I took a one day hiatus yesterday, but are back today in full effect and looking to build on a modest two-game winning streak. But let’s face it; the winning streak of much greater importance is the one brewing down in Arlington. The Rangers took another game off the Astros last night and have now done something nearly-unthinkable a month and a half ago – stormed into the lead in the American League West. Their eight and a half game lead has evaporated as they now trail Texas by a half game (one full game in the loss column). That makes tonight’s series finale absolutely vital and the matchup between Kuechel and Perez the biggest in baseball tonight and possibly thus far in the 2015 season.
If the Astros ever needed a big game, anchor of the rotation, Cy Young-candidate performance, it is tonight from Dallas Kuechel. A loss tonight could be absolutely devastating as they’d fall two games behind Texas for the West, and only two games ahead of the Angels for the second and final wildcard position. As it is, the second wildcard would be a crushing letdown for a city hungry for a home playoff game; their first since joining the American League.
In summary: tonight is HUGE for the Astros and Rangers, and while it isn’t my official pick, it is a game you don’t want to miss!
Today’s Free Picks:
Chicago Cubs -135 at Pittsburgh Pirates +125 (Total: 7)
Jake Arietta vs. A.J. Burnett
If I had to select one starting pitcher to throw in a game that my life depended upon, I’m not sure I wouldn’t choose Jake Arietta right now. Greinke is going to win the Cy Young. Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball. But Jake Arietta has it going something ridiculous right now, and I’d be inclined to hand him the ball.
Jake Arietta has won eight straight starts and has a 0.46 ERA, including a no-hitter, in the process. He is 11-1 with a 1.00 ERA since the All Star Break. He can become the first Cubs twenty game winner since Greg Maddux tonight. Wow. Amazing stuff.
He’ll have his work cut out for him playing against the ridiculous home-field advantage of the Pirates who win two of three at PNC and have one of the best home records in franchise history. They have A.J Burnett back after some fear his career (he said he is retiring at season’s end) might have ended with a mid-season injury. He allowed three runs in his five innings in his return performance against Milwaukee last weekend and will be looking to build on that start, and possibly be stretched out a little bit tonight.
I’m not sure it matters. Arietta is simply unhittable right now, and I don’t see Burnett being able to match dominance. I don’t think he’ll get shelled, but I also don’t think he wins. The Cubs aren’t just getting competitive performances from Arietta like you see from so many top-line pitchers (think King Felix’s Cy Young Year). His dominance is translating to wins – eight times in a row. Why not make it nine tonight??
Today’s Free Pick: Chicago Cubs to WIN -135