MLB Picks for June 27th – Reds Rays, Nationals Angels

Cincinnati Reds +100 @ Tampa Bay Rays -115 (Total: 7.5)
Johnny Cueto (5-2, 1.63 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (7-6, 3.09 ERA)

Johnny Cueto has emerged as the ace of the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff over the past month. He began the season on the disabled list, but since his return he has been simply spectacular, and shows no signs of slowing down. In his four June starts Cueto has posted a 3-0 record with a dazzling 0.96 ERA and still has yet to allow more than three runs in any of his 2011 starts.

The Rays will be matching the Reds with a young dynamic arm in Jeremy Hellickson. His 7-6 record on the season isn’t a fair indicator of just how well he has pitched on the season, with many of his losses coming in games where the Rays bats didn’t provide him much support. The Reds will have their work cut out for them at the Trop, where Hellickson has posted a solid 2.52 ERA.

The Reds, along with the Royals have the worst interleague record in 2011 with a mark of 3-9, though much of their struggles can be rationalized by having played one of the more challenging schedules. The Reds drew the AL East this season, which hasn’t treated them kindly (3-6), and suffered also suffered a three-game sweep against in-state rival and surprising Central Division contenders Cleveland.

Tampa Bay has been a pleasant surprise this season, hovering just 1.5 games out of the wildcard, despite having their roster plundered by free agency defections in the off season. Yet, oddly, they haven’t been very good at home, at 1 game under .500. and another odd stat, the Reds are 7-2 in their last nine games following a loss; perhaps mere odd coincidence, but I’ll take it as a sign of resiliency and focus. Couple that with their ace Cueto on the mound tonight, and I’ll take Cincy at a nice value pick at even money.

FREE PICK: Cincinnati to WIN +100

Washington Nationals +120 @ Los Angeles Angels -130 (Total: 7)
John Lannan (5-5, 3.40 ERA) vs. Ervin Santana (3-8, 4.22 ERA)

A 4.22 ERA is by no means All-Star caliber, but the Angeles Ervin Santana certainly deserves better than the 3-8 record he carries into Monday night’s ballgame. In his previous eight starts, Santana has received just eight runs of offensive support. It’s pretty tough to post a winning record when you have to throw a shutout each time you take the mound.

The Nationals will send the veteran lefty John Lannan to the mound, who will be looking to continue the dominant pitching he has displayed of late. In his six most recent starts, Lannan is 3-0 with a sparkling 1.15 ERA. The team behind him has been equally as good lately, winning 13 of their last 16 games. So much for the distraction of the odd Jim Riggleman resignation having any effect on the ballclub…

As hot as the Nationals have been, the Angels have been equally as cold in their home ballpark. The Halos have dropped 7 of their last 8 in Anaheim, though they did play well on their recent extended road trip, winning 6 of 10 out East.

I am big fan of value picks when betting MLB. Let’s face it, the bad teams win 40% of the time, and the great teams lose 40% of the time. The success is being able to pluck out the 20% in the middle. Therefore, when I see a favorable pitching trend at a plus-money line, I usually jump all over it. Such is the case with the Nats tonight at +120.

FREE PICK: Washington Nationals to WIN +120