Ervin Santana showed up bigtime for the second straight outing against the Astros and helped us cash one of my biggest underdog winners of the year at +182. The game was tense and the Twins had to score twice in the top of the ninth and sweat out a run allowed in the bottom of the ninth to notch the 3-2 victory.
Meanwhile, the Nationals slugged their way to a fourth straight win and the bats have definitely come alive in the Nation’s Capital. They are still five games back as the Mets haven’t shown much evidence of cracking, but it does make this week’s upcoming series even more interesting (and ironic, as the Mets are going through their public debate over the innings of young ace Matt Harvey, just as the Nats did with Strasburg in 2012 at this time of the year – can you believe both are represented by Scott Boras??!? <Sarcastic laugh>)
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Today’s Free Pick:
Tampa Bay Rays -117 at New York Yankees +111 (Total: 7)
Chris Archer vs. Ivan Nova
The Rays look to stay alive in the wild card race by winning the weekend series in the Bronx today. They certainly have a nice advantage with their young ace, Chris Archer, getting the ball. Archer has been awesome in his breakout season and shows no signs of the late season fatigue young pitchers often experience. He has a 1.71 ERA in his last three starts over 21 innings and a WHIP of just 0.90. Maybe more telling is his 29 strikeouts against just five walks. This is a pitcher on top of his game with dominant stuff.
The Yankees certainly have some incentive to win the series as well. They are all but guaranteed a wildcard berth, but at just 1 ½ games behind the Blue Jays, the Yankees can’t afford to give away any games, especially at home.
The Rays have won seven of the eight games Archer has started against the Yankees. This line is improbably low considering the massive edge Archer provides.
I also just noticed Kyle has posted the SAME PICK… so I’ll cut my analysis short right here and move on to my second pick of the day… ha. But YES, we agree on this one. The Rays are a good play today. You can even get a little better odds, down to -117 at fivedimes.
Chicago White Sox +183 at Kansas City Royals -191 (Total: 8)
Erik Johnson vs. Johnny Cueto
I’ve ridden Cueto to victories so many times the last two years that I almost feel bad turning on him today. For the record, I think Cueto will still be good in Kansas City and it was a much-needed risk to acquire him. I also think he is going through a little fatigue patch and perhaps having a little trouble adjusting to new surroundings after spending his entire career in Cincinnati.
But the numbers are hard to deny right now. He has lost his last three starts, posting an 8.47 ERA in the process. His swing-to-miss ratio is down almost 7% from Cincinnati and he has struck out just 13 batters in his last three starts.
Look, the potential of a Cueto bounce back and a complete game three-hitter always looms large. Hence the HUGE spread today. If that happens, I’ll tip my cap to Johnny Beisbol and swallow my loss with dignity. BUT, until it does, it is reasonable to assume Cueto is vulnerable and that this line is significantly inflated. That provides tremendous value in the Sox today at a juicy +177.
Erik Johnson appears back on the “big time prospect” track after an MVP AAA season in Charlotte where he posted a 2.37 ERA with a 136 strikeouts. His first MLB stint was not successful, but I expect the young hurler to be decent today, maybe even very good.
The edge still goes to KC, obviously, but at this price, it’s worth a flyer on Cueto’s trouble being real and not just an isolated rough spot.