We notched a third straight winner last night and a seventh in ten MLB plays with a few juicy underdogs mixed in as well. Mike Leake handled his business, inducing a ton of groundballs as prescribed in the column en route to seven scoreless innings and an easy victory. The Cubs also lost yesterday, so very quietly, the best offense in the National League by nearly every statistical measure, pulled to within seven games in the runaway National League Central. They can close to six today if the slumping Cubs can’t solve MadBum in San Francisco, and then they gear up to host three straight against the Cubbies.
There are some fun matchups today; the aforementioned Madison Bumgarner facing off against the Cubbies on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, Max Scherzer trying to strikeout 27 Marlins in Miami, and Kenta Maeda trying to find his first-month form against the Padres in pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
But we will stay with the Cardinals for today’s free pick in a very interesting pitching matchup.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Arizona Diamondbacks +117 at St. Louis Cardinals -127
Zack Greinke (4-3, 5.04 ERA) vs. Jaime Garcia (3-3, 2.86 ERA)
Is it time to be concerned about Zack Greinke yet? Is it time to be flat-out panicked? The crown jewel of the free agency period has been anything but a Cy Young candidate so far. He enters today with an ERA over five and four starts where he has allowed four or more runs and only one start where he allowed less than two. His WHIP is up to 1.39 though his strikeout to walk ratio is a decent 4:1-plus. He just isn’t as sharp as he needs to be and he will have his work cut out for him in a major way today against the offensively-potent Cardinals.
We had success backing Mike Leake yesterday against a starter who has struggled. Today’s starter certainly has a lot more frightening potential to make us look foolish, but there is nothing to indicate he is shutting down the redbirds today based on his first nine starts. I’ll take Garcia to pitch well, as he has most of the season, and for the Cardinals bats to do their job well.
Greinke has had good career success against St. Louis, but the Cardinals shelled him for seven runs in their last meeting. I think today falls somewhere in between, but I’m banking on Garcia to again pitch well and for the three or four runs they scratch out against Greinke to be enough to win.