We made it a half dozen straight winners last night as the Giants and Johnny Cueto cruised to an easy victory over Adam Wainwright and the Cards. The win opened up a two game cushion for the Giants in the wildcard race over the aforementioned Cardinals, and now possessing a chance to do some real damage the rest of this weekend starting tonight with Matt Moore getting the ball as a conservative -120 favorites. Two more wins in this series would put the Giants in a very strong position to make it to the postseason and see if they can continue their even-year postseason brilliance…
However, the biggest news in the NL last night was the Cubbies clinching the first division title in baseball this season. Perhaps in a good twist of fate, the division was won three hours after they lost a game to Milwaukee, so no one was on the field to celebrate. It is fair to say a bow and curtain call have certainly been earned, but the Cubs goals are much larger than a division title. It’s probably just as well to celebrate privately and go back to the more pressing business at hand. While their record and near-record setting run differential are dominant, they are only six games ahead of the potent Nationals and are looking at short division round series against one of three team with some SCARY arms (especially in the case of San Fran or New York).
Let’s make it seven in a row tonight!
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Today’s Free Pick:
Los Angeles Dodgers -130 at Arizona Diamondbacks +120 (Total: 9)
Kenta Maeda (14-9, 3.28 ERA) vs Zack Greinke (12-6, 4.54 ERA)
All you need to know about Arizona’s season is contained in Zack Greinke’s statline and contract. A ton of big money laid out for some really subpar results. They have some talented bats with Lamb, Pollock and Goldschmidt, but the pitching has absolutely failed them this season and while you can rationalize some of the bullpen woes, it is tough to reconcile the 2016 performance of Greinke if you are a fan of the Snakes.
In his last six starts, three have been quality outings. Two have been absolute disasters with 17 runs crossing the plate in 6.1 innings combined. You never really know what you are going to get this season from Greinke, but even when he has been ‘good’ he has rarely been ‘great.’ His home ERA this season is over 5.00.
Kenta Maeda is the likely Game Three starter for the Dodgers, assuming they win the West. And as far as Game Three starters, a consistent one like Maeda isn’t a bad thing. He hasn’t been dominant, but he allowed two or three runs over six innings like clockwork. His last start to fall outside those parameters was two months ago – in Arizona, ironically. I expect him to fare a little better tonight and do what he usually does; give the Dodgers a fair chance to win the game if the bats hold up their end of the bargain.
Greinke will likely be motivated to face his former mates, but I am not sure it matters too much this season. Look for LA to give Maeda a run or two at least of Greinke and then for the disparate bullpens to do the rest. Los Angeles’s pen ranks second in ERA, 0.08 behind the Nats. The ‘Backs are tied for worst with Colorado, eclipsing the once historically-bad Reds pen with their own gas can of failure.
I get a starting pitching edge, a team with more to play for AND bullpen advantages of epic proportions and only have to lay -130 for it all? Yes please.