We got back on track yesterday with a double-up win on Johnny Cueto and the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds continued the Brewers misery with a 4-2 victory. The Reds got back to .500 with the win, but perhaps any optimism should be tempered by the fact that five of their ten wins have come against the Milwaukee Brewers who fell to an insane 4-17 on the season. The Brewers will actually be competitive once all their best players return from injury (they are also missing Scooter Gennett, in addition to Gomez and Lucroy), but for now, wow is it miserable up in Milwaukee…
We will try to build on yesterday’s momentum with a winner today, and a look at one of the most unlikely first-place teams in MLB.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Houston Astros -103 at San Diego Padres -107 (Total: 6.5)
Dallas Kuechel (1-0, 0.82 ERA) vs. Andrew Cashner (1-3. 2.64 ERA)
The standings in the AL West look completely upside down. The Astros are on top at 13-7, a full four games ahead of the Angels, A’s and Mariners. So are the Astros, who have been “rebuilding” for five full seasons, really legit now, or is this just a nice April before the inevitable slide down to fourth place (surely they can’t fall below the Rangers…)?
A big part of the Astros resurgence is the man on the mound tonight. Dallas Kuechel has been a legit ace so far this season with an ERA under one and a WHIP to match his ERA at 0.82 and he hasn’t allowed a run in 15 innings. Their offense has also been enormous. They are hitting just .236 as a team, but they have been on fire lately, winning nine of their last ten games and scoring piles of runs in the process. They have averaged 6.7 runs per game. They’ve averaged 7.37 runs on their current road trip, all wins, against Oakland and San Diego.
But today they face another shut-down ace in Andrew Cashner. If momentum is only a strong as the next day’s pitcher, the ‘Stros awesome momentum might slow down today. Cashner has been every bit as good as Kuechel, and makes today a rare treat where BOTH pitchers enter with ERA’s under 1.00 in their last three starts. I expect Cashner to fare well today as long as he can get Jose Altuve out. Baseball’s most underrated star has hit .467 over his last six games and has looked like an MVP candidate (in the Dustin Pedroia mold) for the first month of the season.
I like a low-scoring affair today. Two potentially-dominant starting pitchers on a day game on get-away day sounds like a good recipe for a quick game and a low-scoring contest.