There’s reason for the National League to begin to accept a feeling of resignation; the Philadelphia Phillies. Despite the absolutely torrid play of Milwaukee and the daunting pitching of the defending Champs, San Francisco, the league appears to be comfortably in the Phillies possession. Cliff Lee turned in his second consecutive outing without allowing a run, this time ‘only’ lasting eight innings, in last night’s win over the Dodgers.
With the win, Philadelphia is on pace to win 105 games, the most in more than a decade, and perilously close to flirting with elite territory. Since 1910, only two National League teams have won 108 or more games; the 1975 Big Red Machine and the 1986 Mets. Considering the Lee looks like the pitcher who owned the month of June in his last two starts and the fact that the Phills are 10-1 since acquiring Hunter Pence, there seems to be no derailing the Phillies from joining illustrious regular-season ranks.
Of course, it won’t be until October that legacies are defined…
Let’s roll on to today’s free picks:
TODAY’S MLB PICKS:
Detroit Tigers +120 @ Cleveland Indians -140 (Total: 8 )
R. Porcello (11-6, 4.49) vs. U. Jimenez (0-0, 9.00)
Ubaldo Jimenez will be looking to have a slightly less auspicious introduction to the Cleveland faithful than he did in his first outing. In his debut, he gave up five runs (and walked three) in just five innings. Even more disheartening, he wsa staked to a five-run lead and was unable to hold it; the Tribe eventually losing 8-7.
To be frank, his name is a little bit larger than his production. He was always hailed as an amazing talent, on the cusp of breaking through before last season, when his sparkling first three months earned him a coveted All-Star starting assignment. However, take that magical three months away, and you are left with a relatively average resume. Before the trade this season, Jimenez was just 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA for the Rockies.
This is an enormous series for the Indians, as they look to get closer to the team that stromed past them in the AL Central last month, Detroit.
Based on the numbers, this should be a relatively high scoring affair, and the OVER is at just 8 runs. The over is 8-2 in Porcello’s last 10 starts. However, Porcello himself has held the opposition to a 3.10 ERA in his last three outings, and with a roster full of batters getting their first glimpse at Ubaldo, the potential for a strong performance is significantly higher.
So here is the stat that should serve as the fulcrum of the wagering teeter-totter; the Indians are 12-0 in their last 12 visits from the Tigers. As in, undefeated. Perfect. Add in the fact, they have won 8 of 10 overall, and it looks like the Tribe just has Detroit’s number. Tonight they are at home, with their prize free agent acquisition on the hill… it all adds up to some strong signs to back the Tribe tonight.
Kansas City Royals +125 @ Tampa Bay Rays -135 (TOTAL: 8.5)
F. Paulino (1-4, 3.56) vs. W. Davis (8-7, 4.55)
Kansas City has struggled mightily offensively all season long, which is good news for hot-and-cold starting pitcher Wade Davis. The Royals have scored just 11 runs in their last five games (average of 2.2 per) and have mustered just one run in their last three games against the Rays. Ouch.
The Rays own offense, anemic by normal standards (Evan Longoria is hitting .232 in the three-hole, for crying out loud!), seems down-right Big Red Machine in comparison to Kansas City’s. And for some reason, the offense seems to ratchet it up a notch with Davis on the hill, providing 21 runs of support in their last 24 games. If they get anything close to that tonight, this one should be a snoozer.
Add the two together, and it sounds like a low-scoring recipe to me. In fact, the UNDER is 20-7-1 in these two teams last 28 games against each other. I like the UNDER 8.5 tonight, but also have no issue withy taking the Rays at only -135 to win.