It was a fun day in the National League with a few absolute thrillers to welcome back the second half of fhe season. The Cubs blew an 8-0 lead in Baltimore, allowing the Orioles to come all the way back to tie the game before they scored in the top of the ninth to preserve a 9-8 win. Likewise, we took a tough L last night with the underdog Marlins leading throughout, only to lose in the ninth with a three-run Yasiel Puig blast turning a 4-3 winner into a 6-4 defeat. Add in the Braves dramatic 4-3 home win over the Diamondbacks, and it was a pretty exciting night of baseball.
There were some dazzling individual performances as well; Bryce Harper blasting a pair of home runs in Cincinnati, including a 440-foot shot to dead center in 5-0 victory, and Jacob deGrom looking dominant in an eleven strikeout performance in a romping 14-2 victory over Colorado. Perhaps the losses by Colorado and Arizona are the start of the wildcard race finally getting a little more interesting in the National League…
Let’s see if we can notch a winner this evening to get the second half of the year heading in the right direction.
Today’s MLB Pick:
Washington Nationals -171 at Cincinnati Reds +167 (Total: 9)
Max Scherzer (10-5, 2.10 ERA) vs. Luis Castillo (1-1, 3.13 ERA)
This line came out before Bryce Harper’s second homerun even landed. And it’s not a terribly difficult pick, right? Max Scherzer minus ANYTHING seems reasonable right now, anything under -200 seems darn right cheap. So let’s start from THAT place; most dominant pitcher in league when on, facing one of the worst teams in the N.L.
But the play might not be just Scherzer. Luis Castillo has been good since getting called up to the Reds rotation. He should have gotten the win three weeks ago against the same Nationals had the Reds bullpen not blown the lead. He’s been consistently solid since, and I expect him to be pretty solid night against a dangerous Nationals lineup.
Me lean UNDER isn’t a knock on either offense; both are excellent. The Reds can hit for days despite a lousy record and being shutout last night. But I think the line gives too little respect to Castillo. Scherzer rarely allows more than a single run. He has only done so twice in his last nine outings, though his pre-Break start was a lousy one (by Max’s elevated standards), allowing four runs against the Braves. Other than that, eight starts, six earned runs. He leads the league in ERA at 2.10, WHIP at an insane 0.78 and has struck out a league-high 173 batters. It is lights-out when Scherzer is on the mound, no matter the team or ballpark. He misses bats, which makes “Great American SMALL Park” less a factor.
As long as Castillo doesn’t explode, the OVER should be set way, way too high.
Today’s MLB Pick: RUN TOTAL UNDER 9