We got smoked last night along with Ryan Vogelsong, whose reunion with his mates in San Francisco ended up a pleasant one in the won/loss column, but not on his personal statline. The Giants scored plenty of runs off their World Series champion teammate, but the Pirate offense scored more and provided the cushion need for Vogelsong to earn his third win of the season despite allowing four runs in five and two thirds innings.
More troubling for the Giants are the struggles of Matt Moore. Many expected him to revert back to All Star (or close) form with a change of scenery and league, but last night Moore allotted five runs in six innings and has yet to be excellent in his three outings as a Giant. And perhaps more importantly, the Giants lost and are back even with the Dodgers in the loss column.
Aside from the continuation of the Giants and Pirates series, no other NL series has head-to-head playoff implications, though the Dodgers trip to Philly could be trickier than expected meeting a better-than-people-realize team with a good hurler tonight in Vince Velasquez. In fact, let’s head out to Philly for today’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Los Angeles Dodgers -160 at Philadelphia Phillies +150 (Total: 8.5)
Kenta Maeda (11-7, 3.31 ERA) vs. Vince Velasquez (8-4, 3.94 ERA)
Vince Velasquez started the season like an All Star (prior to his DL stint), and with he and Nola’s hot start, the Phillies followed suit to a plus-.500 start and have used that early cushion to withstand some serious swoons to make it to mid-August on pace for their best season in quite a while. Velasquez hasn’t been All Star-quality since, but he is still a nice piece to build a young rotation around. He was an ABSOLUTE disaster against the Dodgers in his last start, allowing nine earned runs in just four innings. However, in his six starts since returning to action prior to the disaster at Chavez Ravine, he allowed just 13 runs. There are many reports he was bothered by a blister in that game – I know, excuses, excuses – but it does bode well for a bounce-back effort tonight.
Meanwhile, Kenta Maeda had a similar Cy Young-like start to the season before also getting hurt and regressing slightly to the mean. In his last ten starts, he only has four quality starts, but most of them are due to a pretty tight pitch count and short leash. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs but three times, but generally exits in the sixth or earlier.
As a fair warning to fade my upset play, the Dodgers have won five straight with Maeda on the mound and the Phils have dropped four in a row with Velasquez. I like the home field edge and the revenge factor working tonight for a nice fat plus-money line. He is 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA at home, so most of his troubles have come on the road. If he can hang up some zeros tonight, the Phillies have a good chance to grab the upset.
Either way, the VALUE is strong with Velasquez at home at +150, so I’m willing to roll the dice tonight.