We came up short on our big underdog play as the Colorado Rockies were blanked by the St. Louis Cardinals. Adam Wainwright hadn’t allowed less than three runs in any of his eight starts this season, but channeled some 2013 mastery last night with 6 2/3 scoreless frames. The bullpen came in and held the rope and Waino got the well-deserved win. The Rockies at +155 were too juicy to pass up, but Wainwright brought literally his first good appearance of the year to the ballpark.
We will try to get back on top today with an interesting slate of games to choose from. You have the Cubs and their sneaky Cy Young candidate on getaway day this afternoon in Milwaukee. No, it isn’t Jon Lester or Jake Arrieta. It’s Jason Hamel, who enters today perfect at 5-0 and with the third-lowest ERA in the NL at 1.77. However, his WHIP places him all the way down to 24th and his strikeout to walk ratio is barely 2:1, so perhaps he is due for a few spots at some point.
There is also Strasburg vs. Harvey as the Nats and Mets wrap up in CitiField, The Indians and Reds wrapping up a rare home-and-home four game set in which the Reds have already surrendered 37 runs, and the Rockies and Cardinals wrapping up an odd series where only six runs TOTAL have been tallied.
Let’s dive in to today’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Washington Nationals -112 at New York Mets +102 (Total: 7.5)
Stephen Strasburg (6-0, 2.95 ERA) vs. Matt Harvey (3-5, 4.93 ERA)
Last night we faded a big-name struggling star pitcher and got burnt, but I am not afraid to go back to the same logic tonight. The biggest difference? Tonight’s struggling star is facing a star who ISN’T in Stephen Strasburg. Stras signed the big contract a few weeks ago and promptly went out in his next outing and had a few minor issues against the Marlins. It was his worst outing of the year; allowing three runs and six hits and four walks over six innings. Not his best, but if that is as BAD as it gets? Pretty good season.
Meanwhile, Harvey has struggled throughout the season. He hasn’t been “awful” but he just isn’t quite “right” either. His last start was his worst, allowing five runs and eleven hits to the Colorado Rockies in five-plus innings. He hasn’t allowed less than two runs in any start, but he also hasn’t pitched into the seventh inning yet this year either. Every start he has allowed two runs (three times), three runs (three times) or five runs (two times). In four of those five starts the manager had to go get him during the sixth inning and in three others he simply didn’t come back out for the seventh.
Now, it doesn’t hurt that the Mets bullpen ERA is the best in the NL at 2.72, so Harvey’s shortened outings might be a bit overstated. But the larger point is that in 2016, he isn’t the dominant guy who started the All Star Game a few years ago. He has been a pretty league-average pitcher. There is some hope that seeing the Nats rekindle some past dominance. He has one disaster against them last year in a Sunday Night ESPN game, allowing seven runs, but in his other nine starts he surrendered just six earned runs – straight dominance.
Is it possible we get burnt by another struggling ace finding his mojo in start nine after eight straight meh outings? Sure. But I like to play numbers and value, and Strasburg and the Nats and near even money tonight is a pretty good value.