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MLB Today: Cy Young Candidates, Please Stand Up

Tremendous Slate of Weekend Series on Tap

Seven of the 15 games being played on Friday feature a pair of teams with winning records and there is plenty of action for those who are making MLB predictions to sink their teeth into.

Only eight teams were in action on Thursday with the team listed by the MLB picks as the favorite winning four of the five matchups – and that includes the Los Angeles Angels sweeping a doubleheader from the Detroit Tigers.

MLB Today: Cy Young Candidates, Please Stand Up
Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFP

When looking at MLB news, 2022 American League Most Valuable Player Aaron Judge could be in the lineup for the New York Yankees for the first time since June 3. However, Jonah Heim of the Texas Rangers, Juan Soto of the San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay’s Yandy Diaz are among the prominent players dealing with injuries heading into the weekend..

According to MLB playoff odds, the Atlanta Braves (+340) have the best odds to win the World Series, followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers at +500. The slumping Tampa Bay come in at +600 while the defending World Series champion Houston Astros are priced at +750.

Aces Ready to Pitch In

For those who bet online and are keeping tabs on the potential American League Cy Young Award winner, they should be in their glory on Friday with three of the top candidates according to the MLB betting lines set to pitch.

Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees has recently moved into the role of Cy Young favorite. He has been pitching like a Cy Young winner with seven hits and three runs allowed and 21 strikeouts in 12⅓ innings in his last two starts. Since allowing five earned runs in back-to-back starts in late May, Cole has allowed two runs or less in seven of his last nine appearances (not including his perfect inning in the MLB All-Star Game).

Cole starts things off when the Yankees begin a weekend series with the American League East-leading Baltimore Orioles.

Shane McClanahan of the Tampa Bay Rays, who is third in the American League among qualified pitchers with an ERA of 2.89, has struggled since coming off the injured list with a 6.30 ERA in his last two starts. McClanahan was 8-0 with a 1.97 ERA after pitching the Rays to a 7-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on May 24. He will be trying to rediscover that form when Tampa Bay faces the Houston Astros and Cristian Javier, who is a little further back in the Cy Young Award pecking order.

Kevin Gausman of the Toronto Blue Jays is the American League leader with 162 strikeouts. After three games with at least 10 strikeouts in June, Gausman has struck out seven, seven and nine batters in his three starts in July. He will be part of an intriguing starting pitching matchup as the Los Angeles Angels will start Lucas Giolito, who was recently acquired from the Chicago White Sox.

Sonny Gray of the Minnesota Twins and Logan Gilbert of the Seattle Mariners are showing up in the Cy Young odds as well. Perhaps they can make a move when Gray and the Twins face the Kansas City Royals while Gilbert’s Mariners head to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks.

Get Ready for the Weekend

It is hard to find fault with the weekend schedule in the majors as three of the weekend series feature a pair of teams currently in playoff position.

The National League Central Division-leading Milwaukee Brewers head to face Atlanta, the team with the best record in the majors, as the Braves look to build on their 10-game lead in the National League East.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros, who hold down two of three wild card spots in the American League, are ready to get together as both teams are still eyeing division titles. Tampa Bay is just 1½ games out of first place in the AL East while Houston is two games behind Texas in the AL West. Texas and Houston just concluded a series with plenty of fireworks taking place in the series finale.

The Cincinnati Reds will face the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers as the Reds try to hold off multiple contenders in the tightly bunched National League playoff race.

The series between the New York Yankees and AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Angels and Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants are also worthy of the attention of those who bet online.

Putting on a Sho

The remarkable season being put together by Shohei Ohtani keeps getting better.

In Thursday’s doubleheader sweep, he retired the first 12 batters in the first game before allowing a single to Matt Carpenter. The only other runners came courtesy of three walks as Ohtani had his first complete game of the season.

Ohtani hit a pair of home runs in the second game to give him 38 this season, six more than any other player and 10 more than the closest competitor in the American League. It is no wonder that the Las Vegas odds have Ohtani listed as the clear front-runner in the AL Most Valuable Player odds.

Ohtani was pulled from the second game of the doubleheader sweep with a back issue. He is expected to be in the lineup when the Angels face the Toronto Blue Jays.

Back to .500

The Chicago Cubs have the longest active winning streak in the majors as Thursday’s 10-3 win over the rival St. Louis Cardinals was their sixth in a row. The win moves Chicago back to .500 and just 5½ games out of first place in the NL Central Division.

The Cubs have scored at least seven runs in each of the last five games and have scored 10 runs in the last two contests. They are hitting .311 during the streak with Dansby Swanson (.444 average, two home runs, seven RBIs), two home runs, seven RBIs), Nico Hoerner (.435 average, .519 on-base percentage), Christopher Morel (.400 batting average) and Cody Bellinger (.385 average, three home runs, 11 RBIs) leading the way.

Friday’s Best Bets

Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto is hitting .625 in eight career at-bats against Pittsburgh’s probable starter Mitch Keller. Four of his five hits went for extra bases so that makes his +500 odds to hit a home run look pretty tempting.

Logan Gilbert of the Seattle Mariners is 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA in four July starts. With that in mind, it might be worth taking a look at the +210 odds for Gilbert to have at least six strikeouts in a win by the Mariners against Arizona.

Washington starting pitcher MacKenzie Gore has been alternating hot and cold starts over the last eight games, allowing 22 runs and seven home runs in four of those outings compared to one run and no home runs allowed in the other four. Coming off a game when he threw five scoreless innings, that trend might be enough to go with Pete Alonso at +300 or Francisco Alvarez at +350 to hit a home run for the Mets in Friday’s matchup.

Red Sox rookie first baseman Triston Casas is hitting .563 with three home runs in his last five games, so that makes the +700 moneyline for him to hit another home run worth considering, especially since San Francisco starter Logan Webb has allowed three home runs in his last two starts.

Injury Update

Here is a look at injuries that could impact Friday’s games.

The New York Yankees are expected to activate Aaron Judge off the injured list and he could be in the lineup for Friday’s season opener against the Baltimore Orioles.

Baltimore rookie third baseman Gunnar Henderson is questionable with a back issue. The Orioles are already without outfielders Aaron Hicks and Cedric Mullins.

Tampa Bay third baseman Yandy Diaz is questionable with a groin injury that forced him to miss the last game.

The Texas Rangers are already without shortstop Corey Seager and now there are questions surrounding the availability of Jonah Heim as a result of wrist soreness.

San Diego outfielder Juan Soto has appeared in every game this season. That streak could be at risk due to a finger injury.

Minnesota first baseman Joey Gallo and outfielder Alex Kirilloff are questionable to play against the Kansas City Royals on Friday. However, shortstop Jorge Polanco could return to the lineup after being sidelined for more than seven weeks with a strained hamstring.

St. Louis catcher Willson Contreras is questionable for Friday’s game against the Chicago Cubs. The story is the same for Colorado first baseman C.J. Cron heading into a matchup with Oakland.

Miami outfielder Jesus Sanchez left the last game with a neck issue and it is uncertain if he will be in the lineup when the Marlins face Detroit on Friday.

A knee injury might sideline Seattle shortstop J.P. Crawford for Friday’s matchup with Arizona.

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