Welcome back! After a few week hiatus, we are back with a Playoff-edition of picks and winners. Three of the four series are knotted at one apiece, and after the craziness of this Septmeber, it’d be hard to expect anything less from October.
Tonight, both ALDS series feature fantastic pitching matchups for the pivotal Game Three. So without further adieu, let’s get to today’s free picks.
TODAY’S MLB PICKS:
Texas Rangers +125 @ Tampa Bay Rays -135
Colby Lewis vs. David Price
The Rays path to this point has been as improbable as any in major league history. Down nine games on September 4th and down to their final strike in the season’s final game before a miracle pinch-hit homerun forced extra innings, it’s fair to say the Rays are no strangers to the dramatic. Tonight’s drama is further enhanced by the uncertainty that surrounds David Price after his terrible outing, allowing seven runs in just three innings, in the season’s final game.
David Price had a rough end to the regular season aside from Tuesday’s near disaster. His ERA of 5.79 with a WHIP nearing one and a half is certainly a cause for concern. The Rangers’ hurler, Colby Lewis, didn’t end the year much stronger. His ERA of 5.50 in his final three starts is not exactly confidence inspiring.
So there is a decent chance this game will come down to the bats, which would seemingly favor the slugger-loaded Rangers. However, don’t be lulled into looking at season stats only when appraising this Rays ballclub. Even Longoria’s average is pedestrian at just under .250. But since June 20th, after recovering fully from the injury that sidelines him for four weeks, he leads all of MLB in RBI’s. Likewise, BJ Upton, who’s high strikeout totals and low average have always been a source of consternation for Joe Maddon and Rays’ faithful, has been hitting over .300 since August, and appears to be picking up right where he left off in the 2008 World Series on the October stage.
Many of the numbers favor the Rangers, but even Vegas is sold on the magic brewing down in St. Pete, installing Tampa Bay as the favorite, despite Price’s recent struggles. The Rays are 25-7 in their last 32 games as the favorite, making them a very safe bet on average, and are 20-6 in their last 20-6 home games, regardless of the line or pitching matchup.
I have to agree with Vegas. There is a resilliance and looseness the Rays are playing with lately that defy many of the numbers and statistics. I like them at home, and I like Price to have a nice bounce-back performance back to pitching on full rest.
New York Yankees +120 @ Detroit Tigers -130
C.C. Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander
If the Tigers go on to win tonight, yet lose the series in five, they will be one of the rare teams that I allow to blame luck or fate for their demise. It has been at least a decade since any one team’s phenomenal success hinged more solely on the fate of one pitcher’s performance that the Tigers’ does on Justin Verlander. That would make Game One’s “rain out/rain delay” a big problem, as now Verlander can go only once in this series. Tonight.
That makes tonight a must-win game. And I think they will do just that. Nothing has been more bankable in sports this season than Verlander. Consider this; the Tigers are 22-5 in Verlander’s last 27 starts against a team with a winning record. They are 20-4 overall. He won 12 of his last 13 starts. Not “decisions”; starts! As in, not just the Tigers but HE win every time out.
The Yankees have some great numbers with CC on the hill as well, but this game just means way more tonight to the Tigers. Expect a sharp performance from Verlander and a Tiger win at home.