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Dodgers vs. Pirates MLB Pick – August 21st

We snapped the nastiest skid of the season yesterday with a relatively comfortable 4-1 winner with Gio Gonzalez and his near-league leading ERA improving in the process. I’m still a little miffed at why that line was so slim, but am glad to have a value play and a winner under my belt as we embark on a new week – and hopefully a much more positive one overall.

There was some other great action yesterday across the National League as we are finally seeing some playoff drama emerging. For the entirety of the summer, the only question mark was when the Cubs would turn it on and overtake Milwaukee. Washington and Los Angeles had run away and hid, and the Rockies and Diamondbacks had separated enough to where there were no real immediate pursuers to consider. However, with just six weeks to go in the season, we finally have a little drama. The Brewers took care of the Rockies 8-4 in Colorado to remain just two games back of the Cubs, but close to 3 ½ back of the Rockies in the wild-card chase. The Brewers – everyone’s pick to fade all summer long – are also just 2 ½ back of Arizona.

We have a big week of action starting tonight. The Pirates try to keep meager hopes alive but have a tall task hosting the still-record pacing Dodgers, and the D’Backs and Brewers will try to one-up the other on the road against a pair of struggling teams, the Mets and Giants respectively.

Let’s get to work and see if we can start a little winning momentum…

Today’s MLB Pick:

Los Angeles Dodgers -159 at Pittsburgh Pirates +149 (Total: 8.5)
Alex Wood (14-1, 2.30 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (10-8, 4.04 ERA)

The Dodgers lost yesterday as Justin Verlander was masterful in Detroit, allowing just two hits, one of them a clanking-the-foul-pole home run to former teammate Curtis Granderson. I was actually at the game live, and Verlander was FILTHY. The ovation for Granderson was telling as well – how much the Tiger fans appreciated him, and how much they are longing for the days of four or five years ago…

Alas, the Dodgers lost for just the tenth time in sixty-two games – an insane streak – so backing them to falter twice in a row seems foolish, no matter how excellent Gerrit Cole has been of late. And the Pirates former multiple time All-Star has been finding his groove. Cole is 7-2 with a 3.26 ERA in his past 12 starts, though he allowed four runs in six innings in a no-decision at Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Pirates have won seven of his last ten outings, including six of his last eight. He has delivered three straight quality starts at home as well.

Meanwhile, Alex Wood has been excellent everywhere. His dream season has just a single blemish, and he is 6-0 with a 1.72 ERA in nine road starts this season. Opponents are hitting a meager .201 off him on the road and he has a lifetime 2.26 ERA against the Pirates in seven appearances (six starts). It is hard to see the Buccos mustering much offense this evening.

But it is also realistic to see Cole fare well – at least well enough to hold this game under the 8.5 mark. This has a 3-2 feel to it, especially given the Dodgers lights-out bullpen.

Today’s MLB Pick: RUN TOTAL UNDER 8.5

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