We split our MLB picks yesterday with the Rangers and Mariners quickly blowing the run total out of the water in a wild 8-6 game, but the White Sox, despite seven innings of one-hit ball pitched by Chris Sale weren’t able to hold on. The bullpen was their undoing as the Red Sox prevailed 3-1 behind a fantastic outing from Jon Lester.
Meanwhile, across MLB a significant regression to the norm has taken place the last week. He Brewers and Marlins, among the hottest starters in the league, have both plummeted back to Earth. The Brewers enter tonight on a four-game losing streak, while Miami’s 5-1 start has quickly regressed back to 6-10 and last place in the difficult National League East. All of a sudden, it’s a bunch of familiar faces at the tops of divisions; the Yankees, Tigers, A’s, Braves and Dodgers are all hanging around the same place they were last year just three weeks into the season.
Let’s see if we can start off the weekend right with some winning plays.
Today’s Free Picks:
Cincinnati Reds +100 at Chicago Cubs -110 (Total: 7.5)
Alfredo Simon (1-1, 1.20 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 1.29 ERA)
This game has the makings of a pitcher’s duel on the surface; a chilly afternoon in Wrigley with two pitchers sporting ERA’s in the low one’s taking the mound. But I have a feeling it won’t be. The Reds have hit Samardzija well historically; he is just 1-3 with a 4.68 ERA in his career as a starter against the Reds. Plus, Cincinnati’s bats seem to have woken up over the last week. They tallied 18 runs over the weekend and have scored 30 in their last four games.
The opposite is true for the Cubs, who looked inept at the plate against the Yankees this weekend and will enter today with an 18-inning scoreless streak. That bodes well for Simon who is making the most of his opportunity to join the starting rotation while the Reds await the return of Mat Latos.
Joey Votto has been on fire since moving to the second spot in the lineup. He is hitting .468 with three homeruns in his last five games. I expect him to continue his hot hitting this weekend in Wrigley Field. Samardzija is the better starter on paper, but looking at the matchup specifics, the Reds are a really good value at even money.
Free Pick: Cincinnati Reds to WIN +100
Milwaukee Brewers +105 at Pittsburgh Pirates -115 (Total: 7.5)
Kyle Lohse vs. Charlie Morton
This is a classic “table turned” series. The Pirates looked terrible at the plate, getting swept at Miller Park last weekend and batting .180 in the process. However, it’s the Brewers who come back to Pittsburgh with the lousy momentum and struggles at the plate. This will be Pittsburgh’s second look at Kyle Lohse in less than a week, and I expect them to fare better this time around.
The Pirates will counter with Charlie Morton. Morton has been good this season, and deserved better than the loss in his last start and two of his four runs scored on a bat throwing error by Alvarez. He is 2-0 with a 1.82 ERA in his last six home starts. Expect him to pitch well at PNC Park tonight and to keep Ryan Braun and the dangerous Brew Crew in check tonight.
Free Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates to WIN -115