Today is exactly what makes sports wagering great. Glancing over the schedule in Major League Baseball for the next three days, with the exception of the Giants – Braves series, there really aren’t any matchups to get excited about. For the most part, it is very good teams against very bad ones, or two teams with little chance of the postseason testing out some minor league talent to see where they stand for 2012.
However, for us savvy handicappers, the lack of postseason drama doesn’t mean there is a lack of opportunities to profit. In fact, tonight offers up several lines that are ripe for the picking. So without further adieu, let’s move on to tonight’s free picks.
TODAY’S MLB PICKS:
San Francisco Giants +145 @ Atlanta Braves -155 (Total: 7)
M. Bumgarner (7-11, 3.53) vs. T. Hudson (12-7, 3.18)
The Braves may be distant in the Phillies rear-view mirror, but everyone else in the NL is equally far back in the Braves Wildcard-view mirror, all but guaranteeing the Braves will be playing some October baseball (as is pretty par for the course in ATL). They host the Giants for three big games, especially for the Giants who are trying to snap a recent slump that has seen them fall a game behind division-leading Arizona by one game.
The Giants primary issue has been scoring runs. Yesterday was just the third time in 16 games they tallied three or more runs. Despite the addition of Carlos Beltran, seen as the answer to Giant prayers, the offense has continued to sputter futilely. Trying to get right on the road against Tim Hudson may not be exactly what the Giants had in mind.
Hudson has been solid all year, but has been especially dominant in his last three starts, all wins, posting a tiny 1.69 ERA and a WHIP of just 0.84. The Braves in general have been stingy at home this season, with an ERA of just 3.02. Add in a struggling offense, and it seems like a pretty strong trend in the Braves favor.
Baumgarner has been good all season, despite a losing record. An ERA of 3.53 merits better than a 7-11 record, but such is life this season in San Francisco where the run support has been sparse. It is evidenced by a slightly obscure, but also very telling trend; the Giants are 3-10 in their last 13 games against a starting pitcher with a WHIP under 1.15. That tells me there is a lot of pressure on Baumgarner tonight to throw a gem, because it is unlikely his team provides him more than 2 or 3 runs tonight.
The Braves are 10-4 in Hudson’s last 14 starts at home against a team with a winning record. I think he runs it to 11-4 tonight. That’s my official pick, Braves to WIN.
FREE PICK: Atlanta Braves to WIN -155
Los Angeles Dodgers +145 @ Milwaukee Brewers -145 (TOTAL: 8.5)
T. Lilly (7-12, 4.71) vs. R. Wolf (9-8, 3.48)
Talk about two teams heading in opposite directions. The Milwaukee Brewers have absolutely caught fire, and they are leaving the rest of the NL Central in their wake. They own the best home record in the majors at 44-15. They’ve won 9 of 10, averaging over 6 runs per contest, while allowing just 2.6. That’s domination.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, are riding out the string, waiting for a tumultuous and disappointing season to mercifully end. By the numbers, their team batting average is only .004 lower than Milwaukee, and their team ERA is actually lower, but yet they are mired ten games under .500 and long-gone in the post-season race.
Lilly has been disappointing this season, though his last three starts merited better than the 1-2 record he was saddled with. He gave the Dodgers 19+ innings at an ERA of 2.37 with a WHIP of 0.84. He just didn’t get the run support needed to earn the win (a common theme in the NL West this season).
The Brewers send Randy Wolf to the mound, victorious in his last three starts, and firmly in control in each outing. The Brew Crew has reeled off 21 of their last 27 games, and now they get to stay home for a three game set against an offensively-challenged ballclub ten games under .500. Baseball is a crazy game where anything can happen, but it is getting pretty close to over for everyone else in the NL Central.
I like the Brewers tonight to win, and to win easily. With the exception of their last two narrow-escapes against Pittsburgh, the Brewers had won 9 of their last 10 games by more than one run. If you want to play the runline tonight and get a little better line (+130), I say go for it. However, my official pick tonight is Milwaukee to WIN.
FREE PICK: Milwaukee Brewers to WIN (-155)