MLB Picks for August 8th – Braves Marlins, Phillies Dodgers

The weekend was highlighted by a pair of series that could very well be a preview of what we might be treated to in late October. The Phillies and Giants picked up right where they left off last fall; contentiously. The Phillies came out on top in the series, but the Giants 3-1 win on Sunday showed that not only were they unafraid to bring the fight to the Fightin’ Phils, they could also beat them on the field with one of the top-line starters on the hill.

Meanwhile, in Boston, the Red Sox finally snapped the Yankees week-long win streak,
And also provided an indication they might be primed to hold off the charging Yanks for the rest of the Fall. The series was a tight one, but stealing the rubber-match in extra innings by beating Mariano Rivera has to have Sox fans smiling. Not that it looks like it will matter too much, as the runner-up in the East still has a comfortable lead over Anaheim/Texas in the wildcard battle.

Monday’s games don’t quite have the sizzle of Yankees v. Sox or Lincecum v. Oswalt, but there are a few choice lines rip for the picking tonight. So without further adieu, let’s get to tonight’s free picks.

TODAY’S MLB PICKS:

Atlanta Braves -115 @ Florida Marlins +105 (Total: 8.5)
D. Lowe (6-10, 4.86) vs. B. Hand (1-3, 2.86)

Just on name recognition alone, it would be pretty easy to lay the -115 and back the surging Atlanta Braves tonight in Miami. But, as is always my rule, when something looks great from a distance, it behooves the smart wagerer to dig a little deeper into the numbers and trends.

Here’s one that jumps right out at me. The under is 13-3 in the last 16 contests between these two teams, and perhaps even more startling is the fact the Marlins are averaging a scant 1.3 runs per contest over their last six meetings (Atlanta has won 5 of them).

Derrick Lowe has struggled lately, losing his past three starts and is coming off his worst outing of the season, giving me some slight pause on the under 8.5 total tonight. However, this is a ten year vet who has yet to endure a 4-game losing streak in his entire career. He has also pitched well against the Marlins this year, giving up just one run in 12 1/3 innings.

For the Marlins, Hand made his major league debut against the Braves two months ago; a sparkling debut allowing only a solo homerun to Alex Gonzalez to cross the plate. In his past four starts he has yet to allow more than two earned runs in any game.

Given the pitching matchups, and the recent history of these two teams, I like the UNDER 8.5 total tonight, and am making it my official selection.

FREE PICK: TOTAL UNDER 8.5 (-110)

Philadelphia Phillies -160 @ Los Angeles Dodgers +150 (TOTAL: 6)
R. Halladay (14-4, 2.55) vs. H. Kuroda (7-13, 2.96)

This is another matchup where one needs to look no further than the pitching matchups to get a good wagering edge. For starters, anytime Halliday takes the mound, you can expect the opponent to stay pretty low in the run column. Halladay has won his last three starts, posting a 0.74 WHIP in the process. That’s called domination.

Kuroda hasn’t fared too much worse this season, other than in the win column. It’s a little unfair to have an ERA under 3.00 and still have 13 losses. Alas, such is life in Dodger blue this season. Kuroda has an ERA of just 1.86 over his last three outings, and has a 1-2 record to show for it. That’s some tough luck.

Philly’s offense has been clicking since Hunter Pence came to town, but I like Kuroda in his home spacious ballpark of Dodger Stadium to keep things reasonable close.

If you want to wager on a team, you can get decent value with the Dodgers at +160, but I am reluctant to bet against Halliday (or Cliff Lee) for the rest of this season. You can say I humbly learned my lesson. So tonight, I’m betting on Halliday; but in a less conventional sense, by taking the UNDER 6.5.

FREE PICK: Run TOTAL UNDER 6.5 (-115)

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Chris Scheeren / Author