We notched another nice easy win to kick off a new week yesterday, with the Nats and Phills playing a tidy, well-pitched 3-2 ballgame. The final scored tucked easily UNDER the total to push my two week run to 13-5 ATS. We will try to keep it going this week as the pennant races start heading up and pushing towards a dramatic final four weeks.
Today’s free pick will focus on two teams who look to be certainties for the American League playoffs hooking up today for a very intriguing pitching matchup. SO let’s get to the action…
Detroit Tigers -110 at Boston Red Sox +100 (Total: 8.5)
Max Scherzer (19-1, 2.90 ERA) vs. John Lester (12-7, 3.84 ERA)
ESPN has been running this interesting graphic all of last night and this morning, about how IF Scherzer and Lester switched teams, given the relative run support each has received in their 2013 starts, what their “projected records” would be. As one could imagine (the whole POINT of the graphic) is that it is less than flattering to Scherzer and somewhat diminishes his gaudy 19-1 mark. According to the projection, Lester, is backed by Miggy and Tigers would be a sparkling 15-4, while Scherzer would currently have TEN losses.
I call garbage on this one. Yes, I am a stat-dork, it comes with the turf of handicapping games on a daily basis. But there is a limit to HOW much they can tell you – in this case, the stat is pretty limited. Only TWO of Scherzer’s 19 wins have come in games in which he did not pitch a quality start. Yes, wins can be squandered by ineffective bullpens, and despite Detroit’s fairly frequent woes, they have not coincided with Scherzer starts, but to try to pin him with TEN losses is just dumb.
Tonight is a great opportunity to prove the old axiom, ‘good pitching beats good hitting’ correct. Both starters are top-notch, and Lester has a nice 1.66 ERA over 21.2 innings in his last three starts, but both will be facing elite offenses. The Tigers and Red Sox rank #1 & #2 in just about every major offensive category including batting average, runs scored and OPS. However, Cabrera being questionable for tonight’s game does make things a little easier on Lester and Sox pen.
I like both pitchers to shine tonight, despite the challenge of facing elite lineups. This game will have a very October feel to it; from the weather, to the aces on the mound, to the “shrinking” of offenses we typically see come postseason time. It should be a great watch. I’d lean Sox if picking a winner, but given that the Tigers are 22-5 in games Scherzer has pitched, I’m staying off a winner officially. Instead, I’ll bank on BOTH pitchers getting it done and keeping the score UNDER the 8.5 mark.
Free Pick: Run TOTAL UNDER 8.5