Jordan Zimmermann at plus-money??? Yes, please. The beat rolled on last night with our fifth straight MLB winner, and another plus-money winner to boot with Zimmermann (who was admittedly less than sharp) outlasting Miguel Gonzalez and the Orioles en route to a 7-4 win for the Nats. It was our eighth winner in the last nine picks with three underdogs in the mix, so it has been a real nice close to the first half of the baseball season.
I’m almost sad today is the final day of action, because you never want to walk away from the table while you are raking up all the chips. But alas, today concludes the first half of the season, so let’s see if we can make it six in a row before heading to Cincinnati for some All Star festivities.
It’s been a great first half of the season – and a surprising one in several divisions. If you saw Yankees vs. Astros as the 2/3 matchup in the American League, than your clairvoyance is staggering. Cards, Dodgers, Royals, Nationals, Pirates – sure. Astros, Yankees, Twins?? It’s going to be an interesting Fall…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Pittsburgh Pirates -162 vs. St. Louis Cardinals +149 (Total: 7)
Francisco Liriano vs. Tim Cooney
The Cardinals are sending a rookie who has allowed four runs in eleven innings in the majors to the mound tonight to try and split a series against their division rival and the hottest team in baseball. It’s going to be a tough ask for the redbirds tonight. Pittsburgh has cut the Central Division lead to just 3 ½ games, the closest it has been since late May. It is pretty impressive to think a lead of nine games just three weeks ago could be as slim at 2 ½ at the All Star Break. It’s easy to overstate the importance of any regular season baseball game, but tonight is a legitimately big game. There is an enormous difference between 4 ½ and 2 ½, especially mentally.
So can Cooney shut down the Bucs? The Pirate offense, much maligned, even during their epic winning streak, has been good in this Cardinals series. They have already scored eleven runs this weekend and the absolute awesomeness of Andrew McCutchen has been a big reason. His weekend heroics aside, the Pirates MVP candidate is hitting .356 with 4 HR and 11 RBI during an 18-game hitting streak. I expect him to extend it to 19 tonight against young Cooney.
Francisco Liriano had a rough outing last time against St. Louis, but has been excellent against them in his career, posting a 4-1 record with a 1.97 ERA in his first ten career starts against the Birds. He is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last three starts overall, so all the metric favor he and the Pirates tonight.
I don’t like to take padded lines as a rule, so I’ll split my pick tonight to get a little more value. I really like Pittsburgh to win, but at -162 you deserve a little more daring on my end to earn some dollars. I’ll take half my pick and throw it on the moneyline; banking both on Liriano and the Pirates abiity to hit the rookie tonight.