We came up a run short last night as the Giants won in 12 innings but failed to get the extra run of cushion to cover the runline. The win was HUGE for the Giants, whose playoff hopes are suddenly as tepid as their bats, but it was a little disconcerting to see Madison Bumgarner be so average in such an important spot. If they are going to limp across the finish line, they are going to need their venerable workhorse to help carry them.
Elsewhere, the Cardinals and Mets both won to keep the playoff jockeying at the status quo. All three are in action today and are all facing starters with ERA’s over 4.50, so it will be imperative for each to hold serve.
Meanwhile, we will try to shake off last night’s loss and get back to our winning ways with a Saturday winner in an interesting duel between a pair of young hurlers.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Cincinnati Reds +145 at Pittsburgh Pirates -155 (Total: 8.5)
Robert Stevenson (2-1, 3.12 ERA) vs. Drew Hutchinson (1-0, 4.97 ERA)
The stat lines mean very little for either of these hurlers given the incredible small sample size, but it is worth noting, neither is making a nerve-wracking FIRST start and both have excellent stuff and figure to be pitching at this level for a long time to come, however more so for Stevenson than Hutchinson, who is making the start more from necessity than “let’s see this kid in action.”
Stevenson is the prize prospect of the Reds pitching farm system. He made a few starts in April while the entire starting staff was on the DL (seriously), and acquitted himself well. Likewise, he was steady in his first start back in the majors last week despite the Reds taking a 5-0 loss. He allowed just two solo homeruns in 5 2/3 innings.
Hutchinson was acquired recent from Toronto in the Francisco Liriano deal. He owned a 4.50 ERA in Indianapolis AAA and has an ERA just under five in his two starts. I think he will fare decently against an average Reds lineup, but I am a little puzzled why he and the Pirates are such staggeringly large favorites.
The Reds and Pirates have been about the same team since the All Star Break and neither has an overwhelming edge in any statistical category aside from bullpen (though the Pirates look a little different these days without Mark Melancon). Perhaps that is the Pirates huge edge in Vegas, but it isn’t enough for me to swallow a -155 laydown.
I like Stevenson tonight. The Pirates are just 2-8 in their last ten games and you can FEEL the resignation that the season has all but ended in the stadium. The Steel City has moved on to football season, and I am moving to the big value underdog Reds this evening as well.