It looked like a no-sweat winner as the Braves and Rockies took a scoreless game into the bottom of the ninth. It ended up being a winner with a little room to spare but a little stress down the stretch. The two teams combined for a total of ten runs in the next three innings, yet still tucked softly under the massive total of twelve. We’ve batted .500 since the All Star Break, but with a nice +165 winner in the mix, we are still off to a positive second half start. Let’s see if we can ramp those numbers up a big with a big weekend.
There are only two series in the National League with playoff contenders going head-to-head, the Dodgers and Cardinals and Marlins vs. the Mets, but those two series will certainly be interesting. The Dodgers and Mets have major pitching injury woes, the Cardinals have underperformed all year long, especially at home, and the Marlins have a chance to emerge as the lone ‘surprise contender’ with staying power.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Chicago Cubs -168 at Milwaukee Brewers +158 (Total: 7.5)
Jason Hamel (8-5, 3.34 ERA) vs. Jimmy Nelson (6-7, 3.39 ERA)
The Cubs are the favorite. That sentence should be true in about 80% of their games the rest of this season. Unless they face the race instance where they get a fifth starter matched up against an ace on the road, they are going to be the favorite in most games. They have the top offense in the league and a deeper pitching rotation with significant top of the rotation strength (recent foibles of Arrieta and Lester aside). But, as they have abundantly proved over the last two months, they are far from guaranteed winners most nights, despite many lines that have them at 1 to 2 odds.
Tonight is another such night. The Cubs are way better than the Brewers, but Jimmy Nelson has been really good this year, especially the past month, and the Brewers can hit a little bit to boot. He has allowed just six earned runs in his last five starts. He has yet to beat the Cubs in his career, but it isn’t because of poor performance. He has an ERA of 2.83 in his four starts against Chicago.
Look, the Cubs deserve to be the favorite. But there is some VALUE in the Brewers at +158 and I’m going to take a chance on Jimmy Nelson’s solid pitching finally earning him some better results.