Baseball is back and I am ready to get back to work! When we broke, we were riding a nice 11-2 ATS run full of lots of run total plays and underdogs with heavy value. Hopefully we can resume in much the same fashion and make the second half every bit as good as the first.
At the midpoint of the season, the National League has basically divided itself into the two buckets most of us anticipated; the contenders and the others. And the teams in each bucket are largely s predicted as well. The Nats, Mets, Cubs, Pirates, Cards, Giants and Dodgers are all contending. The Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Reds, Rockies, D’Backs and Padres are all who we thought they were. The only team flittering in the space between are the Marlins, who perhaps deserve more credit as contenders given their record is the same as the Mets (with far less injury concerns and with Stanton as yet to produce as expected) and have a BETTER record than the Cards and Pirates. The only reason I give them their own category is that all the other IN and OUT teams were basically as predicted.
So is there any value in looking for one of the teams to move in a different direction? Well, my first favorite is St. Louis. Their run differential suggests they should be one of the best teams in baseball. Their 46-42 record does not. Look for the redbirds to make a surge. Also, the Dodgers dodged a TON of starting pitching injuries and still have 50 wins at the break. Look for them to contend with Giants and close the gap.
Let’s get today’s action and dive in immediately with a big game between two contenders.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Miami Marlins +128 vs. St. Louis Cardinals -138 (Total: 8)
Wei-Yin Chen (5-3, 4.83 ERA) vs. Jaime Garcia (6-6, 4.01 ERA)
Since I slighted the Fish in the intro, I suppose it is only fair that we properly acknowledge them as a contender to open this pick. They have good young pitching, a talented lineup, and the Mets have major injury woes all over the roster. So, if the Marlins can get out of the gate strong in the second half, they could very well contend to the end of the season.
I faded Wei-Yin Chen in his last outing and paid for it. However, he is still a guy entering with an ERA approaching five and only two quality starts in his last six outings. Tonight he is facing one of the more talented offenses in the National League. Granted, the Cards have oddly struggled at home, but I think that might be a first half anomaly that will regress to the mean by season’s end.
Meanwhile, Jaime Garcia has been emblematic of the Cardinals season. Lots of talent, lots of promise, but mediocre results. He enters with a .500 record and an ERA right at four. However, unlike the rest of his mates, he has been far better at home, shrinking his ERA to the low threes and offering up a WHIP of just 1.15. That bodes well for a Cardinals win tonight. Look for Garcia to be sharper then Chen and for the Cardinals to start the second half of the season off with a home winner.