MLB Picks and Predictions for April 18th

Grady Sizemore returned in a big way today, homering in his season debut, as the league’s most surprising team continued their sizzling start. The Cleveland Indians sit in first place in the AL Central at 11-4 after finishing off a three-game weekend sweep of the Baltimore Orioles.

The Indians fly out tonight to take on their ‘most surprising’ counterpart, Kansas City (10-5) for a three game set that, for now, will determine who is out in front in the Central. I’m not sure the Twins or Tigers are getting too nervous yet, but it is abundantly clear that the American League Central is going to be an interesting race all season.

Let’s get to today’s picks…

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Today’s Free Major League Baseball Picks:

Chicago White Sox @ Tampa Bay Rays -125 (Total: 7.5)
Edwin Jackson (2-0, 2.89 ERA) v. David Price (1-2, 3.92 ERA)

The start to the season was not kind for the Rays, as they scored just 11 runs in their first nine games, en route to a 2-7 start. However, since then they have actually played very good baseball, winning five straight – thanks largely in part to four consecutive quality starts from their pitching staff.

There is reason to be confident with staff ace David Price on the hill. Despite an ‘un-Price-like’ start to the season, expect the lefty to be on point at home against the ChiSox. Price looked more like the 2010 All-Star game starter in his last start in Boston, allowing just two runs in 7 2/3 innings earning his first win on the season.

The Sox took two of three last weekend from Tampa in Chicago, the Rays will be looking to return the favor this week in the Trop. Chicago has dropped 4 of 5, averaging a meager 3.4 runs per game. Facing an all-star lefty in his home park isn’t the best prescription for an offensive rebirth.

I like the Rays at home to win, and would not be opposed to taking them at +165 on the runline either.

PICK: Tampa Bay Rays -125 to WIN

San Diego Padres @ Chicago Cubs -150
Tim Stauffer (0-1, 4.80 ERA) vs. Carlos Zambrano (2-0, 6.11 ERA)

Zambrano might be 2-0, but don’t be fooled into thinking like he is dealing like the perennial Cy Young candidate of 2006, 2007. With an ERA of over 6.00 and a WHIP of over 1.50, it hasn’t been pretty – but it has resulted in a few wins.

Stauffer has been even rougher, and doesn’t have two wins to show for it. His 1.89 WHIP, coupled with Zambrano’s struggles early mean this game could have the potential for some fireworks.

However, if there was ever an offense to help your pitching get right, it is the San Diego Padres. The Pads have scored an average of 2.7 runs over their last 10 contests, and are clearly missing the departed big bat of now-Boston slugger, Adrian Gonzalez. And it is imperative Zambrano does get right, because the Cubs bullpen has been awful, with a combined ERA in the high-4’s.

The Cubs have had a starter pitch into the 7th inning only once in their last ten games, but I think Zambrano will provide the bullpen with a much needed respite; shutting down the meager San Diego line-up and earning his third win of the season – this time even deserving it…

PICK: Chicago Cubs to WIN -150

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Chris Scheeren / Author

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