We took a brief one-day hiatus yesterday but will look to pick up where we left off after the Cardinals grabbed us a dramatic ninth inning comeback winner on Wednesday night to push us to 2-1 ATS for the week with a nice plus-money winner in the mix. A good weekend could closeout a good week, and thankfully, we have a nice full slate of new good series to choose from.
The highlight of the weekend National League schedule is the Nationals visiting the Bay Area to take on the Giants in a very possible NLDS preview. Tonight features the surging Max Scherzer against the struggling Jeff Samardzija as the slumping G-Men try to get back on track. Very quietly, the Giants have dropped eight of ten sandwiched around the break and find their NL West lead down to just two games heading into the weekend. The Dodgers have a much gentler matchup with a home series against the visiting Diamondbacks.
Let’s see if we can start a nice weekend and cap off a big week.
- And just a note to be aware of. Keep an eye on lineups tonight and tomorrow as the trade deadline approaches! It is not uncommon to see some big name players on losing teams scratched as deals get close to competition. Just something to watch in series like San Diego vs. Cincinnati and with individual teams like Milwaukee and Colorado.
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Today’s Free Pick:
St. Louis Cardinals +100 at Miami Marlins -110 (Total: 8)
Mike Leake (7-8, 4.22 ERA) vs. Jose Urena (1-2, 5.34 ERA)
It’s been an odd season for Mike Leake. He struggled early, found a nice groove, and then began to repeat the pattern more regularly ever since. In his last four starts he has two terrible outings bookended around a pair of one run-allowed quality starts. His WHIP is pretty good at just 1.24. His opponent batting average against is a staggeringly high .277. He pitches to contact, which is good when he is getting soft ground balls. Pitching to contact is bad when his breaking balls aren’t as sharp and balls begin rocketing off the bat.
The good news for Leake and the Cards is that he has been excellent in Marlins Park in his career. He is 3-0 with a microscopic 0.44 ERA. That bodes well for one of the “good” Leake performances tonight in a season that has seen them quickly alternate and flip. In his career against the Marlins he is 5-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a .194 batting average against.
Opposing Leake is Jose Urena who is making just his third start this season after 14 relief appearances. His two starts have been pretty good. He allowed just a single run in each, notching 1.54 ERA as a starter in 11 2/3 innings. However, he may find the Cardinals lineup a little more challenging than the Mets and Phillies he faced previously.
I like the Cards tonight at even money. It’s a good price for a pitcher going against a team he has dominated. Urena has notched two good starts, but he is up to the majors with the Marlins for the SIXTH time after five trips back to the minors, so it isn’t like they are facing a young phenom breaking through. I’ll bet on some regression tonight and a Cardinals victory at a really nice line.