We notched a nice easy winner last night with the Nationals and Marlins putting the OVER in the bag in the top of the fifth en route to the Marlins 6-4 victory, the first win and loss for the two teams respectively. Several other teams will be seeking their first wins today, and one will have to get it as the winless Braves and Cardinals begin a series. And of course, the Padres will not only be seeking their first win, but also their first RUN of the season tonight in Colorado. If they get shut out IN COORS, perhaps it is time to cancel the season in San Diego…
Meanwhile, the somewhat surprising Cincinnati Reds will attempt to remain perfect tonight at home hosting the also-perfect Pittsburgh Pirates. Granted, three wins over the Phillies does not a playoff contender make, but it will be interesting to see how the Redlegs fare tonight against tough competition and a top-line starter in Francisco Liriano.
Let’s see if we can make it two wins in a row with tonight’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Chicago Cubs -135 at Arizona Diamondbacks +125 (Total: 9)
Jason Hamel vs. Robbie Ray
This isn’t an easy spot for Robbie Ray to make his season debut. The Cubs can hit from the top to the bottom of the lineup, even with Kyle Schwarber out of the lineup tonight as they evaluate his ankle from last night’s injury. Ray was just 5-12 with a 3.52 ERA last season, but was a disappointing 1-6 with a 4.88 ERA in 11 starts in Chase Field. Tough ballpark + tough historical home splits + dynamic offense = trouble.
Not that Jason Hamel has been Cy Young. Hamel earned his spot in the rotation this Spring, but he has more than failed to love up to expectations since last season’s All Star Break. Brought in to bolster the Cubs rotation, Hamel has instead flirted with being removed from it ever since. He posted a 5.10 ERA after the Break and was a dreadful 0-2 with an 11.05 ERA in his two postseason starts. He isn’t in immediate danger of losing his spot, but it is fair to say there is some pressure on Hamel to get off to a good start this season.
I like the Cubs, but rather than taking them at a minus-line with a question mark starting, I am going to bank on both offenses having nice nights. Arizona is one of the best offenses in the National League and were very good at home in 2015. If they were facing Lester or Arietta, I might bet on the hurlers, but tonight with two bottom of the rotation guys going, I’ll take the bats.