Both of these teams are expected to win their respective divisions but only the Cardinals have looked like division leaders so far this year. The Nationals are getting healthier with the return of Jayson Werth and Denard Span and still have the best rotation in baseball. The Cardinals have won five straight and have allowed just 24 runs in 11 games, an average of 2.2 runs per game.
My pick: Nationals 5, Cardinals 4
Miami Marlins (Dan Haren) @Philadelphia Phillies (Jerome Williams)
The best cure for a four game losing streak is a game against the Phillies and the Marlins have just that on their plate today. The Phillies have a better record but a worse run differential and Dan Haren is a better pitcher than Jerome Williams.
My pick: Marlins 7, Phillies 4
Chicago Cubs (Travis Wood) @Pittsburgh Pirates (Francisco Liriano)
A pair of lefties are starting today and there's a large difference between these two teams in their performance against lefties so far this season. The Cubs have a .393 OBP and .380 SLG against left-handed pitchers. The Pirates are at .243 and .371. Cubs' phenom Kris Bryant is hitting .429/.579/.571 with a .600 BABIP through his first four games but has yet to hit a home run. On the bright side, he's only struck out 21% of the time (small sample size alert!). The biggest concern about Bryant is his minor league strikeout rate, generally a little below 30%. So far, so good.
My pick: Pirates 6, Cubs 3
Baltimore Orioles (Bud Norris) @Toronto Blue Jays (Mark Buehrle)
This is a pitching matchup of mid-rotation starters who can generally keep their teams in games but who are not among the elite. Mark Beuhrle has pitched well enough in his career to win over 200 games thanks in large part to his ability to pitch 200 innings in each of the last fourteen years. Bud Norris has better stuff but worse command and has never had a 200 inning season. Both teams are battling it out in a very tight AL East division that has all five teams separated by just two games in the early going.
My pick: Blue Jays 7, Orioles 5
New York Yankees (Nathan Eovaldi) @Detroit Tigers (Kyle Lobstein)
This should be a high scoring game, unlike yesterday's 2-1 affair. Tigers' pitcher Kyle Lobstein is filling in for the injured Justin Verlander, but he's never been confused for Justin Verlander. Nathan Eovaldi is still trying to harness his stuff to produce good results.
My pick: Tigers 6, Yankees 4
Atlanta Braves (Trevor Cahill) @New York Mets (Jonathon Niese)
The Braves and Mets are among the most surprising teams in baseball in the early going. The Braves are 8-4 and the Mets are 10-3. Neither team will continue to be as good as they've been but the Mets look like legitimate contenders for at least a wild card.
My pick: Mets 5, Braves 3
Boston Red Sox (Wade Miley) @Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer)
The Rays have lost three straight and really need their nominal ace, Chris Archer, to come through today. I think it will happen.
My pick: Rays 6, Red Sox 4
Cleveland Indians (Carlos Carrasco) @Chicago White Sox (Hector Noesi)
In his last start, Carlos Carrasco was hit in the face by a line drive in the first inning. He's still recovering but there was no fracture or concussion and he'll pitch this game after his start was pushed back one day. In his first start of the season, he went 6 1/3 scoreless innings with ten strikeouts.
My pick: Indians 7, White Sox 2
Minnesota Twins (Tommy Milone) @Kansas City Royals (Jason Vargas)
This is the biggest mismatch of the day. The Royals are 10-3 with a +34 run differential. The Twins are 5-8 with a -26 run differential. In fact, based on run differential, this is almost the biggest mismatch possible in all of baseball. The Twins are tied with the Tigers for the greatest positive run differential in baseball, while only the Phillies have a worse negative run differential than the Twins.
My pick: Royals 6, Twins 4
Cincinnati Reds (Jason Marquis) @Milwaukee Brewers (Mike Fiers)
If there's a chance for the Brewers to snap their six-game losing streak, it's when they're facing Jason Marquis.
My pick: Brewers 6, Reds 3
San Diego Padres (Brandon Morrow) @Colorado Rockies (Tyler Matzek)
The Padres made a flurry of offseason moves to improve their offense and so far, so good. They are currently leading the National League in runs scored and are second in all of baseball. Matt Kemp is hitting .368/.393/.561, Justin Upton is hitting .327/.370/.612, and Derek Norris is hitting .314/.340/.412. Now that improved offense is playing in Colorado, where they scored 14 runs yesterday.
My pick: Padres 8, Rockies 5
Texas Rangers (Nick Martinez) @Arizona Diamondbacks (Chase Anderson)
The Diamondbacks are off to a 7-6 start. Last year, they started 7-18 and fell out of the race before it got started. The Rangers are coming off a brutal defeat in which their bullpen blew a 10-5 lead in the last three innings.
My pick: Diamondbacks 5, Rangers 4
Oakland Athletics (Drew Pomeranz) @Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago)
Both of these teams have been below average when facing left-handed pitchers so far this year, but Drew Pomeranz is a better left-handed pitcher than Hector Santiago, so the A's have the edge.
My pick: Athletics 6, Angels 4
Houston Astros (Collin McHugh) @Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker)
Mariners' starter Taijuan Walker was terrific in spring training but has been terrible in two starts in the regular season. The Astros' Collin McHugh has continued to pitch well after his breakout season last year. If things continue as they have so far this year, the Astros win easily.
My pick: Astros 7, Mariners 3
Los Angeles Dodgers (Brett Anderson) @San Francisco Giants (Tim Lincecum)
The Dodgers and Giants have been rivals going back to their time in New York, but this year the rivalry is looking more and more one-sided in favor of the Dodgers, who are 9-3 to the Giant's 4-10.
My pick: Dodgers 5, Giants 3