The Braves rallied for a few late runs last night to earn us a narrow push. Obviously, I’d rather have a winner but avoiding a loss is a nice consolation for a game that was clearly going against us for seven innings. We will try to get that third winner without a loss tonight by sifting through a fully loaded Friday night schedule.
There are some huge series this weekend, but none is bigger than the matchup of the league’s two top teams going head to head in a battle for AL West supremecy. The Angels took the series opener last night to stake a two game edge in the division. Yes, both teams are making the playoffs, but there is a big difference between being the overall #1 seed and having a single game of life or death proportion. Both teams are putting their best foot forward tonight with Jon Lester squaring off against Jared Weaver. I’m not picking that game, but I’ll definitely tune in.
Let’s start the Holliday weekend off with a win.
Today’s Free Pick:
Cincinnati Reds +125 at Pittsburgh Pirates -133 (Total: 7.5)
Mike Leake (10-11, 3.51 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (11-7, 3.56 ERA)
The Pirates enter tonight having won five of seven games and battling their way back into the wildcard race. Meanwhile, the Reds seem to have stabilized their free fall and have won four of five games, though it is likely too little too late for Cincinnati. The Reds have played well against everyone in their division this year except the Cardinals, and if Pittsburgh wants to remain in the race, they will need to reverse that trend this weekend.
They’ll hand the ball to one of their hottest pitchers, Edinson Volquez. He hasn’t lost in more than a month and is 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in his last six starts. He is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA in his last three starts, but his 1.56 WHIP is a little troubling. That indicates he has been pitching himself out of trouble frequently, which is not a great recipe for long term success.
The Reds have owned the Pirates this season. They’ve won seven of the last nine meetings, including five of six in Pittsburgh. Mike Leake has gone eleven straight starts without a loss against the Buccos, but hasn’t been dominant, with an ERA just a touch under four.
The kicker for me tonight is the mighty struggles Volquez has had against his former team. He is 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA. I expect the Reds to hit him once again tonight, which makes them a nice value at +125.