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Reds vs Rockies Pick MLB – August 31st + Bonus Pick

We cashed an easy winner last night with the Braves and Marlins remaining comfortably UNDER the 6.5 run total with a nice 2-1 pitcher’s duel.  Again, Jose Fernandez was fantastic, but it wasn’t enough to notch his 11th win of the season as Julio Tehran stymied the oft-punchless Marlin bats.  The winning wager pushed my week to 4-2 with a nice +156 underdog winner in the mix and runs the two-week mark to 11-3.  Let’s try to keep the nice run rolling tonight with a play on the most intruiging game in the American League – the wildcard-influencing matchup between the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s.

Today’s Free Pick:

Tampa Bay Rays +120 at Oakland A’s -110 (Total: 7)

Alex Cobb (8-2, 2.87 ERA) vs. Sonny Gray (1-2, 3.18 ERA)

The A’s won last night 4-3 to pull a half-game ahead of Tampa Bay in the Wildcard race. Both are four games clear of Baltimore, so they have a little wiggle room, but this series is still very important.  For starters, neither really wants their 162-game season to come down to a one-game wildcard rematch.  Oakland is just 2 games behind Texas, while Tampa Bay is lurking 3 ½ games back of Boston.

A second reason this game is SO important, if these two DO end as the wildcard teams, whoever has a better record will force the other to fly ALL the way across the country for that one-game winner-take-all contest.  Oakland has to feel good about beating Rays ace David Price last night,  but things won’t get any easier with Alex Cobb tonight.

Cobb has been excellent since returning from the DL after missing two months with a nasty concussion.  In three starts he is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA.  He has only gone 16.2 innings, but I expect the Rays to be willing to stretch him out a little bit tonight in his fourth start, assuming he is pitching as well as his last outings.

Meanwhile, Oakland counters with rookie Sonny Gray.  He has been pretty good in his young career, but did struggle last time out against Baltimore, giving up six runs on eight hits in just 3 1/3 innings.  He has good stuff, but it is a little curious that the A’s are the Vegas favorite with him opposing Cobb tonight.

It’s a pretty slim difference, but I like the slight underdog value of Tampa tonight.  They have the starting pitching advantage, and I like Cobb to handle Oakland’s lineup tonight. In four games against Tampa this season the A’s have only mustered 2.0 runs per game.  Facing Cobb won’t make it easy to improve on that stat.  Give me the Rays at +120 tonight.

Free Pick:  Tampa Bay Rays to WIN +120

Bonus Pick:  RIGHT as I went to post this pick, I noticed Kyle had a play on the TOTAL of this same game.  I didn’t want to have overlapping games on back-to-back days; let’s spread the wealth a bit, right?  SO I want to add a bonus pick to this column…

Cincinnati Reds at Colorado Rockies (Total: 10)

Greg Reynolds (0-2, 5.75 ERA) vs. Juan Nicasio (8-6, 4.57 ERA)

Last night was a wild 9-6 affair highlighted by Todd Helton jumping in the way-back machine and taking the Reds deep for a pair of three-run homeruns.  Tonight, the Reds send a AAA pitcher to the mound, and not necessarily one they’d normally call up.  They are caught in a tough spot with Tony Cingrani’s injury and the continued shaky status of Johnny Cueto.  In a bind, they grabbed the most readily available arm they could find.

In two spot starts this season, things have not gone well for Reynolds.  Pitching in Coors Field likely won’t make things any easier…

Meanwhile, Nicasio has to contend with a powerful Reds lineup that has scored 53 runs in their last nine games against the Rockies.

Look for some fireworks tonight – enough to get over the large 10 run game total.

Free Pick:  Run TOTAL OVER 10 for Reds/Rockies