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MLB Picks for May 17th – Phillies Cardinals, Cubs Reds

Chicago Cubs +115 @ Cincinnati Reds -135 (Total: 8 )
Matt Graza (2-4 4.17 ERA) v. Edinson Volquez (3-1, 5.74 ERA)

The Reds are the hottest team in baseball right now (along with Detroit), having won eight of ten. It is no coincidence that they have returned to their winning ways once the got two of their key starting pitchers, Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey, healthy, as well as the return of cornerstone Scott Rolen.

Last night they took advantage of a seven-run 6th inning to knock out Carlos Zambrano, and earn a 7-4 comeback win over the Cubs.

The Reds are 9-2 in their last eleven games against the Cubbies, posting a 46-run scoring advantage over them in that time. But, before you go rushing to wager the money line, four of the games have been one-run affairs, the overall numbers slightly inflated by the 14-3 Fourth of July pasting the Reds laid on them up in Wrigley last year.

Tonight, the Reds send Volquez to the mound, an oddity in that his record (3-1) is excellent, while his ERA (5.74) is dismal. For Volquez, the biggest issue has been control. His WHIP of 1.79 over his last three starts has led to the majority of his troubles.

I like the Reds, despite Volquez’s struggles, primarily because of their recent history, and the fact their bats have caught fire at home. The runline of 8 tells you Vegas still has respect for Volquez’s potential to dominate, as well as Matt Garza’s potential to bring no-hit stuff on any given night. However, this season’s numbers suggest anything but a pitcher’s duel.

I like the over tonight, and wouldn’t be surprised if we have a 5-3 or 6-4 game by the fifth of sixth inning.

PICK: Run Total OVER 8 runs (-110)

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Philadelphia Phillies +125 @ St. Louis Cardinals -145 (Total: 7)
Roy Oswalt (3-1, 3.33 ERA) vs. Jaime Garcia (5-0, 1.89 ERA)

Poor Cliff Lee. The Phillies ‘co-ace’ along with the other three, pitched well again last night, yet still suffered the loss. An interesting stat, last night was the first night cliff Lee had pitched with a single run on the board for the Phillies in 26 days. That’s not very good run support.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Phils tonight, facing unbeaten and so-far untouchable, Jaime Garcia in his home park. Garcia’s WHIP of 1.03 has even shrunk over his last three starts (0.86), telling you the hot start shows no signs of slowing. Chris Carpenter has been subpar at best, Adam Wainwright is out for the season, but Garcia seems poised to slide into the role of Cardinals’ Cy Young Candidate so far in 2011.

Roy Oswalt is no slouch himself. The veteran righty is 3-1 on the season with a respectable 3.33 ERA. His WHIP is an nearly identical to Garcia, 1.04 – telling me Oswalt’s command is in good form, he has just not been as adept at spreading out the damage over the course of six or seven innings.

In short, it is a good pitching matchup between two of the National League’s best teams. It seems like the perfect recipe for a pitching duel. However, in the last 33 matchups between these two teams, the OVER is 23-9-1. I’m not one to snub my nose at odds and trends that solid.

The pitching names have driven the line down to a tiny total of just 7. History tells us this is a 5-3, 6-3 game waiting to happen. Take the slim run line and bet the OVER.

PICK: Run Total OVER 7 Runs (-110)