I split my picks for the second straight day, hitting the OVER on the Reds v. Rockies but losing the outcome as Colorado poured it on en route to an 8-3 victory (and a 2-1 series win). It wrapped up a so-so 6-4 week, but at least we are on the positive side of things. The goal is to enjoy a happy holiday (for my fellow American readers) and start off the new week and the final month stretch run of the baseball season with some wins.
A quick note, most games today are matinees due to Labor Day, so be sure to get any picks in early if you have any plays going today. There are some fantastic series to watch as several key divisional and wildcard battles take place; Texas vs. Oakland, St. Louis vs. Cincinnati, and Baltimore vs. Cleveland. However, my pick will focus on one of the few evening games, so no rush getting to this 7:05 EST start.
Today’s Free Pick:
Washington Nationals -120 at Philadelphia Phillies +112 (Total: 7)
Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.96 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (6-13, 3.58 ERA)
Talk about two starting pitchers that deserve better than the losing records they are saddled with… Strasburg, in every category except wins/losses is having a BETTER season than last year. Yet his team is just 11-15 in games he has started. His WHIP is 1.05, his command has been excellent, and yet his team just rarely gets him runs. His recent stats are skewed a bit in that his last start was cut short after a lengthy rain delay in the second inning, but aside from that, he has pitched well enough for the Nats to win. It is also worth noting that in August he threw his first career complete game shutout against these same Phillies.
Meanwhile, about two months ago you could have projected Cole Hamels stats out to a twenty-loss season. It was ugly. However, Cole Hamels isn’t a twenty loss pitcher; in fact, over the last five years he has been one of the best left-handed starters in all of baseball. You knew his struggles (assuming he was healthy) wouldn’t last forever, and they haven’t. In his last eleven starts he has a 4-2 record and a sparkling 2.25 ERA. He hasn’t given up more than two runs in ANY outing since June 26th.
I like both pitchers to control the tempo of this game and to keep it a low scoring affair. Many sportsbooks have this line at 6.5, though one or two still had it at 7 at the time I’m posting. Either way, I’m comfortable with the UNDER, but of course, am happy to get an extra half-run comfort if possible.
Philly is beat up and still missing Ryan Howard among others. They have scored more than three runs just once in their last seven games. Facing Strasburg should make that even more difficult. Meanwhile, the Nats his just .223 against left-handed pitching and tonight they get one of the best southpaws in the business on the road.
Free Pick: Run TOTAL UNDER 7