We picked up a nice win last night when we took the Houston Astros against the Los Angeles Angels. Sometimes you just really nail a pick, that is what happened last night. I mentioned in my pick that I expected Justin Verlander to go seven-plus innings and be very good and that I expected Garret Richards to be just slightly worse. My prediction for the final score? 2-1 Houston.
Verlander was unbelievable once again as he pitched a complete game shutout. Verlander has been on another level this year and is pitching better than he ever has before. After this start, his ERA now sits at 1.05. I mentioned in my pick that getting Verlander at such a small price was value I just couldn’t pass up on. Richards was really strong as well, as expected. He pitched seven innings and gave up just two unearned runs on four hits. The final score? 2-0 Houston. This series was a great one, and I think we are in store for a fantastic finish in the AL West as both of these teams are very good. For today’s pick, I will look at the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves.
The Chicago Cubs are in Atlanta Thursday night for the series finale of a four-game set with the Braves. The Braves hold a two games to one series lead. Each game in this series has been tight. The first two games were both one-run affairs, with the teams splitting the first two games one game each. Last night’s game was even closer as they hit the bottom of the eighth inning tied at one run each before the Braves exploded for three runs in the bottom half of the inning to steal game three and take a lead in the series.
Starting tonight for the Braves is rookie sensation Mike Soroka (1-1 3.68 ERA), and the Cubs will go with veteran Jon Lester (3-1 2.66 ERA). The Cubs are small -115 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at nine runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:35 PM PST from SunTrust Park in Atlanta.
Mike Soroka is just twenty years old and is making his fourth ever MLB start. The kid came up with a lot of fanfare as he is yet another very young player for this Braves team with a lot of talent. In his first start, he looked fantastic. He pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Mets and picked up a win in his first ever start. His next two starts? Yeah, not as good.
In his last two starts, Soroka has pitched eight and two-thirds innings and has given up nine runs. Now, four of those runs weren’t earned, but at the end of the day they still count on the scoreboard and make it hard for your team to win games. Soroka is a very promising prospect that they are asking to be elite right out of the box. It remains to be seen if the youngster can live up to that level of hype. He will surely have his hands full tonight against one of the best hitting teams in the majors, the Chicago Cubs.
The Chicago Cubs have been bouncing up and down all season long. Sometimes they go several games without having any offensive production, and other times they explode for double digits in a game. They have scored eleven runs or more three times in their last nine games. It is hard to nail down exactly what lineup is going to show up for the Cubs, but I expect they will enjoy feasting on a twenty-year-old starter tonight in Atlanta.
The one thing that has been consistent for the Cubs this year? Jon Lester. The venerable veteran has been lights out all season long so far. In his last three starts he has pitched sixteen and a third innings and has given up just three earned runs. The Cubs are 6-2 in games in which Lester starts as they have scored eight runs or more in five of those eight starts. The Cubs love to score runs for the lefty, and he is winning games at a high rate because of it.
I have been riding the Braves a lot this season. They have been undervalued much of the season and have the best record in the National League. I have found lots of great spots to back them profitably this year. This isn’t one of them. I just haven’t seen enough out of Mike Soroka to tell me that he should be close to even money against a strong offense like the Cubs, with a very experienced and strong starter on the mound like Jon Lester.
The Cubs have had their ups and downs, but it feels like the recent Braves hype might have gotten a little off the rails with this number. Chicago could easily be -130 or more in this game. Soroka may be the future, but right now he is a twenty-year-old that hasn’t quite figured out how to get guys out at the big-league level. And he is being valued much too highly in this game tonight. So, I’ll jump on the other side and lay just a little bit of wood and feel like a much bigger favorite in this one. Give me the Chicago Cubs -115 as small road favorites in game four!