Max Scherzer delivered last night, missing bats with his usual frequency and stymieing the Cardinals offense under the spotlight of ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. The win gave us a three-game skid snapping victory. It was our only non-underdog victory of the last week (the other four were all the ‘dog) but sometimes you have to take the free money when it is offered up. Max Scherzer, with THAT All Star loaded lineup behind him is a must-play anytime the line gets as slim as it was last night.
Speaking of All Stars, let the snub talk begin! There are plenty to choose from, and the NL Final Vote will be an interesting one. Justin Turner is the obvious pick, batting .380 and leading the best team in the National League to a stunning first half start. But what about Kris Bryant? It really depends on your personal school of thought. Do his numbers merit inclusion over Turner (or even Anthony Rendon)? No. But does last year, post-All-Star game count? He is the reigning NL MVP playing on the reigning World Series champs. Does that count for anything???
From a pitcher’s perspective, I don’t see how Alex Wood isn’t on this roster (and he likely will be as next weekend’s starters begin to scratch one by one, ehm, Clayton Kershaw). I know he spent the early part of the season working out of the pen, but DUDE, 9-0 with a 1.86 ERA is pretty overwhelming…
Let’s start the final week of the unofficial “first half” of the season off in style, by notching a second straight winner.
Today’s MLB Pick:
New York Mets +164 vs. Washington Nationals -174 (Total: 8.5)
Stephen Matz (2-1, 2.67 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (9-2, 3.51 ERA)
The last meeting between these two was a missed opportunity for the Mets, whose dreams of climbing back in the NL East race now hinge squarely on the next three days. The enter with some good momentum, having won four of their last five while the Nats dropped four of seven to close the gap to 9 ½ games. If they fail to take two of three (or sweep) it is nearly impossible to see them climbing all the way back in the race, even with half a season left.
They likely feel good with Stephen Matz on the mound. Sure, they’d love to have their more recognizable studs healthy, but Matz has been excellent since rejoining the rotation after injury, posting an ERA in the mid-twos over four starts. However, his one tough outing was against the same Nationals, who will get a second look at him tonight. He allowed four runs in seven innings against Washington’s potent lineup. Matz has ditched his slider after his elbow issues, but it seems to have taken away some of his strikeout ability. He enters today with just 18 Ks against 7 walks. He is going to need to miss some bats to keep the All-Star laden Nats at bay.
Meanwhile, Stephen Strasburg has been churning along with a 9-2 record but his last four starts haven’t been so great. Strasburg has allowed 15 runs in just 22.1 innings, despite a bunch of strikeouts. Some of that might be a little rough luck; baseball – as his WHIP is still an excellent 1.10. I like him to bounce back against a familiar foe and look better. He is 8-4 with a 2.64 ERA in his career against the rival Mets.
There isn’t a ton of value in the lofty -174 line tonight, but I like Strasburg to come out strong and for Matz to have some troubles with the powerful lineup that scores more than any other squad in the National League. The runline is a more daring play, but provides some nice value at +115.
There is also the consideration of how AWFUL these two bullpens are; the Nationals own a 5.09 bullpen ERA, the worst in the National League. The Mets are next-to-last at 4.87. That affords the opportunity for some late runs to juice up the total.
I rarely have two plays on the same game, but there is some value in each. I’ll double up tonight with the Nats on the runline and the Total going OVER 8.5.
Today’s MLB Picks: WASHINGTON NATIONALS RUNLINE (-1.5) +115 & RUN TOTAL OVER 8.5