The Braves bats let me down last night, surprisingly getting shut out by the Brewers and falling 5-0. It feel short of the under and handed me my second straight loss. With the regular season coming to a dramatic close, let’s turn it around today and gather some good momentum and bankroll heading into the postseason.
Today’s free pick focuses on a pivotal NL Central matchup. With the Cards holding a narrow two-game edge over both the Pirates and Reds (who close the season with three games in Cincinnati this weekend) every game is critical. All three won last night, leaving just five remaining games for someone to make a move and close the gap…However, all three are -150 or greater favorites, so it will take a surprising result to shake things up tonight…
New York Mets +170 at Cincinnati Reds -180 (Total: 7.5)
John Neise vs. Mike Leake
The Reds have been playing good baseball of late, winning 7 of their last 10, including two of three this weekend in Pittsburgh. And all anyone can talk about is the play of Billy Hamilton, who has had perhaps the most exciting two-week debut of any non-power hitter I can remember. He has 13 stolen bases in 13 attempts, including three on pitch-outs! He has more stolen bags than hits, and has scored the game-winning run in three games. He has become the most unique and potentially game-changing weapon in the National League.
And he likely won’t even be in the lineup tonight.
Despite the outcry of love for the electric Hamilton, the regular center field, Shin Soo-Choo (who knocked in the winning run last night in the 10th) is second in the league in OBP. It’s real hard to take that guy out of the lineup.
Also working in the Reds favor is the recent performance of Mike Leake. He had some struggles in the middle of the season and gave bettors a lot of OVER wins, but in his last three starts he’s been great, posting a 0.84 ERA and a 3-0 record. I expect him to pitch well against a pedestrian Mets lineup.
Meanwhile, Neise has been good as well since returning from the disabled list, posting an ERA just a shade over 3.00 in eight starts. However, I’d still take the Reds lineup and Mike Leake in this matchup. Not only are the Reds at home, where they’ve been excellent all season, but the game MEANS a lot more to them. They still have an outside chance at stealing this division and avoiding the dreaded one-game wildcard playoff, and I imagine Dusty Baker will manage accordingly.
I like Leake to continue his recent dominance before handing off the ball to the excellent bullpen. Minus 180 is a fairly steep lay-down, but I’ll take that and double up with some added value on the -1.5 runline.