The division races might be all but settled, but there are still some interesting “message” series this week, most notably the Atlanta v Philadelphia series. These two are both heading to the postseason, but it will be interesting to see how the Braves handle the vaunted Philly pitching staff head-to-head over the next three days.
The Tampa Bay Rays also get a chance to entice their fan base with an interesting case of “what-if” when they take on the Texas Rangers. The Rangers are 3.5 games clear of Anaheim while the Rays are a distant afterthought in the two-team party of aristocrats that is the AL East. However, the Rays are only a few games worse record-wise than Texas, leaving fans to wonder if only…
After a brief holiday respite, let’s get back on track with a few winning picks.
TODAY’S MLB PICKS:
Cincinnati Reds -120 @ Chicago Cubs +110 (Total: 6.5)
J. Cueto (9-5, 2.29) vs. R. Dempster (10-11, 4.75)
The Reds and Cubbies played long into the night last night, after a one-hitter by Mike Leake with two outs in the ninth turned into a 2-2 tie and forced extra innings; the Reds eventually winning in 13 innings. Tonight, the Reds send their recently-scuffling ace against a longtime former Red, Ryan Dempster.
Here’s an interesting statistic; the Reds are 13-3 in their last 16 games as the favorite. Granted they aren’t favored incredibly often these days, but it is a good indication that when they have the favorable pitching matchup, they tend to take advantage of it. They are also 6-2 in Cueto’s last eight starts.
For the Cubbies, it has been more of the same less-than-stellar baseball that has plagued them throughout a very disappointing season. They have lost 7 of 10 at home, and are just 3-11 in their last 14 games as an underdog. Dempster has been especially dreadful of late, losing his last three starts and posting an ERA over six in the process.
The Reds are 7-5 against Chicago this season, and 13-6 dating back to the middle of last year. I like Cueto to correct his recent slide and earn his long overdue 10th win of the season tonight in Chicago. But even more than that, how do you not jump ALL OVER the OVER tonight? These two starters have a combined ERA approaching twelve in their last three starts. And the line is 6.5 tonight?? I like Cueto tonight, but my official play is the OVER.
San Francisco Giants -145 @ San Diego Padres +135 (TOTAL: 6)
M. Cain (11-9, 2.85) vs. A. Harang (12-5, 3.86)
The Giants showed some signs of life this weekend, and will be attempting to complete a sweep over the Padres. With their recent surge, and Arizona’s loss to Colorado yesterday, have pulled to six games back of Arizona in the West. If these were just about any other two teams in the mix, most pundits would be calling the fight. However, and I agree with the sentiment, it just feels like the Giants might have enough pitching in reserve to catch the younger and lesser-experienced Diamondbacks.
The Giants have something beside momentum on their side today; they have Matt Cain on the hill. Don’t let the almost-.500 record fool you, Cain has been every bit as good as his lofty reputation warrants. With a WHIP near one (1.07), and an ERA under three, it is hard to find much fault with Cain’s efforts. The Giants will look to deal the Padres a tenth straight loss as an underdog tonight in PetCo Park.
For San Diego, native son Aaron Harang has been a pleasant surprise. His 12-5 record and the team’s 16-9 record in games he started place him near the league’s elite. His last three starts, in which has went just 1-2, he actually has pitched even better. His ERA was just 2.11 and his WHIP was under one at 0.91. It will be interesting to see if he can stifle the often punchless Giant lineup and hang in a pitcher’s duel with Cain.
San Fran has won 8 of 10 against the Pads, and San Diego has won just one of their last twelve games overall. Harang gives them a shot, but it is hard to see them ending their losing ways against a desperate Giant team with their co-ace on the hill.