We notched a second straight winner last night with the Los Angeles Angels taking the series opener over red-hot Tampa Bay and Jeremy Helickson. However, it was a good night across the national landscape for massive underdogs. Two of the -200-plus favorites fell last night; Washington lost a tight 2-1 ballgame to the Phillies while Chris Sale had an uncharacteristically bad outing in the White Sox 10-8 to Minnesota. We cashed a nice winner at near even money, but kudos to anyone who took a flyer on either big dog last night.
There are four such massive favorites again tonight; Oakland, Detroit, Washington and the Dodgers – so are any worth a flyer tonight??? Let’s dig into tonight’s free pick.
Today’s Free Pick:
Chicago Cubs +190 at Los Angeles Dodgers -210 (Total: 7)
Tsuyoshi Wada (1-1, 3.38 ERA) vs. Hyun-jin Ryu (12-5, 3.44 ERA)
We’re looking for a nice value play tonight, and I think we have one with young Wada and the Cubs. They are enormous underdogs, but the pitching matchup is fairly even. Ryu is the venerable tested veteran turning in yet another good season, while Wada is making just his fourth start. However, there is a ton to like about his last few outings. In his last outing he earned his first major league win, allowing just a run to the Rockies in seven innings pitched.
The Cubs have won four of their last five and are hitting .285 in the process. They’ll have to find a way to cool off Yasiel Puig, who is 13 of 29 with nine runs scored and eight extra base hits in his last six games, but at +190 they are a value worth taking a chance on.
Kansas City Royals +190 at Oakland A’s -210 (Total: 7)
Jason Vargas (8-4, 3.31 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (10-7, 2.52 ERA)
It’s a big day for both starting pitchers; Jason Vargas makes his return to the Royals after missing the last month with an appendectomy, while Jon Lester makes his debut for the Oakland A’s after one of the trade deadlines most audacious moves.
I think there is a ton more pressure on Lester. His addition was supposed to the ticket to a World Series Championship. However, the A’s were blanked in their first game since dealing away their clean-up hitter Yoenis Cespedes. Agreed, it’s a VERY small sample size, but don’t discount the effect to their offense and some brief adjustment time as well.
The A’s are obviously the better team, and on normal days, John Lester is one of the best lefties in all of baseball. But I have a funny feeling he’ll give up a nervous run or two and that Vargas will show up big in his return. Either way, the nearly 2:1 odds are tough to ignore. It’s another good value play, and I’m taking a shot fading Lester’s debut.