MLB Picks for August 22nd – Red Sox vs Rangers, Mets vs Phillies

The weekend was kind to a few of baseball’s have-nots (for example the Nats taking a three game series off the Phillies), but for the large part, the rich got richer as the margins in the divisional races continued to widen.

Just three weeks ago, it looked like both Central Division races were going to go down to the wire. However, in light of Milwaukee’s 22-3 run and both Texas and Detroit sweeping series from their closest competitors, it looks like all eight playoff teams might be able to start setting up their rotations with weeks to spare. It doesn’t make for the most thrilling September, but it does set the stage for a thrilling October.

Let’s get to today’s free picks…

TODAY’S MLB PICKS:

Boston Red Sox +130 @ Texas Rangers -140 (Total: 9)
E. Bedard (4-8, 3.44) vs. C.J. Wilson (12-5, 3.20)

The Red Sox remain in a virtual dead-lock with the Yankees, while the Rangers have opened up a pretty comfortable lead. However, both have little to worry about as far as reservations for October, as the nearest wildcard competitor is a full eight games back. If the season ended today, this would be a preview of the opening round matchup; and what a matchup it would be.

The Rangers throw CJ Wilson tonight, who has emerged into a legitimate frontline starter after flourishing in the shadow of Cliff Lee last Fall. Wilson has been sharp in his last three outings, posting a 1.88 ERA and a 2-0 record. Texas has owned this matchup all season as well, outscoring the Sox 26-11 in a three game sweep earlier this year in Arlington. In fact, the Rangers have taken 9 of 11 against Boston overall.

It will be up to recently-acquired Eric Bedard to hold the high-powered Ranger offense in check. Bedard has pitched well enough to earn a victory (even though he has none) since coming over to Boston. In his three starts he has allowed three or less runs in each of them. That’s been the story of Bedard’s season; pitching well enough to win but never seeming to earn one. You’d think that would change with the BoSox offense now behind him, but so far, it hasn’t.

I like Texas at home tonight. They are throwing their ace and they have owned Boston, particularly at home. Add in the advantage of having faced Bedard a number of times this season already as a Mariner, and things start to tilt Texas’s direction. I’d be inclined more towards the under than the over, but my official pick is Texas to WIN.

FREE PICK: Texas Rangers to WIN -140

New York Mets +180 @ Philadelphia Phillies -200 (TOTAL: 7.5)
D. Gee (11-4, 3.92) vs. C. Lee (13-7, 2.82)

The Phillies should arrive home focused, coming off a rare series defeat to the Washington Nationals. That said, the Phillies still have 108 wins clearly in the sights and are on pace for the best National League regular season record in 25 years. The Mets meanwhile enter losers of 9 of 11 and losers of 7 straight against teams with a winning record. The Phillies have won 8 of 11 against New York overall, and 4 of 6 this season at home.

There really isn’t too much to say about Cliff Lee. Take away his July foibles and you would be witnessing a Bob Gibson-like season for the ages. When at the peak of his game, Lee has been simply unhittable. In his last three starts he has posted a 3-0 record with a staggering 0.75 ERA and an even more staggering 0.75 WHIP. No one is getting on base and no one is scoring against Cliff Lee these days. That doesn’t bode well for a banged-up Mets squad.

For the Mets, there are late rumors that Gee will not be tonight’s starter, and will instead send Jonathan Neise (11-10, 3.78 ERA) to the mound. That makes it even less likely they are able to stymie Lee, but regardless of tonight’s starter, I don’t see the Mets scratching out any offense. I like Philly tonight, and am willing to lay the 1.5 to get the odds shaved down a bit to a more flat number.

FREE PICK: Philadelphia Phillies -1.5 (-110)

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Chris Scheeren / Author