MLB Picks for August 1st – Reds Astros, Cardinals Brewers

The trading deadline has come and gone with a furious frenzy of activity. It still remains to be seen which deal will have the biggest impact, but it seems to be a stalemate between Hunter Pence’s move to Philadelphia and Carlos Beltran joining the Giants.

Beltran is the better player, but more than that, he fills a more dire need. Despite Philly’s .249 team batting average which ranks near the bottom of the league, it is hard to imagine that team, with Rollins, Utley, Victorino, Ibanez and Howard harder up for offense than the anemic Giants.

My sleeper pick for best pre-deadline move is one that happened a few weeks ago and has faded off the radar a bit, but is nonetheless a huge deal; K-Rod’s addition in Milwaukee. The NL Central remains baseball most-winnable division, and fortifying the bullpen with one of the best closers in baseball to pitch the eighth inning is a game changer.

Let’s see if we can keep up our recent winning ways and get to today’s free picks.

TODAY’S MLB PICKS:

Cincinnati Reds -125 @ Houston Astros +115 (Total: 8.5)
B. Arroyo (7-9, 5.58) vs. B. Norris (5-7, 3.39)

Reds’ GM Walt Jocketty announced loudly before the trade deadline that the Reds were “buyers.” Not sure if their four game home sweep at the hands of the Mets changed his mind, or if the prices were just too high, but the Reds ended up standing pat through the deadline. After the three-game winning sweep over the Giants, perhaps standing pat was the right move…

The Astros appear to be dead-set on losing 100 games this year. They already have the worst record in baseball, and have now unloaded Hunter Pence and two other starters. It will be interesting to see if any of their youngsters flourish now that the road to playing time has been cleared, or if this team hurdles deeper towards the worst record in franchise history.

The pitching matchup would seem to slightly favor the Astros tonight, though Bud Norris hasn’t been particularly sharp in his last three starts. The righty has gone 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 18 innings pitched. Arroyo hasn’t been real spectacular himself, going 0-2 with a 5.59 ERA – lousy, but right in line with his season averages.

The real winner tonight might ne the offenses. The Reds seemed to come out of their offensive funk over the weekend, piling on the runs in their three game sweep over the Giants. Granted, they didn’t face Lincecum or Cain, but they still averaged over 6 runs a game against some decent big-league pitching. Houston is an offensive mess, and gave away the little firepower they had remaining, but don’t be surprised if the major league leader in homeruns allowed finds a way for a few of these young ‘Stros to go yard.

The safe play tonight is the OVER 8.5, though I do also like the Reds to keep up their winning ways on the road tonight.

FREE PICK: Run TOTAL OVER 8.5 -105

St. Louis Cardinals +110 @ Milwaukee Brewers -120 (TOTAL: 8 )
C. Carpenter (6-7, 3.68) vs. Z. Greinke (8-4, 4.50)

The Brewers have been absolutely dominant at home this season at 39-14. Tonight the try to extend the majors-best mark facing former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter, who struggle mightily early in the season, but appears to be finding the mark.

One could make the same contention for another former Cy Young winner who has endured some 2011 struggles; opposing hurler Zach Greinke. Greinke,, hailed as the missing piece to the Brewers ‘hit a ton, give up a ton’ team woes has fallen a little short of expectations so far but still looms as an enticing talent and difference maker in the stretch run.

Greinke’s last three starts have been fabulous, with a 0.93 ERA and an identical sparkling 0.93 WHIP to match it. Carpenter hasn’t been far off, with a 2.70 ERA, but an impressive 2-0 record and 23.1 innings pitched. That is a good sign for Cardinal fans looking for the Carpenter of old, seeing him battle deep into ballgames the way only Roy Halliday and a few other starters in recent memory do.

St. Louis is 18-3 in Carpenter’s last 21 Monday starts; and while identifying Monday might be a little obscure of a statistic, it is indicative of his ability to get the Cards a win in their series openers. Milwaukee, on the other hand has been very stingy with the runs allowed of late, with the UNDER being 9-1 over the past ten games following a win, and 13-3 in the last 16 overall.

This one has “big game” and “pitcher’s duel” written all over it. I’m not sure it can live up to yesterdays Weaver v. Verlander classic, but it certainly could (ejections excluded…). I rarely bat games that I can’t wait to watch, but that is exactly what I’m doing tonight. The run total of 8 is inviting the UNDER bet, as this one has 3-2, 2-1 written all over it.

FREE PICK: Run TOTAL UNDER 8, -100

Chris Scheeren / Author