The second half of the season starts tonight - can we start it off with a nice underdog winner in an unexpected place??
Welcome back! After nice week off and a thrilling Home Run Derby and tense All Star Game, we are back in full effect and ready to start the second half of the season off in style.
MLB isn’t wasting any time getting back to action with all 30 days squaring up today, including some great matchups between two of the lesser-heralded league leaders in ERA with Brandon McCarthy and Dan Straily hooking up in the Dodgers trip to Miami, Chicago looking to shake off a miserable opening half of the season in Baltimore, and a good Cardinals/Pirates pitching matchup between Mike Leake and Gerrit Cole.
All the National League divisions commence with commanding division leaders; Washington, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles open with 9.5, 5.5, and 7.5 game leads respectively, though Milwaukee ‘feels’ the most tenuous in more ways than math. Arizona opens with a staggering 9.5 games clearance in the Wild Card race and even Colorado has a 7.5 game cushion. Can any of the glut of team hovering well in the distance challenge?? Is it too much to hope that Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Miami or even New York or Cincinnati can make life interesting???
Let’s dive in to the second half of the season Charlie Hustle-style; head-first, and see if we can start with a winner. Welcome back – let’s Play Ball!
Today’s MLB Pick:
Los Angeles Dodgers -120 at Miami Marlins -114 (Total: 8.5)
Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 3.12 ERA) vs. Dan Straily (7-4, 3,31 ERA)
Dan Straily has very quietly been one of the better pitchers in the non-Kershaw/Scherzer universe in the National League in 2017. He enters ranked 4th in the league in WHIP at a slim 1.05, and has delivered quality starts in six of his last eight outings, with one missed QS coming only because Mattingly gave him a quick hook in the 6th after throwing 94 pitches. He has walked only four batters in his last seven starts, while still striking out a respectable 32 batters for a blistering 8:1 K/BB Ratio.
Not many non-baseball fans know who this guy is, but the quiet acquisition of Straily from the Reds in the off-season is a big reason WHY the Marlins are still hanging around in the glut of pseudo-contenders in the National League.
The Dodgers’ Brandon McCarthy has been excellent as well. The 34-year old enters tonight ranked among league leaders in WHIP (1.13), ERA and has an excellent win/loss record at 6-3. But I have seen a few troubling signs that a possible regression to the mean is coming, and they have been largely masked by the fact the Dodgers are the runaway best team in the National League. He has walked nine batters and struck out just 11 in his last five starts for a nearly one-to-one ratio. He is averaging just over five innings a start (barely) in his last six outings and just LOOKS like a pretty average guy on the mound.
Couple that with the fact the Dodgers, for all their “best team on Earth” bonafides, have been largely average on the road this season. Their road mark is just four games over .500. The Marlins has won six straight games with Straily on the mound and entered the break playing good baseball, going 5-0 ATS before the Midsummer Classic.
They are a nice sneaky underdog play; fading the obvious favorite in reputation when the numbers actually indicate Miami should have the slight edge.
Today’s MLB Pick: MIAMI MARLINS TO WIN +114