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Braves vs Pirates Pick MLB – April 20th + Bonus Picks

Our winning streak was snapped by Roy Halladay’s pitching effort in a rain shortened seven-inning win over St. Louis last night.  Let’s bounce back today with a pair of picks.

Atlanta Braves -132 at Pittsburgh Pirates +125 (Total: 7.5)

Paul Maholm (3-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. James McDonald (1-2, 5.27 ERA)

Paul Maholm’s record and ERA are not a typo.  The veteran lefty has started the 2013 season in a fashion that not even he could have envisioned in his wildest dreams.  Everyone knew the Braves had good pitching.  Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen, the dominant bullpen led by Craig Venters… this staff is nasty.  But no one expected Maholm to flirt with the record for consecutive scoreless innings to start a season.

The lefty heads to Pittsburgh tonight looking to stretch out perfection  in a familiar place.  He was a long-time Pittsburgh Pirate and otday will actually mark his 100th start at PNC Park.  He has a career record of 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA against his former mates.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh moved back to .500 on the season by shutting out the red-hot Braves 6-0 last night.  It was a nice win, but I don’t think the odds of shutting down that offense two nights in a row are particularly good.  It should be a bit warmer than last night’s frigid game, which could very likely warm up the bats a little bit as well.

I don’t think anyone will be casting a Cy Young ballot for Paul Maholm at season’s end, but for now I am going to ride the hot pitcher facing a mediocre lineup (they’ve scored the third fewest runs in the NL) in a familiar setting.

Free Pick:  Atlanta Braves to WIN -132

Cleveland Indians -106 at Houston Astros -102 (Total: 8.5)

Scott Kazmir (first appearance) vs. Phillip Humber (0-3, 2.86 ERA)

Humber has actually pitched well this season for the Astros, but has three losses to show for it.  It’s tough to pitch for a team that is scoring just 4 runs per game, but sooner or later if he keeps pitching as well as he has the wins will come…

Meanwhile, Scott Kazmir gets the ball for the first time this season for Cleveland, who after a decent start has hit the skids badly.  They are 5-10 and have lost five games in a row.  I think tonight will mark number six.  It is a nice story; the two-time All-Star trying to resurrect his career after a 5.89 ERA for the Angels back in 2010 and a career arc that saw him most recently pitching for a team called the “Skeeters” in the Independent League.   So I am rooting for him.

But I’m not putting my money where my hope is.  Give me Houston tonight at near even money.

Free Pick:  Houston Astros to WIN -102