The widening of the gap in what at one time looked like one of the more competitive divisions in baseball, the American League East, has reached a season high 8 ½ games. Not many people were picking the Orioles before the season and even fewer were picking them to run away with the division, but that is exactly what Buck Shoewalter’s club has done. And while the fanfare around Oakland and Detroit was loud, the O’s just put their heads down and kept grinding. If the season ended today they would be hosting Kansas City in the first game of the ALDS, while the Los Angeles Angels would be awaiting the winner of the Detroit/Seattle play-in game to face the Oakland A’s in the Wildcard game…
Yes, there are still 35+ games to play, but if anyone would have correctly predicted that season outcome in Vegas back in March, they’d be very, very happy right now. And rich.
I tried to strike it rich yesterday with a decent percentage play on a big time long shot, and it promptly blew up in my face. The Nats chased Chase Anderson quickly, and Strasburg held down the fort from there. Today we will try to get back to winning ways with a slightly more conventional play.
Today’s Free Pick:
Los Angeles Angels -135 at Boston Red Sox +125 (Total: 8.5)
Garrett Richards (13-4, 2.53 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (5-7, 5.79 ERA)
I’m not sure what Garrett Richards needs to do to earn some respect from the handicapping world. His ERA is more than three runs better than Bucholtz, his team is 18 ½ games better than the Red Sox, and the Angels enter hot, the Sox enter losers of four of their last five. Yet somehow Richards is installed as just a slight favorite tonight in Boston.
Richards hit a little blip at the end of July, two bad outings with a 5.54 ERA, however since the calendar turned to August he has been back to his dominant ways. He is 2-0 with a 1.19 ERA in three starts. This is following a ten game stint in June/July where he went 7-0 with a 1.25 ERA. So, if you throw out two rough outings in the middle, you are looking at a pitcher who has been as good as ANYONE in all of baseball most of the bulk of the season.
Meanwhile, Bucholtz has struggled mightily all season long. He was decent in his last outing against the Angels, holding his own squaring off against Richards, but his cause was aided by a few unearned runs charged to the Angels. Assuming their defense is clean tonight, I see Richards winning this game easily.
I love them at -125, and am doubling up on the -1.5 runline. I think this is one of the better values I’ve seen in a while. I love that Trout is hitting .444 in eight games at Fenway. Look for him to make things happen tonight to generate a few runs – and that’s all Richards should need.