Perhaps I should have taken one more vacation day. Dan Haren, who entering last night was the second WORST pitcher in the entire National League in terms of ERA, ahead of only the recently-released (and subsequently signed by the Dodgers as a reclamation project) Edinson Volquez. SO, of course, he throws a three-hit masterpiece last night. I can’t call it a “bad beat” since the Mets lost 3-0 and never threatened to score. But it certainly aligns with the continuing improbability of a few games and series this week.
Suffice it to say I’m ready for a new slate of matchups, many of which commence tonight, and some fresh looks at a few good games. So without further ado, let’s dig into today’s free pick.
Today’s Free Pick:
Chicago Cubs +160 at Pittsburgh Pirates -175 (Total: 7.5)
Chris Rusin (2-3, 2.89 ERA) vs. Jeff Locke (9-5, 3.21 ERA)
The Pirates are flying high after a spectacular sweep of the Texas Rangers IN Texas to pull back even with the Cardinals despite being swept by them last weekend. It’s been a crazy week in MLB, and I think we can expect a ton more drama over the final two and a half weeks of the regular season.
The Pirates will try to continue their winning ways with their All-Star pitcher, Jeff Locke, taking the ball tonight. But as Lee Corso would say, not so fast my friend. Since the All-Star Break Locke has actually been one of the poorer starting pitchers in the National League. He is just 1-3 with a 5.89 ERA. But even more troubling is his 1.98 WHIP and staggering .324 batting average against. For the better part of two months EVERY entire team facing Locke is putting up not just good, but MVP-caliber numbers against him.
The Cubs are by no means a good team, but they aren’t totally incompetent with the bats. The piled on the runs against the Reds already this week (with yesterday’s exception, of course) and are plenty capable of scoring runs(now their pitching is another story…). So far, Chris Rusin has been pretty good since his addition to the rotation. His record is average, but an ERA under 3.00 is pretty decent stuff. However, his K to BB ratio is under 1.5:1 and his WHIP is fairly high at 1.38 – those two numbers tell me that the low ERA might not last too much longer….
I going to make two plays on tonight’s game – the first is a fairly standard wager that I’d feel good calling my pick of the day any ordinary day, the second is a bit of a value play longshot. Betting on the Cubs to win any game on the road is inherently a value-only proposition, and never a lay-up, but I like the value in the starting pitching matchup.
I’m going to assume that tonight isn’t the magic reversal of fortune game for Locke. The numbers since the All-Star break are pretty jarring, and strongly indicative of a pitcher that is fatigued or that the league has simply figured out. Meanwhile, Cubs pitching and especially their bullpen has never been known to exactly slam the door on offenses. I like a high-scoring game tonight, so my first play is the OVER 7.5. I’m also taking a flyer on the Cubbies to continue the week of wacky “awesome one day, terrible the next” that has ebbed and flowed with each series for the NL’s top teams.
Free Picks: Run TOTAL OVER 7.5 & Chicago Cubs to WIN +165