DO you remember when Josh Hamilton took a dump all over Texas Rangers fans and they subsequently decided they didn’t like him with equal fervor? Yeah, neither do Rangers fans.
The prodigal son returned this week, and his return, while met with mostly yawns from the baseball world as a whole, might wind up being a much bigger deal than we realized. Josh and the Rangers partied like it was 2010 last night as the former MVP blasted two homeruns in a 7-4 win over Boston. The Rangers were left for dead after the season-ending injury to Yu Darvish before the season even started, but all of a sudden, if Hamilton can make a real impact in the lineup, you are looking at a team that can seriously mash with Fielder, Beltre and Hamilton in the middle of the order. They are already fourth in the AL in runs scored led by Prince Fielder as his league-leading .364 batting average. Add a healthy and productive Hamilton in the mix? Maybe, just maybe, this Rangers team can actually compete.
Meanwhile my six-pick streak came up a half-run short last night in the Reds 5-2 win over the Nats. Perhaps of more importance was the second-inning departure of Stephen Strasburg with an undisclosed injury. Maybe if he had lasted a few more innings we’d have gotten the extra run we needed, because the Reds were hitting the ball hard off him early… Hopefully Stras is alright and can get back to being the guy we saw in his first few seasons because his stuff was electric and a blast to watch.
Let’s get the weekend rolling with a winner today.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Los Angeles Dodgers +133 at St. Louis Cardinals -141 (Total: 7.5)
Carlos Frias (3-2, 5.34 ERA) vs. Michael Wacha (7-0, 1.86 ERA)
Let’s start with the basics. Michael Wacha has been a Cy Young candidate and is looking for his league-leading eighth win while sporting an ERA under 2.00. Carlos Frias has shown some excellent flashes since being moved from a relief role to the starting rotation. He allowed only 7 runs in 22.1 innings in his first four starts, albeit never going more than six innings. His last outing was a disaster, allowing 10 earned runs and 14 baserunners in four innings. So, his season stats are a little skewed in that he has some sparkling relief outings strengthening things and one DISATROUS start dragging the numbers down. He hasn’t been a plus-five ERA quality pitcher on every day this season except one.
Wacha’s case in an interesting one. You could look at the numbers and say, Cy Young. I mean, he is perfect on the season, his ERA is under two and his team is a perfect 9-0 in games he has started. Yet his strikeout rate is a career0-low and his 5.4 ranks him in the bottom 15% of all eliglbe MLB pitchers. He is also allowing hitters a .254 batting average with no one on base, which is pretty mediocre, and makes you wonder if his average run support of 6.0 is skewing some data.
And then you look at a couple other numbers. Mainly, the fact that he is allowing a .149 batting average with runner on base. That would be the lowest since Pedro’s 2000 season, and would be the first to hold batters under .150 since 1974. And then there is the perfection angle – his team NEVER loses when he pitches. That’s strong stuff. I think I’d still lean Scherzer and then Greinke, but Wacha is still in the early season discussion for All Star Starter.
I expect Frias to bounce back, but that Wacha and the Cards will be too much. This is a great matchup and is the featured game on FOX tonight, so enjoy it if you can. I plan on enjoying it and hopefully notching a winner with St. Louis. The Cards are 19-5 at home this season. The Dodgers are 7-12 on the road. That’s a big discrepancy AND I get Michael Wacha at a reasonable price? Sold.