Rangers at Angles – Free Pick July 22nd

Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels

Matt Harrison (12-4, 2.87 ERA) vs. Dan Haren (6-8, 4.86 ERA)

In my opinion, the two most dangerous teams in the postseason square off tonight in the rubber game of their three game set when the Rangers and Angels tussle on ESPN’s Sunday Night Game of the Week.  The teams have split the first two games of this series, and are even at 4-4 in their eight matchups in 2012.  The Rangers have a five game lead in the AL West, but given the way the Angels have played since the addition of Rookie of the Year lock and MVP frontrunner, Mike Trout, you can bet they’d love to stretch that lead another game tonight and keep some distance between the two teams.

Oh, first, a quick aside – I don’t like to gloat about past picks, but there is something satisfying about writing about a pitcher (Carlos Zambrano) and saying you odn’t want him on the mound when the chips are down in pressure situations, and then that guy goes out and allows four runs in one inning WITHOUT allowing a HIT.  2 hit batters.  4 walks.  Goodtimes Z.  Goodtimes….

OK – back to the present.  The biggest difference in the win totals between the Rangers and Angels is fairly evident in tonight’s pitching matchup.  The Rangers have gotten an amazing season out of Harrison, who despite being exceptionally talented, is performing beyond even the Rangers happiest expectations.  Meanwhile, Dan Haren, who may thought could be that third shut-down starter after aces Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson.  He hasn’t been even close.  He enters the game with a losing record and an ERA hovering near five.

Recently things have gotten even worse for Haren.  The Angels are hoping that it is rock bottom.  In his last three outings he has lasted just 15 innings, with a WHIP of 1.96 and a dizzying ERA of 9.96.  Tonight he tries to find his footing against the most dynamic and prolific offense in baseball in a key game on national television against a fierce division rival…

I like Texas tonight for a variety of factors, not the least of which being Haren’s struggles on the mound.  I also love the fact Matt Harrison has won eight of his last nine decisions and is coming off his first shutout of the season.  I love the fact that Mike Napoli seems to delight in punishing his former club every time he faces them; he is 13 of 26 against LA so far this season.  And lastly, and I think most importantly, even though this head-to-head matchup is even at 4-4, Texas has dominated the Angles statistically.  They are hitting over .100 points better (.322 to .221).  Their team ERA is a full two runs lower (5.79 to 3.65), and they have the obvious pitching advantage tonight.

I like Texas to take the decisive game of this series and grab the win.  I like the nice flat line of -105, and am even leaning towards doubling up tonight and grabbing some extreme value on the -1.5 runline at as high as +190.

Free Pick:  Texas Rangers to WIN -105