and has had to be replaced early in every one of these games as Phillies' hitters have been able to pick up hits at an impressive rate.
The Phillies still have faint playoff hopes but will need to score heavily to allow their pitcher, Zach Eflin, some breathing room tonight. Eflin (10-7), has been a useful member of the Philadelphia rotation this season but has also had trouble in this matchup. Ten days ago, the 24-year-old pitched just three innings as the Mets jumped on him early, scoring six runs and blowing the game open before running out 10-5 winners, a game where Syndergaard also played.
Both starters have run in to trouble in this matchup this season and I expect a few runs to be scored. Syndergaard is the superior pitcher so if you're looking for a winner, New York could well end Philadelphia's playoff hunt.
Cubs' bats to edge low scoring affair
Cubs @ Diamondbacks
Thursday, 02:40 BST
Both Cole Hamels and Robbie Ray have been impressive this season with Ray in particular closing the season with a series of strong performances. Across their last five starts, the pair have allowed just 14 runs between them so runs will almost certainly be at a premium tonight, and the Cubs superior stable of hitters probably gives them the edge.
While Javy Baez has spent the season putting himself in the conversation for MVP voting, the likes of Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist have been chipping in regularly with solid hitting performances. Manager Joe Maddon also has the luxury of being able to turn to former MVP Kris Bryant, now back from injury, to add further muscle to an already stacked lineup.
The Cubs lead the National League in batting average, which points to their ability to put together quality plate appearances, a skill that will likely give them the edge as they search for a win that would make it very difficult for the Milwaukee Brewers to catch them.
Expect a low scoring game, with Bryant or Baez to make the difference for Chicago.
Front running Dodgers look for commanding NL West lead
Rockies @ Dodgers
Thursday 03:10 BST
The National League West is the closest division in baseball and the two title chasers face off tonight with Colorado hoping to avoid a sweep. Last night, Chris Taylor hit a home run in extra innings to extend LA's lead to 1.5 games over the Rockies and another win tonight will put LA well and truly in the driving seat.
In truth, LA should probably be out of sight and close to clinching the division at this point. They are the highest scoring side in the National League and only the American League's Houston Astros have conceded fewer runs this season, potentially implying in inability to consistently win close games.
However, if the Dodgers can get ahead early they often accelerate away from the opposition. Six Dodgers have hit 20 or more home runs this season, which will worry Rockies starter Tyler Anderson, who has struggled with his control for large periods of the 2018 season. Look for the Dodgers to score heavily and pick up the win as they aim to lock up a playoff spot.
Back over 7.5 runs in New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies at 20/21
Back New York Mets to win and over 7.5 runs at 12/5
Back Chicago Cubs to beat Arizona Diamondbacks at Evens
Back Under 8 runs in Cubs v Diamondbacks at 10/11
Back Los Angeles Dodgers -1.5 v Colorado Rockies at 21/20