Skip to content

MLB Today: NL Central Showdown

Ohtani Among Probable Pitchers for Friday’s Action

Play is set to resume after the MLB All-Star break with all 30 teams slated to be in action on Friday with the MLB predictions listing the home team as the favorite in less than half the 15 games.

Five of the six divisions have the first- and second-place teams separated by no more than two games. In the National League West Division, the Los Angeles Dodgers are just percentage points ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Cleveland leads Minnesota by a half-game in the American League Central. Cincinnati is up by a game on Milwaukee in the NL Central while the Tampa Bay Rays (AL East) and Texas Rangers (AL West) have two-game leads.

MLB Today: NL Central Showdown
Graham Ashcraft #51 of the Cincinnati Reds | Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

When looking at the MLB picks, three of the six division leaders were favored to finish on top in the division standings heading into the season.

When looking at the MLB news, Shohei Ohtani, listed as the favorite in the American League Most Valuable Player odds, is set to pitch on Friday. Former Cy Young Award winners Sandy Alcantara of the Miami Marlins, Justin Verlander of the New York Mets and Corbin Burnes of the Milwaukee Brewers are expected to pitch on Friday.

According to MLB playoff odds, the Atlanta Braves (+350) have the best odds to win the World Series, followed by the Tampa Bay Rays at +600. The Dodgers come in at +650, with the defending World Series champion Houston Astros priced at +850.

Come on Back

This is a perfect time to look at the timeframe of some injured players who could factor into the pennant races.

Reigning American League Most Valuable Player Aaron Judge has never looked more valuable to the New York Yankees since he went on the injured list after hurting his toe while making a catch in the outfield. The hope is that he returns at some point in August.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are waiting to get former Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw back after he went on the injured list in late June with a shoulder issue. The Dodgers already lost Dustin May for the season while Noah Syndergaard is also on the injured list and Walker Buehler remains sidelined.

Tampa Bay could get starting pitchers Shane McClanahan and Tyler Glasnow back for this weekend’s series. McClanahan is listed by the MLB betting lines as the front-runner in the American League Cy Young race.

Cincinnati’s playoff chances will be aided when pitcher Hunter Greene returns. He hasn’t pitched since June 17. There are reports that he might not return until August.

The Chicago White Sox are just eight games out of first place in the AL Central despite a 38-54 record. Not knowing the status of All-Star outfielder Luis Robert Jr. won’t help the White Sox make a move. Infielder Yoan Moncada could begin a rehab assignment in the minors soon.

The Angels will continue to be without former MVP Mike Trout until September. He came into the season as one of the front-runners according to the sportsbook in the MVP odds.

The Houston Astros could have second baseman Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez back later this month as both are sidelined with oblique injuries. It could be a longer wait for Atlanta to have pitchers Max Fried and Kyle Wright available.

The Cubs lost shortstop Danby Swanson with a heel injury and it is not known when he will return to action.

Milwaukee pitcher Brandon Woodruff has been moved to the 60-day injured list with a strained shoulder and he isn’t expected back until next month.

Miami outfielder Jazz Chisholm is on the injured list for the second time this season. He should be able to return at some point in July as he is dealing with an oblique strain. Miami is also looking to get rookie reliever Andrew Nardi back at some point this month.

Pittsburgh has outfielder Andrew McCutchen as well as infielders Oneil Cruz, Ji Hwan Bae and Ke’Bryan Hayes on the injured list. Cruz is expected to be out until August. The Pirates hope to have Bae, Hayes and McCutchen back this month.

Pennant Races Heating Up

When play resumes on Friday, there will be four weekend series featuring teams currently holding down playoff spots.

Leading the way is the three-game set when the top two teams in the National League Central Division square off.

Milwaukee, just a game out of first place, is set to throw 2021 National League Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes in Friday’s series opener as the Brewers head to Cincinnati to face the division-leading Reds.

Cincinnati will throw rookie Andrew Abbott in the second game of the series. Two of his seven starts this season have come against Milwaukee with very different results.

Abbott allowed one hit and no runs with six strikeouts in six runs in a 2-0 win over the Brewers in the MLB debut on June 5. It was a different story in a July 7 game. Milwaukee rookie Joey Wiemer hit a two-run home run and veteran shortstop Willy Adames had a two-run shot of his own and an RBI double as Abbott failed to get through five innings before allowing nine hits and six runs.

Baltimore will be the site as the teams holding down the top wild-card spots in the National League and American League will be squaring off. Miami, which is 8½ games in back of Atlanta in the National League East despite having the second-best winning percentage in the NL, looks to slow down a Baltimore Orioles team that has won five games in a row.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, which fell out of first place in the NL West shortly before the start of the All-Star break, travels to meet a Toronto Blue Jays team that recently went past the New York Yankees in the AL East standings.

The Cleveland Guardians are leading the American League Central Division despite a 45-45 record and they hit the road to meet up with the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.

Welcome to the Show

The Oakland Athletics went into the break with the worst record in the major. After 92 games, they are on pace to win just 44 games.

Already featuring a roster with seven players 25 or younger, the A’s are going to start preparing for the future with the call-ups of catcher/first baseman Tyler Soderstrom and second baseman Zack Gelof.

Soderstrom, a first-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, hit .254 with 20 home runs and 59 RBIs with Triple-A Las Vegas. He had 29 home runs and 105 RBIs playing at three different levels during the 2022 season and is considered to be the top prospect in the Oakland system.

Gelof, a second-round selection in 2021, is batting .304 with 21 doubles, 12 home runs, 44 RBIs, 60 runs scored, 20 stolen bases and 41 walks in 69 games with Las Vegas. They are expected to be in the lineup when Oakland begins a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins on Friday.

Friday’s Best Bets

Seattle’s Teoscar Hernandez has a .421 average with three of his eight hits being home runs when facing Detroit starter Eduardo Rodriguez. The live-betting odds for Hernandez to hit a home run on Friday will likely be pretty tempting.

Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers is 0-for-16 in his career against Justin Verlander of the New York Mets so go with -125 odds for Betts to finish under 1.5 total bases.

Corbin Burnes has limited the Cincinnati Reds to a .131 batting average and one extra-base in his career. Over the last two seasons, he has allowed five runs and struck out 23 while pitching into the seventh inning in each of his three starts. It makes sense to ride with Burnes with -125 odds to have more over 6½ strikeouts and lead Milwaukee to victory.

Injury Update

Here’s a look at the injuries that could impact Friday’s action.

San Diego is expected to have shortstop Xander Bogaerts in the lineup against the Phillies despite a wrist injury.

For the Phillies, designated hitter Bryce Harper is questionable with an elbow injury.

The Chicago White Sox might be without Robert Jr. and fellow outfielder Andrew Benintendi as the weekend series with Atlanta gets underway.

San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford is questionable with some hamstring tightness. A lower-body injury has the status of third baseman Josh Donaldson up in the air for the New York Yankees.

When the New York Mets open a series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, it is uncertain whether outfielder Tommy Pham will be in the lineup as a result of a groin injury.

Tyler Glasnow is expected to make his start when the Tampa Bay Rays face Kansas City on Friday despite leaving his last start with a hand issue.

Outfielder Jo Adell (oblique tightness), outfielder Taylor Ward (groin) and third baseman Anthoyn Rendon (shin) are questionable for the Angels’ series opener against Houston.

Did you find this article interesting?

Comments (0)