We took a 1-2 ATS day in MLB, but even though we took a pair of losses, I’m feeling pretty encouraged about the early MLB season. Aside from the fact I’m off to a 17-5 start, I like that the losses have all been right on track. Last night the Blue Jays scored three runs in the bottom of a meaningless 9th inning to push the total narrowly over, and the Cubs vs. Pirates game swung on a bullpen implosion by the Cubs who allowed five runs in the seventh after Travis Wood left the game with one runner on base and a 4-0 lead. He ended up with a no-decision in the Cubs 5-4 loss. There are some major bullie issues in Chicago, and I’m not sure their offense can do enough to cover up the stink. It looks like yet another 90+ loss season in the Windy City.
The fact that Milwaukee is off to the best start in baseball doesn’t make things any easier. Add them as contenders (granted it is still very early) to St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati and you could be looking at the best division in baseball – very under the radar, but possible.
Let’s get back on track and kick off the weekend series with a pair of winners.
Miami Marlins -119 at Philadelphia Phillies +112 (Total: 6.5)
Jose Fernandez (2-0, 0.71 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (0-1, 3.86 ERA)
The Marlins haven’t won a road game yet this season. Philadelphia hasn’t won at home. Something has to give tonight, and fortunately for each team, they aren’t facing the Nationals who were the sweeping cause of the various winlessness. The Marlins have to feel good any time their young ace takes the mound, and he has begun 2014 exactly how he ended his rookie campaign; with dominance. He has allowed one run so far this season and earned the win in both starts.
The Phillies will counter with A.J. Burnett who has been serviceable, but doesn’t appear to be the Phillies answer to getting back into contention in the NL East. The Marlins have overachieved a bit with the bats so far this season, though the recent sweep by the Nationals got them a glimpse at some big-time pitching and they mustered just one and zero runs in two of the losses (the other game they lose 10-7). Burnett is somewhere in between the Strasburg and Gio dominance and the Zimmerman struggles, so I expect them to be able to score just enough to let Fernandez do the rest.
Tampa Bay Rays -107 at Cincinnati Reds -101 (Total: 7)
David Price (1-0, 4.05 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (0-1, 1.93 ERA)
David Price has a win, Cueto ha a loss, but through two starts, there is little doubt who has pitched better. Cueto has fanned 17 batters and allowed just a .160 batting average in fourteen innings pitched. Tonight he gets to return home to face a Rays lineup that hasn’t seen him pitch since 2011. Meanwhile, the same condition applies for Price, who has the advantage of facing a lineup that has struggled against left-handed pitching. I’m not a huge interleague fan, but tonight’s pitching matchup is worth tuning in to see.
The baseball world is still buzzing over the base running display Billy Hamilton put on Wednesday. If he can continue to get on base, even just once or twice, that could be enough to steal the Reds a win at home against a good starting pitcher. I like Price and think he will pitch well, but I like getting near even-money with Johnny Cueto pitching at home. Give me the Redlegs tonight in Cincinnati.