Well, I guess even when you are as hot as we have been, you are going to lose a game every once in a while. Heading into play last night, we had won 86% of our bets on the week and were riding high. I looked to stay hot by backing the Pittsburgh Pirates as small home favorites against the Oakland Athletics. The A’s had lost six straight games and hadn’t shown any ability to hit the ball in the last two weeks. They were just 4-11 on the road this year. And they were matched up with Joe Musgrove, who had an ERA of 1.54 in six appearances this season.
To me, this seemed like a prime spot to take advantage of the slumping A’s at a very reasonable price. But after watching the game, I am not sure I could have been more wrong. The A’s exploded for fourteen runs and blew the game out 14-1. This Oakland team that was averaging less than three runs a game over their last ten, finally showed up, and in a big way.
What can you do, losing a ticket by one run and losing by a dozen runs is the same thing, they both lose. So, I won’t beat myself up about it for too long as I get right back to the grind today, looking to pick up on where we had been all week before yesterday’s disaster. For today’s pick, we will head to Chicago where the Cubs are hosting the Cardinals.
The St. Louis Cardinals are in Chicago Saturday for game two of a three-game series with their hated rivals, the Cubs. The Cardinals have the best winning percentage in the National League but have lost two straight games. The Cubs took game one of this series last night 4-0, behind a Maddux, from Kyle Hendricks.
For those of you younger readers, throwing a Maddux is a reference to former Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs superstar pitcher Greg Maddux, who used to pride himself on throwing complete games in the most efficient manner possible. Hendricks would have made Maddux proud last night as he threw a complete game on just eighty-one pitches. Anthony Rizzo added a three-run bomb, and the series stands at Chicago one, St. Louis zero.
Starting for the Cardinals today is Michael Wacha (2-0 4.78 ERA), and for the Cubs, it is Yu Darvish (2-3 5.02 ERA). The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. The Cubs are -112 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM PST from Wrigley Field in Chicago.
If you read my picks daily, you know that I have been riding the Cardinals a bunch lately. They have the best record in the NL, yet they are consistently still being undervalued. We see that again today as they are picking up dog money against the Cubs. Until the books start rating this team as one of the best in the NL, which they are, I am going to continue looking for ways to back them profitably.
Today the Cardinals will turn to starting pitcher Michael Wacha. Wacha has had a nice start to his season, but it hasn’t been without any hiccups. Wacha found himself on the IL in mid-April, but for the most part, he has been very good. He had one blow up game against the Dodgers where he got hammered, but in his other four starts, he has looked great. His ERA of 4.78 is inflated by that one bad outing where he allowed seven of the fourteen earned runs he has given up all season long.
The Cubs are finally starting to turn things around after a very slow start. Chicago has won five straight games, their longest winning streak of the season. Remember, this team lost eight out of their first ten games, so while their 17-12 record doesn’t look all that eye-popping, they are playing much better than that record might show right now. The Cubs will send Yu Darvish to the mound today, looking to extend their winning streak.
I have been really hard on Yu Darvish in the last two seasons. He has just been awful since moving to the Cubs, yet he continues to be valued as an All-Star level pitcher by the books, when his results do not reflect that. When you look at Darvish’s stats in his time in Chicago, they are underwhelming, to say the least. Darvish is 3-6 with a 4.98 ERA. The strikeouts are still there for Darvish, but he just can’t get ahead of his command issues.
Darvish has been plagued by poor command all season long. He has fifteen walks in just six starts this season. His WHIP, a good indicator of how well he is pitching, sits at 1.57, which is the worst number he has ever posted in his career. He has walked three batters or more in all but one start this season.
The St. Louis Cardinals pride themselves with getting on base. Their .342 team on-base percentage is tied for third in the majors. They are also third in batting average, and sixth in runs scored. I have a feeling they are going to jump all over Yu Darvish today. While Darvish did look much better in his last start, pitching six innings and allowing just one run on two hits. He also walked four batters, and if you keep playing with fire by giving out free passes, teams are going to make you pay for it.
I hate to bet against this Cubs team right now as they are certainly heating up. But I think they hit a road bump tonight against the Cardinals. Give me the St. Louis Cardinals as small road underdogs today in game two!