Rivalry week is here on the baseball diamond, and BetRivers.com is here to provide our MLB weekend picks for an exciting three days of pro baseball. It is very easy with BetRivers to place your sport bets in real time after reading live odds. Longtime Poker broadcaster and sports bettor David Tuchman is here to preview the notable games and make his MLB Weekend picks for May 21 to May 23.
Last week was a short week, as we went 2-1, bringing us to 16-12 on the year. We’ve got 4 games for you this week, and we’re angling to hit 20 wins. It is RIVALRY week in the MLB – mostly. These games will pit certain geographic or divisional rivals against each other, which usually makes for some fun games, and some fun MLB weekend picks. Maybe not as fun as Game of Thrones rivalry week, but not bad for a random weekend in May. Actually, with as many beanballs as baseball has had lately, maybe Game of Thrones isn’t too bad an analogy.
So, I’m going to be bold and pull a Joe Namath here. Expect to go 4-0 this weekend with these 4 games. You heard me.
Let’s get to our MLB weekend picks for Friday, May 21 to Sunday, May 23.
MLB WEEKEND PICKS: FRIDAY, MAY 21
BALTIMORE ORIOLES (17-26) at WASHINGTON NATIONALS (17-23), 7:05 p.m. ET
PITCHERS: Stephen Strasburg (0-1, WAS) vs. Jorge Lopez (1-4, BAL)
MONEYLINE: Nationals -200, Orioles +170
SPREAD: Nationals -1.5 (+106), Orioles +1.5 (-136)
OVER/UNDER: 8.5 runs (-112/-107)
Click here for the full list of Nationals-Orioles odds.
It’s the battle by the Anacostia River! But I digress. Ideally, the Nationals will have co-ace Stephen Strasburg back on the mound Friday night. If he can’t go, it will be Erick Fedde (3-4, 4.35 ERA) in his place. Fedde isn’t terrible and I like the Nationals whomever pitches.
The Nats are 16-22 overall, which isn’t good. Trea Turner is their leading hitter at .325-10-22-7 SB and a .938 OPS; Ryan Zimmerman is hitting .292; Juan Soto is hitting only .271-3-14. The Nats need him to get going as they are just 3-7 over their last 10.
Baltimore is just as bad, at 17-24, 2-8 over their last 10; They can hit a bit though as Cedric Mullins is leading the team at .313-6-12 and Trey Mancini has a whopping 33 RBI.
Neither team has been playing well, but I think the Nats get a lift with the return of Stephen Strasburg to the rotation. He likely will be on a pitch count for his first start back, so I would expect only 4-5 IP. But the Orioles will counter with Jorge Lopez, and he’s been atrocious, with a 6.35 ERA (1-4 on the year). What’s more amazing is that his HR/FB% is 26.7%. That means that almost 27% of every fly ball he’s allowed has gone for a home run. That’s not good. I think the Nats bust out the heavy lumber, and blast 3-4 HR in this one and coast to a laugher on Friday night. Take the Nats and that 26.7% Homer rate.
The Pick: Washington Nationals -200 ML
TAMPA BAY RAYS (26-19) at TORONTO BLUE JAYS (23-19), 7:37 p.m. ET
PITCHERS: Tyler Glasnow (4-2,TB) vs. Anthony Kay (0-2, TOR)
MONEYLINE: Rays -159 ML, Blue Jays +135 ML
SPREAD: Rays -1.5 (-104), Blue Jays +1.5 (-120)
OVER/UNDER: 9 runs (-107/-112)
Click here for the full list of Blue Jays-Rays odds.
A great divisional battle and thanks to COVID-19, the Blue Jays are actually playing in Florida! This should be fun for a Friday night – two top teams in the AL East square off. The Rays are 24-19, winning 6 of their last 10, only one game out of first place. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are 23-17, a half-game out of first, having won 7 of their last 10. These two powerhouses square off for a tough weekend series.
The Blue Jays can mash the baseball. Vlad Guerrero Jr. is hitting .329-11-30; Teoscar Hernandez (RF) is hitting .305-5-19; Randal Grichuk (CF) is hitting .277-7-32; Bo Bichette is hitting .274-9-26 and Marcus Semien (2B) is hitting .273-9-24. That’s 131 RBI from their top 5 hitters over just 184 games.
The pitcher slated to start, Anthony Kay, however, has not been good, with a 7.24 ERA and 1.54 WHIP over just 13 IP this season. He’s a youngster, and the Jays are trying to get him to work through his issues. In his last start, he pitched four scoreless innings, so they’re hoping he’s turned a corner.
The Rays are not as thumper heavy as the Jays. Mike Zunino and Austin Meadows have combined for 19 HR and 45 RBI, but they’re each hitting just .218 on the year. Joey Wendle has been their most consistent hitter, at .292-03-18, while Randy Arozarena has been disappointing, hitting just .257-4-16. But their best pitcher, Tyler Glasnow, is on the mound Friday night and he’s been dominating this year, with 85K in just 57 IP with a 0.87 WHIP. Lefties are hitting just .138 against him, while righties are…uh…slightly better at .160. In the first inning this year, Glasnow’s ERA is 7. So, if you get to him in the first, you can beat him. Outside of the 1st, his ERA is 1.50. I think he gets through the first and leads the Rays to a win in Game 1 of this three-game set.
The Pick: Tampa Bay Rays -159 ML
SATURDAY, MAY 22
MINNESOTA TWINS (15-28) at CLEVELAND INDIANS (23-18), 4:10 p.m.
PITCHERS: Shane Bieber (4-3, CLE) vs. Kenta Maeda (2-2, MIN)
A not-so-great divisional battle of two former top teams is up next. The White Sox are slowly starting to assert their dominance in the AL Central. The Indians come into this one trying to hang with the Sox, at 22-18, 2 ½ games back, going 5-5 over their last 10. Meanwhile, the Twins are one of the biggest disappointments in the majors this year, stumbling to a 14-26 record, behind both Detroit and Kansas City.
The Indians really can’t hit worth a lick of spit, so they’re doing it with pitching. Their offense is basically just Jose Ramirez (.264-12-25) and Franmil Reyes (.252-10-26). Josh Naylor has been a pleasant surprise at .265-4-12, but that’s pretty much it. However, they will have their ace on the mound Saturday as Shane Bieber looks to right his ship against the twins. Bieber has just a 4-3 record with a 3.17 ERA – solid but underwhelming for him. He has struck out a whopping 92 in just 59 innings, however. His last 2 starts, Beiber has pitched a total of 11.1 innings, giving up 5 runs, 14 hits and 7 BB – an unsightly 4.05 ERA and 1.89 WHIP. He did strike out 15 over those 11.1 innings though.
The Twins, meanwhile, are led by all-world CF Byron Buxton, hitting .370-9-17…. except he’s on the IL with an injury, a grade-2 hip strain and the Twins haven’t been the same team since he went out. (3-8 since his injury) I mean, let’s be honest. They weren’t good with him. Nelson Cruz is hitting .283-9-23 and Willians Astudillo is hitting .300, but with only 3 HR and 11 RBI. JA Happ will start for the Twins, and he’s been hilarious lately. When I say hilarious, I don’t mean funny – I mean bad. Real bad. Happ is 2-2, 5.35 ERA, but his last 2 starts, the White Sox absolutely dismantled him. Twice. On May 13, he allowed 9 ER, 9 H in 3.1 IP. On May 18, he gave up 6 ER, 7 H over 3.2 IP. So, for the math majors, that’s 7 IP, 15 ER, 16 H. He added 5 BB for good measure. That’s a 19.29 ERA and a 7.00 WHIP. That’s not…man I don’t know what that is, but it’s not baseball.
Bieber rights the ship against the terrible Twins.
The Pick: Cleveland Indians
SUNDAY, MAY 23
CHICAGO CUBS (22-21) at ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (25-18), 7 p.m. ET
PITCHERS: Adam Wainwright (2-4, STL) vs. Zach Davies (2-2, CHC)
For Sunday, we’re going to jump over to the NL Central for a spirited matchup v. two of the oldest teams in baseball. The Cardinals of St. Louis vs. the Chicago Cubs. The I-55 rivalry (or Route 66 Rivalry if you prefer) is as old as baseball itself. The Cubs lead the regular season series 1,244 – 1,186 (with 19 ties).
Alright, enough vamping. The Cubs are 21-20, just 2.5 games behind the Cardinals for first place. The Cards are 24-18. So, this is pretty big for a late-May series. Both teams are 6-4 over their last 10, so I expect this entire series to be exciting. It closes out on Sunday, and the Cards will roll with Kwang Hyun Kim, who’s been solid, at 1-1, 2.73 ERA, 1.29 WHIP. But he’s only averaging just over 4 IP per start, so the Cards will have to use their bullpen in this one. That’s okay, the Cardinals have an exceptional bullpen with Alex Reyes (0.41 ERA, 12 saves), Kodi Whitley (1.86); Giovanny Gallegos (2.13), and Genesis Cabrera (2.14).
The Cardinals are hitting exceptionally well, led by off-season acquisition, Nolan Arenado (3B), .307-10-30, Yadier Molina (C), .302-6-20; rookie Dylan Carlson (CF), .287-3-17 and Paul Goldschmidt (6 HR, 22 RBI).
The Cubs are being led by a trio of veteran hitters, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, and Javier Baez, who combine for 27 HR, 74 RBI, and .277 composite BA. (Bryant is hitting .309 to carry that stat.) However, the Cubs will be forced to turn the ball over to Zack Davies, who’s struggled in 2021, going 2-2, 5.58 ERA, and 1.75 WHIP. However, over his last 3 starts, Davies has been better, going 17.1 IP 4 ER, 18 H, and 4 BB. That’s a 2.11 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. The Cubs are 2-1 over those 3 games. However, the Cardinals are a solid, disciplined hitting team and Davies only struck out 6 guys over those 17.1 IP. He pitches to contact, and the Cards are a contact hitting team. This is a terrible matchup for him, so take the Cards for the win.
The Pick: St. Louis Cardinals