We dropped a second straight pick last night as the Twins fell at home to Cleveland. But Minnesota’s loss was Kansas City’s game as the Royals claimed their first division crown since George Brett was locking down the hot corner. The Royals still have a little work to do to hold off the Blue Jays, but all things (except the injury to Holland) are lined up for a nice playoff run.
Meanwhile, the Twins took a big blow last night with the loss and are now in a tie with the Angels, both a game and a half back of the Astros for the final Wildcard spot. Lurking still within striking distance are the surging Cleveland Indians, now three games back, but I think they spend the long winter off-season bemoaning their slow start and thinking about what could have been had they not sputtered so mightily in April and May…
This sets up some enormous weekend series in the American League and none of them are head-to-head, so it will be scoreboard watching galore. The biggest series is the Rangers going to Houston. The Astros can sweep back into the divisional picture with a big weekend, but can just as easily be overtaken if they sputter against the Rangers yet again. You can bet Minnesota (@ Detroit), Cleveland (@ KC) and the Angels (@ Seattle) will all be very interested…
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Today’s Free Pick:
New York Mets at Cincinnati Reds (Total: 8)
Noah Syndergard vs. Anthony DeSclafani
The Reds send their “ace” rookie to the mound tonight to try to stop a five-game slide as his ballclub skids in for their worst record in decades. I put “ace” in quotes, not necessarily as a knock on DeSclafani, as he has been pretty good, but more as a joke about the Reds all-rookie rotation that is ace-less after the trades of Cueto and Leake as well as the off-season losses of Latos and Homer Bailey. They have already set a MLB record for most consecutive starts by rookie pitchers and it is a record that will continue to pile up until the end of the season.
The Mets will be looking to inch even closer to clinching the division crown and making the season-ending series with the Nats even more useless (and depressing for Nats fans). Tonight they will be bringing Thor’s hammer to the mound; Noah Syndergard. He has an odd recent statline with an ERA close to five but an ERA of just 0.86. That indicates a few mistake pitches and perhaps a little bad luck on balls in play. I expect he will fare well against a Reds team who has been tossing out some pretty pedestrian lineups in this lost season.
DeSclafani has been impressive lately. His splits are good, but his 19:1 strikeout to walk ratio is what really perks my attention. This will be the Mets first look at him and I think he will pitch well also. Yes, the park is hitter-friendly, but ballparks don’t seem to faze good pitchers. I like that we are getting an extra run of cushion tonight on the total at 8, and like this game to park safely under the TOTAL. The Reds have scuffled at the plate most of the season and the Mets, for all the hype, have only averaged 2.9 runs over their last ten games.
I like both pitchers to fare well and for the score to remain in the 3-2 range.