Our four game MLB winning streak was snapped by a late Marlins runs to eclipse the Dodgers 3-2, but we will try and get back on the winning train with a pair of big money underdogs plays this evening.
Meanwhile, we are about 20 games into the season, so we are starting to get a decent sample size for both hitters and pitchers. And as the sample size begins to emerge, each division is beginning to look more like we expected. The Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers are leading the division with the Cardinals, Mets, and Pirates the leading wildcard candidates – just as expected. Colorado is still better than expected, but the Rockies having a hot April only to fade into misery is a pretty standard act.
Every once in a while, we can catch a decent flyer play on a big-name pitcher who hasn’t been particularly sharp facing off against a lesser known hurler who has been having some good results. Today’s play is a two-fold heavy underdog play – if we can go 1-1, it is a nice positive money day. 2-0 and let the good times roll. Here are my two ‘dogs I’m backing today.
Today’s MLB Picks:
Cincinnati Reds +155 at New York Mets -165 (Total: 7.5)
Brandon Finnegan (1-1, 3.74 ERA) vs. Bartolo Colon (1-1, 2.89 ERA)
The Reds have struggled lately, dropping four of their last five. However, four of those five losses came to the following pitchers: Noah Syndergaard, Jason Hamel, Jon Lester, and Jake Arrieta. That’s a pretty rough road to navigate. They get a slight reprieve tonight with the venerable veteran Bartolo Colon on the mound.
Brandon Finnegan could replicate his Wrigley near-no hitter magic in his second attempt at the Cubbies, getting rocked for five runs in a very brief outing, but is sporting a 1.14 ERA on the road this season. He has been pretty solid this season aside from being on the wrong side of Jake Arrieta last outing. He will also benefit from Yoenis Cespedes being out of the lineup tonight.
The Reds are certainly not the better team, but with Colon’s lifetime 3.77 ERA against them, they have a shot tonight. And at more than 3/2 odds, they are a nice value play tonight.
Philadelphia Phillies +200 at Washington Nationals -210
Vince Velasquez (2-1, 0.93 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (2-1, 4.32 ERA)
Picking against the Nats is a tough leap these days. Picking the Phillies on the road after their last two seasons of vominous baseball feels even crazier. But there is some value in the longshot tonight.
Scherzer has yet to find his rhythm this season and hasn’t had the pinpoint control and command fans are accustomed to seeing. He has fared well historically against the Phillies, posting 37 strikeouts in 37 innings with a 4-1 record and a dazzling 1.36 ERA. But this is a largely different Phillies lineup he will be facing today, though Ryan Howard might want to bring a boat oar to the dish since he is 1 for 16 lifetime with 10 punch-out’s against Scherzer.
Meanwhile, the genesis for the hope in the severe underdog is the awesome start to the season for Vince Velasquez. He enters today with an ERA under one, and allowed his only two runs of the season in his last outing against Washington. He struck out 25 batters in his first 15 innings, and has 29 Ks in just under 20 innings for the season. He is missing a LOT more bats than Scherzer, and while he is pitching to a much better lineup than his counterpart, making +200 a decent long shot value wager. The Nationals are very good and playing exceptional baseball, but I’m not wild about laying two to one on many regular season baseball games – it isn’t basketball or football – it’s about starting pitching, and the Phillies have a hurler that gives them a fighting chance tonight.